Showing posts with label Barrell Craft Spirits. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Barrell Craft Spirits. Show all posts

Friday, September 2, 2022

Barrell Vantage Straight Bourbon Review & Tasting Notes

There’s been a recent craze for finishing whiskeys in Mizunara casks. Mizunara is a native Japanese wood that does a fantastic job of retaining moisture. However, it is a challenging wood to work with:


“The oak does not grow straight, it has a high moisture content, and it’s much more porous than other varieties, he says. These issues make the casks prone to leaking. Its name, after all, translates to ‘water oak.’” - Hirotsugu Hayasaka, former head cooper at Nikka


Mizunara cask development was due to European and American oak shortages during World War II. The Japanese looked to their forests to create the required containers. The Japanese coopers returned to European and American oak once the supply chain issues were remedied. However, the memory of how good the whisky aged in Mizunara wood remained.


In more modern times, the Mizunara trees are a protected species. First, the tree must be about 200 years old to be suitable for carving staves. Secondly, the yield of usable wood is meager compared to its European and American counterparts. Thirdly, you can’t harvest a live Mizunara tree; it must be naturally felled.1


Barrell Craft Spirits has just released Vantage, a blend of straight Bourbons finished in Mizunara, French, and toasted American oak casks. All three finishing cooperages were virgin oak, so nothing but wood would impart its flavors to the whiskey. As with many of Barrell’s American whiskeys, it has sourced distillate from Indiana (MGP/Ross & Squibb), Tennessee (George Dickel), and Kentucky (Jim Beam).  Each component of Bourbon was finished independently and blended together in Louisville, Kentucky.


“Barrell Vantage is a bourbon dedicated to the arts of barrel selection and blending. We drew upon our years of blending expertise, creativity, and testing to create a bourbon with impeccable balance and depth of flavor that embraces different char and toast levels, along with its oak origins. Barrell Vantage is an exciting step forward in our never-ending journey to take Bourbon to new heights.”Joe Beatrice, founder of Barrell Craft Spirits


Vantage carries no age statement and is packaged at 114.44°. A 750ml bottle has a suggested price of $89.99 and is available in 48 states. That price puts it in line with most of Barrell’s standard releases.


Now that you know its background, it is time to #DrinkCurious and discover what this Bourbon is all about and if it is worthwhile. But, before I do, I will shout out to Barrell for providing me a sample of Vantage in exchange for a no-strings-attached, honest review.


Appearance: Poured neat in my Glencairn glass, Vantage presented as oiled brass. A microthin rim formed, leading tiny tears to fall back into the pool.


Nose: A bouquet of toasted coconut, pineapple, cumin, cinnamon, and clove tickled my nostrils. When I pulled the air into my mouth, a strong sense of caramel engaged my tongue.


Palate:  An incredibly oily texture provided a weighty mouthfeel. I tasted caramel, vanilla, and Cinnamon Toast Crunch on the front of my palate. The middle featured plum, coconut, ginger, and cocoa powder, while the back dispensed coffee, clove, and allspice flavors.


Finish: Vantage possesses one of those freight train finishes that plows through and runs for miles. Allspice was the highlight; however, the plum, coconut, Cinnamon Toast Crunch, and ginger weren’t derailed.


Bottle, Bar, or Bust:  I’ve never had a Mizunara-finished whiskey before today. I can’t swear that most of this experience is directly related to that wood, as there are two others to contend with, but let’s say that I’m curious about tasting others. The coconut flavors came through hard, and while that’s something that isn’t overly unusual with whiskeys, to have it as prominent as Vantage offers is.


Vantage is also surprisingly easy to sip despite its proof. There is undoubtedly a spicy component to this Bourbon, but no alcohol burn, which many folks will appreciate. However, it also sneaks up on you because there is no warning of it coming before it hits. I’ve been delighted with many of Barrell Craft Spirits' offerings as of late, and Vantage is no exception. I’d happily fork over the $90 to have this Bottle in my library. Cheers!


My Simple, Easy to Understand Rating System

  • Bottle = Buy It
  • Bar = Try It
  • Bust = Leave It


Whiskeyfellow encourages you to enjoy your whiskey as you see fit but begs you do so responsibly.



1Brad Japhe, Bloomberg Businessweek, April 27, 2022


Sunday, August 21, 2022

Barrell Craft Spirits Batch 033 Bourbon Review & Tasting Notes

Barrell Craft Spirits is one of the more consistently excellent blenders around. That’s not to suggest it is perfect at what it does, but if you were going to take a chance and risk purchasing a bottle without knowing anything about it, you’d likely be on the winning side of that bet.


While the art of blending isn’t simple, Barrell makes things less complicated. Everything it produces is barrel-proof. If you think something is too strong, you get to change things up by adding water. That’s on you; Barrell won’t do that on your behalf.


Barrell doesn’t get fancy with names. Its highest-end whiskeys are Gold Label, and the next level is Gray Label. Then, you have a few specialty blends, such as Seagrass, Dovetail, etc., but most labels say something like Batch 033 (which is the Bourbon I’m reviewing today).


Batch 033 is a Bourbon that carries a five-year age statement. That’s the youngest whiskey in the batch. The oldest is nine years, and there are six, seven, and eight-year Bourbons as well. Barrell sourced these Bourbons distilled from Indiana (MGP), Tennessee (George Dickel), and Kentucky (Jim Beam). Both high-rye and high-corn Bourbons were procured, then blended into two sets of barrels that rested an additional two months. Barrell then blended those to make what’s in the bottle.


It weighs in at 116.6° and carries an MSRP of $90.00. Typically, Barrell whiskeys are easy to find at good liquor stores around the country.


Will this be another winner for Barrell? The only way to know for sure is to #DrinkCurious. Before I do so, I must thank Barrell for providing a sample of Batch 033 in exchange for a no-strings-attached, honest review.


Appearance: Deep and dark, the burnt umber liquid left a medium-thick rim on the wall of my Glencairn glass. Sticky droplets remained after an initial release of thick legs.


Nose:  A rich blast of corn and caramel escaped my glass. Plum and cherry punched through, and getting beyond those aromas, I found almond, pecan, and oak. Plum and cherry rolled across my tongue as I pulled the air through my lips.


Palate:  A thick, creamy texture filled every nook and cranny of my mouth and warmed my throat. A wave of vanilla, plum and baked apple smashed the front of my palate. Flavors of grapefruit, lime, and nuts formed the middle, while chocolate, allspice, and oak rounded the back.


Finish:  The long, lingering finish was ripe with chocolate, oak, vanilla, allspice, lime, limestone, and oak. By the third sip, the warming sensation in my throat subsided.


Bottle, Bar, or Bust:  Despite the complicated listing of barrels used for Batch 033, the components were easily discerned. The nuttiness of Beam, the minerality of Dickel, and the classic fruitiness of MGP shone through. Batch 033 is a welcome addition to my whiskey library, and I believe you will walk away happy after buying a Bottle. Cheers!


My Simple, Easy to Understand Rating System

  • Bottle = Buy It
  • Bar = Try It
  • Bust = Leave It


Whiskeyfellow encourages you to enjoy your whiskey as you see fit but begs you do so responsibly.



Friday, August 12, 2022

Dovetail Gray Label Whiskey Review & Tasting Notes

While handing out the 2020 Whiskeyfellow Awards, a whiskey called Dovetail won Best American Whiskey.  It was a marriage of MGP and Dickel whiskeys perfectly blended by Barrell Craft Spirits. You can read my review of Dovetail here.


Since then, I’ve not yet had a chance to revisit Dovetail. I was understandably intrigued when Barrell Craft Spirits announced it was releasing Gray Label Dovetail. The Gray Label releases have been consistently lovely and a significant step up from the originals. They normally involve older whiskeys folded into the standard blends.


Dovetail combined whiskeys finished in Blackstrap rum casks, Port pipes, and Dunn Vinyards Cabernet casks. Gray Label Dovetail goes a step further. Aside from the MGP and Dickel components, there is an added Canadian element. Barrell harvested whiskeys as old as 20 years.


Barrell does not disclose its distilleries, yet it also does not make it difficult to nail down which distilleries are involved. My big weakness in whiskey experience is on the Canadian side. As such, I have no clue which distillery was used.


Gray Label Dovetail is bottled at 131.54°, which is a significant number by itself. There is no age statement, and this Gray Label whiskey is priced in line with the others at $249.99.


Before I go any further, I must thank Barrell Craft Spirits for providing me a sample in exchange for a no-strings-attached, honest review.  Let’s #DrinkCurious and taste how it performs.


Appearance:  Served neat in my Glencairn glass, Dovetail appeared as deep orange. A thick rim formed, which strangely yielded both slow droplets and fast legs.


Nose:  The waft of air that escaped the glass contained caramel, molasses, cranberry, cinnamon, mint, leather, and freshly-shredded tobacco. I found leather and strawberry preserves when I inhaled that vapor through my mouth.


Palate:  I encountered an oily texture while the front of my palate plucked leather, strawberry jam, and molasses. The middle was chocolate, ginger, and cinnamon, while the back held old oak, caramel, black pepper, and tobacco leaf.


Finish:  The finish was crazy, with things happening randomly and everywhere in my mouth and throat. It was fruity; it was sugary; it was spicy; it was mineral; it was earthy. It also lasted forever, with bold ginger beer holding the longest.


Bottle, Bar, or Bust: Gray Label Dovetail is in a class by itself, and I’ve never tasted anything quite like it. I savored each sip and yearned for the next when the finish morphed yet always crescendoed the same. Is it worth $249.99?  That’s a steep price, but you’re not going to find anything else like this whiskey. I say Bottle for those who can afford it; if not, get yourself to a good whiskey bar so you can try it for yourself. Cheers!


My Simple, Easy to Understand Rating System

  • Bottle = Buy It
  • Bar = Try It
  • Bust = Leave It


Whiskeyfellow encourages you to enjoy your whiskey as you see fit but begs you do so responsibly.



Friday, July 15, 2022

Stellum Spirits Black Label Specialty Blends Reviews & Tasting Notes

Stellum Spirits is a kinda-sorta new-to-market brand. In 2021, it introduced its line of whiskeys to the world. However, there was a certain familiarity to it, and that’s because Stellum is part of the Barrell Craft Spirits portfolio.


Barrell Craft Spirits is known for sourcing whiskeys, blending them, and bottling them at cask strength. There’s no such thing as low-proof whiskeys out of the company. It is located in Louisville, Kentucky, and typically finds whiskeys from Indiana, Tennessee, and Kentucky, although there have been some from Wyoming and Canada. Aside from usually producing excellent whiskeys, I appreciate the transparency it provides. That transparency allows me to do detective work to determine who the source distillers are.


Stellum Spirits is the more affordable brand for the average whiskey drinker. Quality isn’t lost, and Stellum has received its fair share of accolades, including from me. While Barrell Craft Spirits has its Gray and Gold Labels to denote rare offerings, Stellum has its Black Label line.


Today I’m tasting two of the newest Black Label whiskeys: one is a Bourbon called Equinox Blend #1, and the other is an American Rye called Fibonacci Blend #1. These are the inaugural whiskeys in its brand-new Specialty Blends line.


“Stellum Black specialty blends evoke the familiarity of two classic styles of American whiskey, taken one step further through our innovative blending and tasting process. Each limited-release blend has an alternate blending profile that incorporates reserve barrels from our stocks with the original Stellum blend.”Joe Beatrice, Founder


I must thank Stellum Spirits for providing me a sample of each whiskey in exchange for a no-strings-attached, honest review. Now, it is time to #DrinkCurious and taste how they each fare.


Equinox Blend #1 (Bourbon)

This Bourbon began with Stellum Black Label Bourbon, then the folks at Stellum layered other Bourbons from “rare” (read: older) casks, one at a time, until the Vernal Equinox (hence its name). The idea was to celebrate the change of seasons.  


The core Bourbon blend comes from MGP, George Dickel, and Jim Beam. Of those, there are three MGP components: two are high rye with 60% corn, 36% rye, and 4% malted barley, and the other 99% corn and 1% malted barley. The Beam and Dickel components are undisclosed but older than the MGP. The additional, older stocks are from Beam and Dickel.


The result is a 117.26° Bourbon, about eight points higher than the original Stellum Black Label. It is non-chill filtered and carries no age statement. You’ll pay approximately $99.00, which is available in 48  of the 50 states.


Appearance: Poured neat in my Glencairn glass, the Equinox Blend looked like burnt umber. It created a medium-thin rim that generated heavy tears, which crashed into the pool.


Nose:  A fruity blast of cherry and plum greeted my nostrils. Nutmeg and toasted oak combined with vanilla and cinnamon. Maple syrup and orange zest filled my mouth as I inhaled the vapor.


Palate:  I encountered a warm, slightly oily texture that demanded my attention. The first thing I found was cinnamon, apricot, and nutmeg. The spice started building with clove and was joined by candied orange peel and vanilla at the middle.  Oak tannins, caramel, and old leather tied things up on the back.  


Finish:  Medium in duration, the leather, caramel, and clove notes stuck around. Then, the oak reanimated with a kiss before vanishing almost as quickly.


Bottle, Bar, or Bust: I know the idea was to fold layers of flavors into this whiskey, and Stellum certainly accomplished that task. The front, middle, and back went from spicy to sweet to something transitionary. I won’t say that I’ve never come across that before, but it is an unusual journey.


As I stated in the Palate notes, that first sip grabs you by the shoulders and stares directly in your eyes. I wasn’t convinced the Bourbon would get my stamp of approval. But, once the shock to my palate ended, those additional ones became more and more enjoyable, and eventually, I couldn’t wait to refill my glass. The price notwithstanding, Equinox takes my Bottle rating.


Fibonacci Blend #1 (American Rye)

Next up is the Rye, which is called Fibonacci Blend. I’m not a mathlete, far from it, but the name refers to the Fibonacci sequence, a series of numbers that come from the sum of the previous two numbers. To me, that’s just weird because something has to start first – there is a reason I write versus engaging in number stuff (although I have been known to count to ten without using my fingers).


Fibonacci, unlike Equinox, is a marriage of six different American Rye blends based upon the Fibonacci sequence. Even stating it, I still have a rough time wrapping my head around it. Whatever. You’re here to read about this whiskey, not to have a reject mathematician drone on and on. The source materials are undisclosed, but you can bet MGP, Dickel, and Beam were involved.


Bottled at 115.2°, it, too, is non-chill filtered and takes $99.00 to bring one home. Like the Bourbon, it is available in 48 states around the country.


Appearance: The liquid appeared as a bright orange-amber in my Glencairn glass. A microthin rim released heavy, wavy legs.


Nose:  Toasted oak, almond, and tobacco notes were easy to pluck from the air. Less obvious were nutmeg and orange citrus. As I drew the air through my lips, vanilla took over. Strangely, I found no evidence of floral or spicy rye in the nosing experience.


Palate:  An oil slick hit my tongue, and this is where the rye content introduced itself with mint. That was joined by honey and vanilla to complete the front. The middle consisted of cinnamon and orange zest, while the back featured clove, cocoa, and old, dry oak.


Finish:  Once the liquid was gone, the dry oak was pronounced. I had to wait a couple of minutes before I found flavors of ginger, clove, rye spice, and cinnamon. The finish kept going like the Energizer Bunny, sucking the moisture from my mouth.


Bottle, Bar, or Bust:  The inaugural blend of Fibonacci is mysterious. While the Equinox grew on me, I was more involved in trying to dissect the Rye and spent less time simply drinking it. You absolutely must enjoy spicy whiskeys as I do to consider it. Fibonacci is what I might describe as a thinking person’s whiskey. I believe that in and upon itself earns the admission for a Bottle rating.


Epilogue:  If I was standing at a liquor store looking at both bottles and wondering which to buy, both are very good, but Equinox would get my money. Cheers!


My Simple, Easy to Understand Rating System

  • Bottle = Buy It
  • Bar = Try It
  • Bust = Leave It


Whiskeyfellow encourages you to enjoy your whiskey as you see fit but begs you do so responsibly.



Wednesday, June 22, 2022

Barrell Craft Spirits Gold Label Seagrass Whisky Review & Tasting Notes

In 2021, I named Barrell Seagrass the winner of my Best Blended Whisky Award.


“This is probably the most unusual whisky I’ve tried. It was sweet. It was spicy. It was earthy. The challenge became both exciting and a little frustrating. But, as I experienced the frustration, I caught myself smiling because the mystifying quality just worked for whatever reason.”  


Then, earlier this year, I tried the Gray Label Seagrass, made from 100% Canadian whisky aged at least 16 years. It was my first “win” for Canadian whisky. That’s important because I am not the biggest fan of the category. 

Now, Barrell Craft Spirits sent me a sample of its Gold Label Seagrass for a no-strings-attached, honest review. Whereas Gray Label was 16 years, Gold Label is 20 years. As you’d imagine, that comes at a price hike to $499.99 for a 750ml bottle.


“Gold Label Seagrass epitomizes our team’s expertise in global sourcing and blending, both in whiskey and finishing materials. This exceptional whiskey is remarkably flavorful, showcasing the best of the Seagrass profile in a whiskey that can only be made this complex and nuanced with time in the barrel.” – Joe Beatrice, Barrell Craft Spirits CEO and Founder


If you’re unfamiliar with Barrell Craft Spirits, that needs to change. Like anyone else, not everything is a home run, but much of it is. Barrell Craft Spirits locates whiskeys and rums from around the world, finds unusual cooperages, and creates only cask-strength offerings for the marketplace.


How does Gold Label Seagrass fare? The only way to know for sure is to #DrinkCurious, so let’s get that done right now.


Appearance: Poured neat in my Glencairn glass, this version of Seagrass looked like burnished gold. A micro-thin rim was formed, and it vanished into a curtain that instantly crashed back to the pool.


Nose: A bold fruity aroma of apricot, raisin, pineapple and citrus hid hazelnut and burnt sugar beneath. When I pulled the air into my mouth, there was a combination of stewed peach and apricot.


Palate: I encountered an oily, medium-weight texture indicative of its stated proof. The front of my palate discovered pineapple, honey, and maple syrup, while the middle featured hazelnut, molasses, and a burst of lemon juice. The back had flavors of leather, rye spice, and black pepper.


Finish: It was as if this whisky had caught fire. Clove became some of the hottest cinnamon I’ve had yet. Leather was next, and it all ended with apricot and lemon peel.


Bottle, Bar, or Bust: Let’s get something out of the way. As I have always stated, this is a review site for the average whisky drinker. A $500.00 whisky is typically outside the budget for most. Gold Label Seagrass is no different. However, it is an impressive whisky, well worth drinking, and the only reason it is limited to its Bar rating is due to the price. Like the Gray Label Seagrass, this is an excellent example of what a Canadian whisky could be.


My Simple, Easy to Understand Rating System

  • Bottle = Buy It
  • Bar = Try It
  • Bust = Leave It


Whiskeyfellow encourages you to enjoy your whiskey as you see fit but begs you do so responsibly.



Monday, March 28, 2022

Barrell Craft Spirits Batch 032 Bourbon Review & Tasting Notes

Barrell Craft Spirits is one of those non-distilling producers (NDP) that causes me a little giddyup in my step when a sample winds up on my doorstep. Barrell is a Louisville, Kentucky-based NDP that doesn’t just source a barrel; they take various barrels and blend them to something (hopefully) special. I’ve been impressed with what Joe Beatrice and his crew created for the most part.


The most recent release is Batch 032, a Bourbon married of barrels from Kentucky, Tennessee, and Indiana. Who distills those? While Barrell won’t disclose that information, I’ve long suspected the Kentucky distillery is Jim Beam, Tennessee is George Dickel, and Indiana is, without a doubt, MGP. I’ve published this repeatedly; Barrell has never corrected me.


“Batch 032 began with a balance of two sets of barrels: a selection of 5 and 6-year-old barrels with a creamy and tropical profile and a selection of 6, 7, and 10-year-old barrels vatted for their complex, old, woody character. These two sets of barrels were slowly blended over three months. A small group of spice-driven 7-year-old barrels with notes of cinnamon toast, coffee bean, and chocolate were then carefully added to complete the blend. The result is a decadent and rich bourbon with layers of spice and nuttiness.”Barrell Craft Spirits


One thing I respect Barrell for is everything they produce is at cask-strength. Nothing is proofed down. If you want to change things up, you can add a few drops of water yourself, but Barrell won’t do that for you. Batch 032 weighs in at 115.34°, and you can expect to pay about $89.00 for a 750ml package.


I thank Barrell Craft Spirits for providing me a sample of Batch 032 in exchange for a no-strings-attached, honest review. Now, it is time to #DrinkCurious and taste how it fares.


Appearance: Poured neat in my trusty Glencairn Glass, Barrell Batch 032 presented as burnt umber. It created a fragile rim that released thicker, slow legs to rejoin the pool of liquid sunshine.


Nose: From the moment I cracked the lid, a waft of old oak hit my nostrils. Upon closer inspection, I found cedar, cherry, plum, and caramel, which then became floral before spicy notes of cinnamon and mint kicked in. When I pulled the air into my mouth, vanilla and caramel caressed my tongue.


Palate: Many of the Barrell Bourbons I’ve tried were oily. Batch 032 was different. The texture was creamy with a medium weight. The first flavors to engage my palate were cinnamon spice, vanilla, and almond pastry. The back offered a taste of clove, charred oak, and ginger spice.


What happened to the middle? That was almost transitionary between the softer front and spicier back.


Finish:  Once I swallowed, the finish was soft and spicy before ramping up to big, bold spices. Cinnamon, clove, and ginger led to a kiss of citrus before being completely subdued by freshly-cracked black pepper. It was a ramping experience.


Bottle, Bar, or Bust:  I had fun with Batch 032. The middle was almost frustrating as I took sip after sip, trying to find something that would stand out. It is also one of those dangerous whiskeys; there is no way you’d guess this was 115+° - it went down way too easily. And, because I attempted to nail down the middle, I got a tad buzzed. If you like rye-forward Bourbons (I do), you will go ga-ga over Batch 032. It is a true representation of a Bottle rating. Cheers!


My Simple, Easy to Understand Rating System

  • Bottle = Buy It
  • Bar = Try It
  • Bust = Leave It


Whiskeyfellow encourages you to enjoy your whiskey as you see fit but begs you do so responsibly.



Wednesday, February 16, 2022

Barrell Craft Spirits Gray Label Whiskey (2021) Review & Tasting Notes

I say this with pretty much any Canadian whisky I’m about to review:  I am on a mission to find a Canadian whisky I enjoy. So far, that’s been a losing proposition. There have been some that are stunningly horrendous and others that are tolerable. But, nothing to date has been good, let alone great.


I have high hopes for today’s pour. It is from Barrell Craft Spirits, and it has a long history of knowing what it is doing. It is called Gray Label Whiskey; this is its second release and is a 24-year blend.


“Gray Label Whiskey began with two selections of 24-year Canadian whiskey barrels: one set was fruit-forward and tropical, and one was woody, with a light floral aroma. A portion of the fruit-forward blend was transferred into Oloroso Sherry barrels and a portion of the floral and earthy blend was transferred into Armagnac casks. The remaining whiskey from the two groups was then combined to mingle. When the timing and flavor from the finishing casks peaked, the three components were carefully blended together.” – Barrell Craft Spirits 


Aging took place in both Canada and the United States. The final product was bottled in Kentucky at its cask strength of 60.82% (121.64°). In line with other Gray Label releases, you can expect to pay $250.00 for a 750ml package.


Based on everything I’ve read from Barrell, I still have high hopes. I love XO Armagnac. I enjoy whiskeys finished in Armagnac casks, as I do with Oloroso sherry butts. And, to my knowledge, I’ve not had a 24-year Canadian whisky before. The equation for success is there. Will Gray Label be my holy grail?  Before I #DrinkCurious, I appreciate Barrell’s generosity in providing me a sample for a no-strings-attached, honest review.


Appearance: Poured neat in my Glencairn glass, Gray Label Whiskey presented as the color of golden straw. I had to hold the glass at a weird angle in front of a light to pick out the fragile rim. The droplets that stuck to the wall like glue were much easier to find.


Nose: This is a 24-year whiskey, and for whatever reason, corn was the first thing I smelled. But, it was quickly subdued by apricot, citrus peel, ginger, fennel, nutmeg, and vegetal notes. When I thought I identified everything, crushed red grape and toasted bread grabbed my attention. When I drew the air into my mouth, I found vanilla.


Palate: The texture was thin and oily. I tasted melon, raisin, and vanilla custard on the front. The middle offered cherry and plum, along with oak. The back featured rye spice, fresh rosemary, and green pepper.


Finish:  The finish was earthy and consisted of walnut, ginger, mint, green pepper, a dash of oak, mushroom, and rosemary. There was some candied fruit that I could not put my finger on, try as I might. It was a long finish, with the mint and fennel lasting the longest.


Bottle, Bar, or Bust:  I’m at the point where I don’t even care what the price is. All I want is a good Canadian whisky. It was one of the more interesting Canadians I’ve tried, but I still can’t say I’ve found a winner. It is something I could see fans of Canadian whiskies enjoying. It just didn’t work for me, so I’m tossing a Bar rating at it. Cheers!


My Simple, Easy to Understand Rating System

  • Bottle = Buy It
  • Bar = Try It
  • Bust = Leave It


Whiskeyfellow encourages you to enjoy your whiskey as you see fit but begs you do so responsibly.



Wednesday, January 26, 2022

Barrell Craft Spirits Gold Label Bourbon Review & Tasting Notes

I’m no stranger to Barrell Craft Spirits. With its Master Blender Joe Beatrice and his team, they bring us (always) barrel-proof whiskeys that go beyond the average sourced offerings. Sometimes the whiskeys are US-based, occasionally Canadian, sometimes from other venues, but you can count on what’s in the bottle to be decidedly different from what you’re used to.


Recently, Barrell introduced us to its Gray Label whiskeys. These were premium offerings, above and beyond the “standard” releases. Made from older stocks, they commanded a premium price tag. And, now, there’s something called Gold Label, which is a step above the Gray.


Today’s review is Barrell Gold Label Bourbon. What’s inside is sourced from Tennessee, Kentucky, and Indiana. You can read that (in my opinion) as George Dickel, Jim Beam, and MGP, respectively. These are 16- and 17-year stocks! Barrell opted for four lots of barrels:

  • Cherry-bombs
  • Nut/oak-forward
  • High-proof
  • Milk chocolate

The exciting thing is that the last group was finished in toasted virgin oak barrels.


“Barrell Craft Spirits Gold Label Bourbon is a blend of 16- and 17-year-old straight bourbons. Barrels for this release were selected from four different collections: cherry bomb barrels with a rich mouthfeel, nutty oak-forward barrels, high proof and high complexity barrels, and barrels with pronounced milk chocolate notes. The last group underwent a secondary maturation in toasted virgin American oak casks before being added to this intricate and seductive blend.” – Barrell Craft Spirits.

The resulting product is a Bourbon that weighs in at 113.54° and the price – hold onto your seats – is $499.99. On the plus side, it comes with a red gift box.


I want to thank Barrell Craft Spirits for providing me a sample of Gold Label Bourbon in exchange for a no-strings-attached, honest review. That means it is time to #DrinkCurious and figure out what this is all about.


Appearance: Drank neat from my Glencairn glass, this Bourbon was deep and dark, the color of burnt umber. It took an effort to create a rim, and when it did, it was micro-thin but led to long, wavy legs.


Nose: Crème Brulee was the first thing I smelled, and it almost punched me in the nose. Beneath that were toasted marshmallow, hazelnut, almond, oak, cherry pie filling, and apple pie filling (yeah, I had to come back several times to confirm those last two). When I drew the aroma in my mouth, it was like sucking on chocolate-covered cherries.


Palate:  The mouthfeel was creamy and thick. Caramel, vanilla, peanut, and leather ruled the front. The middle featured fresh mint, cherry, plum, and berry. I tasted ginger, oak, cocoa, and tobacco on the back.


Finish:  This was one of those never-ending finishes. Sure, it ended eventually, but it seemed to run forever. Mint, oak, black pepper, ginger, chocolate, and marshmallow cream stuck around for a captivating experience.  There was no Flintstone vitamin quality from the Dickel portion. This is one of those sneaky bastards – it drinks much lower than its stated proof, but, dang, it makes up for it with a 2x4 once it catches up.


Bottle, Bar, or Bust:  I’ll get this out of the way. I’ve never paid $500.00 for a Bourbon, and I don’t see myself doing that anytime soon. That’s me. Barrell Gold Label Bourbon is stupendous. It is gorgeous. It is delicious. It is amazing. If you have $500.00 burning a hole in your pocket, this would be a nice investment. It would be a real treat for those of us who have lighter wallets to try this at a Bar. Cheers!


My Simple, Easy to Understand Rating System

  • Bottle = Buy It
  • Bar = Try It
  • Bust = Leave It


Whiskeyfellow encourages you to enjoy your whiskey as you see fit but begs you do so responsibly.