Showing posts with label Stellum Spirits. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Stellum Spirits. Show all posts

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.



Monday, January 3, 2022

Stellum Black Label Rye and Bourbon Reviews & Tasting Notes


If you’ve ever been curious about an American Express card, there are some basic levels. Green is for the average user. Above that is gold, then above that is platinum. And that’s it, right? Well, not exactly.


You see, beyond the platinum card that any peasant can apply for is something called American Express Black. This card is so exclusive that there’s no way to apply for it. The only way to get your hands on one is via an invitation, and you have to charge between $250,000 and $450,000 a year to maintain it.


Meant to give a similar aura of exclusivity is Stellum Black Label. You don’t need an invitation to get your hands on it, but it is pretty limited. Stellum offers both a Bourbon and a Rye, and in each case, they begin with the original stocks of Stellum and then “fold in” older whiskeys.


“For Stellum Black, we maintained the soul of Stellum while creating a new dimension of flavor by adding reserve barrels from our stocks. We’ve refined this layering technique over time which produces whiskeys focused on both immediate flavor and a long-developed complexity. The result is an entirely new set of whiskeys that has its roots firmly planted in the inaugural whiskeys.”Joe Beatrice, founder of Barrell Craft Spirits


I’m reviewing both the Bourbon and Rye today. Like anything else out of Stellum Spirits or Barrell Craft Spirits, these are both cask strength whiskeys, both sourced from Indiana (MGP), Tennessee (George Dickel), and Kentucky (Jim Beam). Both have a suggested retail of $99.99.  Unlike the standard releases, Stellum Black Label will be allocated nationally. Both are non-chill filtered.


Before I get started on the tasting notes, I’d like to thank Barrell Craft Spirits for sending me a sample of both in exchange for a no-strings-attached, honest review. Let's #DrinkCurious and learn all about these.

I’ll begin with the Bourbon. 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 they’re older than the MGP. It is packaged at 109.22°.


Appearance: Served neat in my Glencairn glass, Black Label Bourbon presented as caramel in color. It formed a thicker than expected rim and slow, lumbering legs.


Nose: An intense bouquet of cinnamon, nutmeg, brown sugar, vanilla, and orange peel was enticing. As I drew the aroma into my mouth, cherry vanilla rolled across my tongue.


Palate:  An oily, full-bodied texture greeted my mouth. At the front, I tasted vanilla, caramel, leather, and nuts. The middle transitioned to plum, coconut, and cocoa powder. I found tobacco leaf, cinnamon spice, and old oak on the back.


Finish:  A very long, warming finish consisted of plum, nuts, orange zest, caramel, old oak, leather, tobacco leaf, and cinnamon spice. It didn’t even try to hide the proof, as my hard palate tingled almost immediately. However, the caramel stuck around the longest.


Bottle, Bar, or Bust:  It was reasonably easy to pick out the Beam component, but less so with the Dickel and MGP, which was shocking, especially considering how much of the blend was out of Indiana. But, the telltale nuttiness was also something I looked for, so perhaps there was some subtle power of self-suggestion? The more I sipped it, the less I felt the proof. It never became something that drank under its stated proof, but the numbing factor ceased and allowed me to concentrate on other things.  I enjoyed this, and I could somehow feel this felt older than the Stellum Bourbon I reviewed last year.


Stellum Black Label Bourbon competes with its sibling, Barrell Bourbon, and they both cost about the same. I’m happy to toss a Bottle rating at it based upon that.

Next up is the Rye. The majority component is 95% rye and 5% malted barley from MGP. The smaller portions come from the others. It is packaged at 114.26°.


Appearance: Poured neat in my Glencairn glass, this Rye appeared as orange amber. It created a thinner rim that yielded slow, fat tears.


Nose: Caramel leaped from the glass and smacked me in the face. Beneath it were candied fruits, almonds, vanilla, and cinnamon spice. As I pulled the air into my mouth, orange cream danced across my tongue.


Palate:  A soft, silky mouthfeel greeted my palate. The front offered very dark chocolate and creamy caramel. Mint, clove, and dill were on the middle, while dry oak, black pepper, and a vast amount of new leather were on the back.


Finish:  I found the finish to build itself into a giant crescendo before plateauing, and then it just chugging along. Dark chocolate, dill, clove, and caramel started things off before leather and tannins came and left me making “thuck” noises with my tongue.


Bottle, Bar, or Bust:  It isn’t that often I come across a whisky that is so dry it sucks the moisture from your mouth. That’s a different sensation that, for whatever reason, always makes me go for another sip, which makes no sense because, in the back of my mind, I know it is going to dry my mouth again. Yet, the flavors are lovely together, and I enjoyed the extraordinarily long finish. A Bottle rating for sure, it is an experience worth experiencing.


Final Thoughts:  Given the option between Bourbon and Rye, I tend to gravitate to Rye. In the case of Stellum Black Label, I enjoyed the Bourbon more. That’s not to discount the Rye; it was just surprising. I had to taste them both again just to make sure.


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, April 19, 2021

Stellum Bourbon Review & Tasting Notes


Have you heard the news?  Barrell Craft Spirits has launched a new brand called Stellum Spirits. Stellum's mission is to be clean, straightforward, and polished. The name comes from a play on the Latin term stella, meaning star. Barrell will also tell you the name just sounded cool.

"Stellum stands with the modern American whiskey drinker. We respect the history of whiskey, but we're more interested in making spirits accessible to today's audience. With an eye towards innovation, minimalism, and inclusivity, Stellum Spirits is here for you, whoever you may be." - Stellum Spirits

Last week I reviewed Stellum Rye, and you can learn more about the brand from what I wrote there. Today, I'm going with Stellum Bourbon.

One of the "cool" things about Stellum Bourbon is how it is made. It begins with a blend of three MGP mashbills:  two that are high rye (60% corn, 36% rye, and 4% malted barley), and one that is 99% corn and 1% malted barley. The remainder consists of older whiskeys from Tennessee (George Dickel) and Kentucky (an undisclosed distillery). Stellum uses a multi-step blending process to make things "just right." It is non-chill filtered, carries no age statement, and is bottled at 114.98°. Available in 45 markets, you can expect to pay about $54.99 for a 750ml package.

Before I #DrinkCurious, I'd like to thank Stellum Spirits for providing me a sample of the Bourbon in exchange for a no-strings-attached, honest review. 

Appearance:  In my Glencairn glass, Stellum Bourbon was a chestnut-amber color. It formed a thicker rim that fabricated heavy, slow, sticky legs.

Nose:  Aromas of allspice and tobacco were easy to discern. I also smelled rye bread, toasted oak, and almond. When I took the vapor into my mouth, I discovered a mixture of strong almond and muted caramel.

Palate:  The mouthfeel was soft, light, and airy. This is just shy of 115°? I find that difficult to believe. On the front, flavors of vanilla, almond, and nougat gave it an almost candy bar experience. The middle featured cola, ginger, and honey. On the back, I tasted black pepper, clove, and cocoa powder. 

Finish:  A medium-length finish began with clove and cinnamon, and ended with toasted oak and a drop of honey.

Bottle, Bar, or Bust:  There are a few things I want to touch on. The first is that if you told me this was 90-some-odd proof, I'd believe you. To have something drink 20-points below its stated proof is crazy. It offered zero burn either on the initial sip or the finish. The second is that this is one of those dangerous whiskeys, meaning, if you were inclined to do so, you could probably drink dram after dram and not even realize you're getting plastered.

There was absolutely nothing I didn't enjoy about Stellum Bourbon. It wasn't overly complicated, it had interesting flavors. The only thing I'd be more interested in would be a long finish, as that would likely slow down the "dangerous" part.

For $54.99, you're going to be hard-pressed to not be pleased with your purchase. I'm thrilled to have this one in my whiskey library. As such, I offer my Bottle rating for Stellum Bourbon. Cheers!

My Simple, Easy to Understand Rating System

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

Wednesday, April 14, 2021

Stellum Spirits Straight Rye Review & Tasting Notes


Many of us have heard of Barrell Craft Spirits. They're blenders out of Louisville, Kentucky, and they experiment with Bourbon, Rye, and Rum to create some rather marvelous adult beverages. You can imagine my interest when I found out that BCS launched a new brand called Stellum Spirits

"Stellum Spirits is devoted to bringing American whiskey into the modern age with simple, elegant blends and single barrels selected with care and intention. Our whiskeys are created through a rigorous process of study, observation, and experimentation. We are driven by progress, polish, and—above all—attention to detail. We will always think critically about how to make our whiskey better and more accessible." - Stellum Spirits

Currently, Stellum has released two core whiskeys:  a Bourbon and a Rye.  It sources from the same distilleries as BCS (MGP out of Indiana, George Dickel out of Tennessee, and an undisclosed Kentucky distillery). However, Stellum is more affordable than the BCS offerings. I could make a variety of assumptions why, but I'd rather not spread unsubstantiated rumors and come across looking like a moron. Both whiskeys have a suggested retail of $54.99 and are available in 45 different markets across the United States.

Today I'm sipping on the Rye. The label says it is distilled in Indiana, but the website suggests Tennessee and Kentucky are also involved. The majority, the MGP distillate, is a 95% rye mashbill. Smaller portions of barley-forward rye mashbill have been added and the entire concoction is non-chill-filtered. Like many BCS products, Stellum Rye carries no age statement and is bottled at 116.24°.

Before I get to the tasting notes, I'd like to thank Stellum Spirits for providing a sample of the Rye in exchange for a no-strings-attached, honest review. Now it is time to #DrinkCurious and taste what this is all about.

Appearance:  In my Glencairn glass, Stellum Rye presented as the color of old copper. A medium ring formed, which yielded slow, heavy legs that fell back into the pool of liquid sunshine.

Nose:  Mint was very easy to pick up, way before I brought the glass to my face. Fennel struck me as I pulled the whiskey closer. Beneath them, I smelled clove, apple, and peach. When I inhaled the vapor into my mouth, mint and oak were distinctive. 

Palate:  I found the mouthfeel both oily and spicy. I don't usually suggest a mouthfeel is spicy, but it made my hard palate start to tingle almost immediately, and on my tongue, it felt as if dry spice was rubbed directly on it. On the front, anise, nutmeg, and white pepper started things off. The middle offered flavors of oak, lemon zest, and green Jolly Ranchers. The back consisted of coffee, spearmint, and a healthy dose of clove.

Finish:  Long, lingering, and spicy, the finish kept white pepper, clove, anise, spearmint, followed by pine, oak, and then, very late, char.

Bottle, Bar, or Bust:  I'm not a fan of anise - at all. And, yet, Stellum managed to make anise work for whatever reason. This rye is a spice bomb. If you've never had American Rye before, but have a preconceived notion of what it would taste like, Stellum Rye fits that bill almost perfectly. 

All the various spices mingled as if they were meant to be together (even the anise). The $54.99 price is more than fair, especially when you consider this is barrel-proof. I'm happy to convey my coveted Bottle rating for it. Cheers!

My Simple, Easy to Understand Rating System

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