Thanks to walking_spanish and georgejessel for these samples.
Me, 3 years ago Man, this Barrell company is really taking off. Perhaps I can find some samples and do a proper vertical
Me, 5 weeks ago Why do I have four samples of Barrell?
Yeah that was my thoughts. I met some people who shared some, but didn’t find any beyond the ones here (and a 004), there may have been a global pandemic and changing of careers, and some other things in there. Life happened and hunting down rare bourbon had to go so I could.. Uh… flips pages feed and house myself and meet the inherent needs of being a human being.
Barrell brings out some different things, and for that I’m happy. They don’t hold themselves back in what they bring out. I really do feel like the company has some idea of whisky in North America.
At least the marketing says that. But what does the whiskey say? Other than “Hey, finish your samples because any moment you’re not working towards improvement means you’re not worthy of the love you get in the world”. Oh, wait, that’s just my own mental script.
Let’s see what I was able to try, shall we?
So I wrote the wrong whiskey because my old notes got mixed up. Thus if you’re read this already, here’s the thing: Barrell has whiskey’s they bring out and bourbon. I wrote down that I had the whiskey, reviewed it like I did, and then found out it wasn’t that.
So what is this? It’s actually a cask strength Tennessee whiskey, which I should have more of them.
So let’s see what I liked about it, shall we?
Price: $90 USD (in 2017)
Age: 8 years, 3 months
Aged in American White Oak Barrels (Virgin)
Mash bill: 70% Corn, 26% Rye, 4% Malted Barley
Colour: 10YR 4/8
Nose: Oatmeal cinnamon raisin cookie, raspberry, wood, almondine
So there’s some sweet nuttiness (huhuhuh), some tart, and some regular wood notes.
We got that out of the way? Because the main note is all oatmeal cinnamon raisin cookies. Purely that. We’re talking dad jokes and daddy’s favourite here. Takes over like the first guy to get to the grill.
Taste: Cherry, molasses, carrot, ginger, mint, cinnamon
Wow, that cherry note is very nice. And there’s some nice, standard bourbon flavours of carrot, and various spices.
Oh, and all of it hints at an oatmeal raisin cookie, though before it’s made.
Finish: Molasses, ginger, dry apple, cherry, limoncello
Nice tartness, good strong acidity, and more of those Autumnal themes. Less of Daddy’s Favourite though, which is okay. Still has those rich sweet aspects.
Conclusion: It’s an adult oatmeal raisin cookie… Wait, only adults eat those anyway. It’s an alcoholic one? Wait, our generation of adults don’t drink as much. Huh, guess it’s just a very interesting flavour pairing.
So at the end of the day I’d say this was worth it as an oddity first, and as a good way to drink oatmeal raisin cookies second.
Barrell Batch 006 is a bit simpler: We have a Tennessee whiskey aged in charred white oak for 8 years. No mention if it went through the Tennessee process or not: Also no mention if it’s from JD or Dickel.
Finally I looked up the mash bill given and it didn’t line up to what one website wrote as the mash bill. So the website is either wrong, this was a test, or someone else made it.
Weirdly the only mash bill I could find that is similar is Few, which is made in Illinois. However I’ve also read that they sourced from Dickel and some of the mashbills were changed for them.
So let’s take a second and not care where this is from. It’s long enough that if it was pure poison we’d know. So let’s just see what this high proof whiskey tastes like, shall we?
Price: $90 (in 2017)
Age: 8 years, 6 months
Aged in Charred White Oak Barrels (Virgin)
Mash bill: 70% corn, 26% rye, 4% malted barley
Colour: 7.5YR 5/8
Nose: Wood, beeswax, grass, strawberries, apple cinnamon
Some fruit, some woody/dry notes with the beeswax, grass, and wood. Seems balanced. Doesn’t nose like it’s proof. Which makes it dangerous, just not as dangerous as I thought it could be.
Water opens up with more spice which I prefer as I am the spirit of Autumn and you can’t prove otherwise.
Taste: Black pepper, caramel, turnip, red licorice, children’s vitamins
Simpler on the taste, with the fruit being turned down to 1 (on a 10 scale which I’ll never use again), some caramel, earth, and heat. Doesn’t really go beyond there, save for water bringing out this odd Flinstone’s vitamins flavour.
So I think it’s Dickel now even though I have read statements about the mash bill that it probably isn’t. Yay me.
Finish: Dry apple, wood, banana, musty, herbal
Nice banana finish. Now I think it’s JD (I’m joking, I still don’t care). Raise it up because the rest is dry, quick, and boring. Which is funny because that was my nickname in high school.
I always carried a towel.
Conclusion: If I had to guess, I’d say it’s Dickel, but if I’m bad at mysteries normally, I’m very bad at US whiskey mysteries more so. Gets a lot better if you give it time/water, and really benefits from a long sit.
That said it never really wows me. It has an interesting nose. That’s about what it has going for it. It’s not bad, and I didn’t hate it, and there were moments of “huh, that’s faintly interesting”.
On the other hand I think there’s a group of people which will add this as an interesting whiskey on their shelf. Have fun with it, not for me.
Barrell Batch 007b is probably what every single whiskey nerd would do if they had the chance. And if all of you are saying otherwise, y’all need to drink more whiskey.
They release Barrell Batch 007 and it sells because who doesn’t love James Bond? I mean other than anyone who realizes the major issues with the character, the lack of explaining how he’s lasted so long, or the casual toxic masculinity. Other than that everyone loves it and wants a whiskey that tastes like he’s made love to it (Citation Needed).
That’s a joke, I don’t know what 007a tasted like. It was released, a Kentucky whiskey that was distilled in Tennessee and aged in Kentucky, that was aged for 5 years. Some barrels stayed back, aged another 14 weeks during summer, as well as a truck ride and the fact that these may have been different at time of bottling 007a meant they had a new whiskey.
Thus we have the smallest release from Barrell (at the time, who knows how things have changed since 2017 [with the company, not just how much the world changed]).
So how does this taste? Let’s see, shall we?
Price: $90 (in 2017)
Region: Kentucky (Crafted) / Tennessee (Distilled and Aged)
Aged in Char #4 American white oak barrels
Mash bill: 70% corn, 25% rye, 5% malted barley
Colour: 10YR 5/8
Nose: Stewed peaches, wood, cereal, chlorine, fruit punch
Lots of peach notes, and also a ton of chemical/fake fruit notes. Confusing to have because I’m jumping between fake and real fruit flavours. Hard to nail down. Is it inviting? Is it not? Like having sex on a bed of nails I’m conflicted but I’m also not leaving.
Jokes aside I did enjoy the eventual outcome on the nose, though in the same way I love really cheap pizza. It works, you know?
Taste: Butter, brown sugar, fruit punch, ginger, hazelnut
Butter, some molasses, and more of that fake fruit punch. If the nose had issues then the taste had some therapy and came out a better rounded part of society. Also it has hazelnuts, which I guess are the receptionist in this case? Perhaps I’ve stretched this as far as it can go.
Finish: Watermelon, mint, brown sugar, wood
Wow, that finish leaves you unhappy. Sharp, lingers, and very sweet/woody. Full on relapse. The sad thing is the light melon and mint work really well and then there’s these rough notes of the wood and that encapsulates the whole shebang. Very sweet.
Conclusion: Good nose and taste, not great finish. Not a bad finish. I can see why you’d want to age it a bit more. But I could also see the argument to bottle it now.
Five-year whiskey that tastes like this? Alright, yeah, bottle it. But the finish? Maybe more time can help?
Granted also this supposedly tastes different than 007a. What I can say is this tastes and noses in an interesting way. It’s not super nice and calm about the flavours. Don’t know if I’d buy a bottle, but I’m looking for 007a now.
Barrell Batch 009 was the oldest whiskey released by Barrell (as of 2016) and also the lowest proof (again, as of the release date). Supposedly it’s from Dickel and it’s a mash bill that won’t be used again and hasn’t been used before.
Now I’m more of a Scotch whisky fan. My father’s the bourbon fan. That doesn’t mean I don’t like Bourbon, I just know what I prefer. So when I say the following about an experimental mash bill please know it comes from a place where I need to learn more:
Part of me wonders why they never made it again. Does it need time? Dit it need to be aged in a cooler climate? Does it taste bad? Good? Does it matter?
At the end of the day what we have is an older Tennessee whiskey. And really I can pontificate and guess at things and all I’ll be is as bad as conspiracy theory idiots. We’re not here to determine if the world is flat or if Canada is breeding hunter/killer moose shaped drones (we’re totally not).
So let’s see how this tastes, shall we?
Price: $116 (as of right now)
Region: Tennessee (Distilled) / Tennessee / Kentucky (Aged)
Aged in: American white oak barrels
Mash bill: 75% corn, 18% rye, 7% malted barley
Colour: 5YR 5/10
Nose: Anise, honey, fresh bread, lime, plantain, (with water) brown sugar
Ok… well hot damn, I didn’t expect this at all. Lots of bread and honey, a good amount of plantain, some acidity. It’s all very nice and off the beaten path.
Then I added water and it’s mostly brown sugar and the intricacies are gone.
Taste: Dates, wood, sorghum, (with water) cloves, anise, melon
Rich flavours and thick flavours. Lots of that brown sugar driven flavour.
This is the one place where water helps, though it still hurts. The spice and melon notes are nice, but the water removes that sweet aspect. Think of it like having a cinnamon bun but you only have enough money for spices or for sugar and butter. I enjoy it, but damn that’s not an easy choice.
Finish: Dates, honey, cereal, almond, molasses, passionfruit
Really strong sugar flavour, good amount of nuttiness, and a bit of fruit and funk.
If water ruined the nose, and kinda helped (and hindered) the taste, then the finish doesn’t really have much difference with it.
Conclusion: Water really takes away some of the more interesting flavours and leaves generic flavours, sadly (though it doesn’t mess up the finish). Reminds me of a Euro-aged Bourbon, though still has some of those typical American aged notes.
That said, this is easier to get than a lot of Euro-Bourbons. It’s interesting. More of this should be out there. Something that’s different without using a finish. Why leave this mash bill alone? Come on Dickel and Barrell, this needs to be out there more. It’s a sweet, rich, unctuous bourbon. Figure out the water issue and you’re set.
Or maybe it’s too pricey. I don’t know the background on it. Maybe I’m weird in liking it. But I hope to run into more of them.
Bourbon review #272-275, Kentucky / Tennessee review #3-4, Tennessee #13-14, Whiskey Network review #2108-2111