Tag Archives: barrell bourbon

Barrell Bourbon Batch 8 Review

Producer: Barrell Bourbon. Distiller: undisclosed TN distillery. ABV: 66.4%. Age: 9.5 years. Mashbill: 70% corn, 25% rye, 5% malted barley. Price: $80.

Axis readers know well that we’re big fans of Barrell Bourbon. The whole project I liked from the beginning: a single man with a singular palate–who also happens to be a heck of a nice guy–selecting and bottling 100% cask strength, unfiltered, true single barrel bourbons ad whiskies from Kentucky, Tennessee, and Indiana.

Joe Beatrice has released eight bourbons and two whiskies so far, and I’ve had the pleasure of trying nearly every one. I opened the latest, Barrell Bourbon batch 8, with a big smile. It’s the oldest so far, at 9.5 years, and the strongest, at a whopping 66.4% ABV, distiled and aged in Tennessee.

The nose is a big one–no surprise there. On the bright, brash, fir forest side. The mashbill’s 25% rye, and it shows. Roasted peanuts and caramel corn, slightly burnt. The palate adds buttered pumpernickel bread and loads of cinnamon spice. A touch of minerality emerges on the long, dark, oaky-sweet finish.

How do you keep impressing when you’ve released so many memorable bottlings so far? Ask Joe Beatrice. I’ll tell you one thing: it must be a good problem to have.

Cheers, friends! – BO

Barrell Bourbon kindly provided a sample for review. As always, our opinions are 100% our own.

Buy Barrell Bourbon online at Mash + Grape

Barrell Bourbon Batch 7 & Barrell Whiskey Batch 2 Review

Barrell Bourbon Batch 7 – Producer: Barrell Bourbon. Distiller: undisclosed TN distillery. ABV: 61.2%. Age: 5 years. Mash bill: 70% corn, 25% rye, 5% malted barley. Price: $70-80.

Barrell Whiskey Batch 2 – Producer: Barrell Bourbon. Distiller: MGP. ABV: 61.9%. Age: 9.5 years. Mash bill: corn, rye, malted barley (proportions undisclosed). Price: $70-80.

Two exciting new releases from Joe Beatrice of Barrell Bourbon, whose reputation for impeccable taste in sourcing and bottling true single barrel, all-cask strength bourbons and whiskies is growing by the day–and justly so. (See our Joe Beatrice interview here.)

Batch 7 of his bourbon is the youngest yet at 5 years, and Batch 2 of the whiskey has an intriguing sherry cask finish. Let’s dive in!

Barrell Bourbon Batch 7

The nose immediately dispels any concerns that this one might be too young. It’s a straight-up flavor bomb, starting with carts full of sweet toasted tobacco. Dark fragrant oak. Cinnamon. Mint playing at the edges. With a few drops of water, it brightens. With more–and the high proof leaves lots of room to play in–it really comes alive, with the oak blooming into cedar.

On the palate, the oak and mint blend into white pine sap, behind which are baking spices galore: nutmeg and ginger especially. Sweetness and tannins play along the long finish…baked apple with a little char on the bottom.

The image that kept popping into my mind was of a lacquered box. It takes a fair bit of water to open it properly, but the goodies inside make it worth the effort.

Bourbon Whiskey Batch 2

Cask-finished American whiskies are more common than they used to be, but I’ve never had one done this well.

The nose has the bright buttery baked-goods notes familiar from other excellent Barrell bottlings of MGP whiskies–think fresh challah with a golden crust. But then! Utterly bewitching velvety warmth from the sherry cask.

A little water unlocks roasted cocoa beans, along with pleasantly musty mature barrel notes common in 21+ year old single malt Scotches. The palate explodes with buttery MGP goodness and sherry fruits–dry at first, then juicier with time and water. Graham cracker and fresh tobacco. The finish  reintroduces each element one and at a time, letting you savor the whole experience over again in a slow fade.

Amazing how well the sherry flavors integrate. It reminded me of the Kings County Peated Bourbon in this respect: there, the toasty flavors from the peat blended in so well, I wondered whether a blind taster would identify the presence of peat at all. With the Barrell Whiskey Batch 2, I wonder whether a blind taster would identify the finish as sherry–or just beg for a second pour.

Two more excellent outings from a man who loves what he does, and does it damn well. Cheers, friends! – BO

Mash + Grape kindly provided samples for review. As always, our opinions are 100% our own.

Buy Barrell Bourbon online at Mash + Grape

Interview with Joe Beatrice of Barrell Bourbon

Joe Beatrice of Barrell Bourbon — a blender and bottler of cask-strength American whiskies that’s collected serious accolades since its launch in January 2014 — generously made time for a fun and frank Q&A with the Axis on the origins of Barrell Bourbon, the bourbon shortage (or myth thereof), class action lawsuits, transparency, and more.

The interview has been edited for length and clarity, and corrects the mashbill of Barrell Bourbon Batch 005.

Q. How did you move from the ad game into whiskey bottling? What’s your whiskey love story?

A. I started in advertising and direct marketing early on. In 1989 I had the first of two big revelations in my life: I knew the Internet was where I wanted to work. I started a company that did web development, online strategy, and marketing for some pretty big clients. We always had a spirits vertical. We worked with Glenmore Distilleries, which was sold to United Distillers and run by Chris Morris. [Morris is now Master Distiller at Brown-Forman. -BO]

Life went on as it does. Years later my wife and I were at a distillery — just taking a tour as civilians — and I had my second big epiphany: This is what I want to do.

I’d been a brewer my whole life, and the first thing anybody wants to do in the spirit business is to distill. That lasted about a week. The economics of it are awful. I decided I had to make money another way, then come back in a couple of years as a gentleman distiller.

Photo from instagram.com/barrellbourbon
Photo from instagram.com/barrellbourbon

This was at the very beginning of the comeback of bourbon and brown spirits. I saw that the premium and ultrapremium whiskey segments were growing, and I wanted to play in cask strength, because I’d tasted cask strength from the barrel during my career and thought, “Why isn’t everybody drinking it like this?”

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