Tag Archives: ndp

Barrell Bourbon Batch 12 Review

Producer: Barrell Craft Spirits. Distiller: undisclosed Tennessee distiller. ABV: 54.25%. Age: 9 years. Mashbill: 70% corn, 25% rye, 5% malted barley. Price: $80.

Batch 12 is the latest bourbon from Joe Beatrice’s Barrell Craft Spirits, which has been stunningly consistent in the quality of its releases–all cask strength, mostly bourbon, but also including several non-bourbon whiskies, a rum (spectacular), and a rye I’ve yet to try.

Barrell Bourbon Batch 12 shares the same mashbill with Batch 11, and almost certainly the same undisclosed Tennessee distiller, though 12 is a full 3 years older. Side-by-side, the two provide an interesting study in the differences that come with age and barrel selection.

Thane’s review of the Batch 11 highlighted the vanilla, caramel, butter, and peanut brittle profile. The Batch 12, to my palate, forefronts the citrus and spice.

The nose on the Barrell Bourbon Batch 12 is intensely lemon-y, followed by dark heavy oak and saddle leather. Strong black cherries in syrup follow, then intense bitter chocolate–think of those 85% cocoa bars for the truly jaded chocolate geeks.

The caramel and vanilla lead the palate, then comes the spice attack: cinnamon, nutmeg, and ginger. As always with Barrell bourbons, there’s all the room in the world to add water and dial in the intensity however you like. I found Batch 12 most enjoyable with a bit more water than I tend to give even its higher-proof predecessors.

The finish is extraordinarily long. On the dry side, with orange pith recalling the citrusy start.

Batch 11 was a very tough act to follow, winning Best Bourbon at the San Francisco World Spirits Competition. Batch 12 may not surpass it, but it’s another top-quality powerhouse by the man with the golden palate.

Cheers, friends! – BO

Barrell Craft Spirits graciously provided a sample for review. As always, our opinions are 100% our own.

Buy Barrell Craft Spirits online at Mash + Grape

Compass Box Peat Monster Review

Producer: Compass Box. Distiller: various (see below). Region: Islay/Islands/Highlands. ABV: 46%. No age statement. Price: $55-65.

I have a special weakness with Compass Box whiskies. The Flaming Heart 2015 was my favorite whisky of that year, and I have yet to write a review. I went through an entire Christmas bottle of Compass Box Peat Monster without writing a review. The problem is that they’re so good, and in such a particular way–which I attribute to the blending genius of founder John Glaser–that I get too absorbed in them to take notes. I just want to enjoy.

But revisiting the Peat Monster, I managed to get my act together. This beauty is a blended malt (also known as a pure malt), meaning it’s a mix of single malts, with no grain whisky. The malts come from Laphroaig, Caol Ila, Ardmore, Ledaig, an unnamed Highland distiller.

The peat is intense, but there are many peatier whiskies on the market by far. The priority here is on balance and nuance.

Nose: lively, fresh, grassy, but with the density and richness that only come from a fair proportion of older malt in the mix. Minimal sweetness. Dark vanilla. Almond flour. Mesquite. Lemongrass. Dry vermouth herbaciousness. I could nose it all night.

Three kinds of peat intertwine on the palate: briny, toasty, and savory/BBQ. The Laphroaig brings the ashiness and brine; the Caol Ila light lemony fruits, tilting from lemon to lime to grapefruit. Charred pear and watermelon candy later on. The finish is very long, with grapefruit rind, grenadine, white ash, and salty sea spray.

The Compass Box Peat Monster should be a staple in any peat lover’s cabinet. Sure is in mine.

Cheers, friends! – BO

Buy Compass Box whisky online from Mash + Grape

Barrell Bourbon Batch 11 Review

Producer: Barrell Craft Spirits. Distiller: undisclosed Tennessee distiller. ABV: 57.4%. Age: 6 years. Mashbill: 70% corn, 25% rye, 5% malted barley.

You’ve all seen Baldo’s deep and deserved love for the terrific offerings from Barrell Craft Spirits (f.k.a. Barrell Bourbon), but it was only recently that I was able to review a bottle of this superb product.

The Barrell Bourbon Batch 11 is from barrels distilled and aged in Tennessee, then bottled in Kentucky, with a mash bill of 70% corn, 25% rye, and 5% malted barley.

As you’d expect from a barrel strength bottling, this bourbon truly opens with a splash of water. I caught vanilla and caramel on the nose, along with summer county fair corn on the cob and a hint of cotton candy. The palate is a thing of complex and rich beauty. There’s a bit of brown butter sauce, subtle layers of spice over oat cakes, and a delightful hint of peanut brittle. The finish has all these flavors and more and is very nicely sustained. Very pleasingly to me, there was even a faint note of French press at the back end.

I was thrilled with my first Barrell experience and I can’t wait to see the next batch. Cheers, friends! – TM

Barrell Craft Spirits graciously provided a sample for review. As always, our opinions are 100% our own.

Buy Barrell Craft Spirits online at Mash + Grape

Barrell Rum Review

Producer: Barrell Craft Spirits. Distiller: undisclosed Jamaican distiller. ABV: 67.37%. Age: 7 years. Price: $70-100.

File this under “coming as a surprise to no one”: Barrell Rum Batch 1 is a stunner.

Joe Beatrice of Barrell Craft Spirits (f.k.a. Barrell Bourbon) has been putting out knockout barrel-proof whiskies for a few years now. He keeps releasing hits, and somehow keeps topping himself.

Joe took the sound approach of establishing a reputation by focusing on bourbons with a few core profiles first, then gradually branching out. He experimented with a sherry-finished American whiskey last year–which I loved–and now it’s joined by a rum.

Fred Minnick just wrote a great piece calling on bourbon geeks to lean on rum makers the same way they have on whiskey producers: to up transparency, eschew additives, and generally cut the BS. There are great rums out there that whiskey drinkers would love, Fred says, but the industry standards are so low that they’re lost in the sea of sugary additive-dosed swill.

Enter Joe Beatrice. He got his hands on a barrel of first-rate Jamaican rum, aged it seven years in a bourbon barrel, and bottled it the right way, uncut, unfiltered, unadulterated, and with zero BS. It’s a major eye-opener.

Big lime on the nose. Oak. Cooked cane sugar. Glossy, varnished fruit –think watermelon Jolly Ranchers. With time, it’s more organic: ripe wild strawberries.

The palate has lime, molasses, and brown sugar, though it’s much drier than most super-premium rums–a good thing for whiskey drinkers. The finish adds notes of gingerbread, Angostura bitters, and allspice. Bewitching.

This has become my go-to end-of-night dram. Well done again, Joe! – BO

Barrell Craft Spirits graciously provided a sample for review. As always, our opinions are 100% our own.

Buy Barrell Craft Spirits online at Mash + Grape

Michter’s US#1 Straight Rye Review

Producer: Michter’s/Chatham Imports. Distiller: undisclosed Kentucky distiller. ABV: 42.4%. Age: 3 years. Mashbill: undisclosed. Price: $40.

There are some days when I’m really in the mood to just drink rye whiskey. Sometimes I’ll go the cocktail approach, but most of the time I prefer it neat.

I’ve been revisiting all of Michter’s standard releases, and their US#1 Straight Rye whiskey has joined my short list of go-to ryes. Michter’s bottles a straight rye that’s 3 years old and from an undisclosed Kentucky distillery. By law it has to be from a mashbill of at least 51% rye, but Michter’s doesn’t disclose anything further on the recipe.

On to the juice. On the nose are notes of light spicy rye, caramel covered apples, and freshly cut wood. Sweet rye dominates the palate, which has brown sugar, cinnamon, and slight chocolate notes. Vanilla and spice combine in its lovely finish.

On those days that call for an all-around good rye, I’m glad this is one of the ones on my shelf. What are some of your daily drinking ryes? – JTR

Medley’s Private Stock 10-Year-Old Bourbon Review

Producer: Charles Medley. Distiller: undisclosed Kentucky distillery. ABV: 45%. Mashbill: 77% corn, 10% rye, 13% malted barley. Price: $60-75.

Every once in a great while, I get utterly surprised by a whiskey. Often it’s not a good surprise, like when the bourbon that purports to have subtle brown sugar tastes like burnt molasses. But on occasion, I find one I’ve never tried and am utterly blown away by it.

Such was the case with the Medley’s Private Stock. This 10-year-old whiskey purports to be inspired by the Medley family’s 1870s recipe. While this sounds like pure marketing, the Medley family has a genuine bourbon-making heritage they can trace back to the 18th century. And no less important, what’s in the bottle is damn near superior.

The Private Stock is contract-distilled for the Medleys by an undisclosed Kentucky distiller (rumored to be Heaven Hill). They’ve previously released a 12-year-old called Old Medley, and their 4-year-old Medley Brothers bottling is both easier to find than the Private Reserve, and a good deal cheaper, at $25-30. But if price isn’t an object, the Private Reserve is worth seeking out.

There’s light vanilla, caramel, spice, and oak on the nose, and all of those are joined by a really delightful hazelnut splash on the palate. The finish is of medium length and takes you from robust to warming during the journey.

I don’t know if I could justify the cost on a regular basis, but I sure did enjoy the taste. And with the holidays coming up quick, I know this one’s going to be on my list for sure.

Cheers, friends! -TM