Sweet and toasty aromas, like a coconut macaroon, are balanced with bright green apple in this showstopper of a bourbon. Secondary notes include alluring five-spice, cigar box, and dark cherry fruit. The flavors really fulfill expectations, as toasty notes of brown butter meet delicate spice, candied peanuts, and grilled peaches. But wait for the finish! A cascade of gingery and peppery spices, grilled peaches, and pecan descend in perfect harmony. A multifaceted bourbon that is as intriguing as it is delicious. Editors' Choice
Barrell 25 year old Cask Strength American Whiskey, 55.6%
American Whiskey | $250
Some whiskeys have already peaked at a quarter-century, but this one, distilled in Indiana and finished in sercial madeira casks, is at its apex. Caramel-covered peanuts, candied orange, fresh-baked bread, Toblerone, cinnamon ginger snaps, blueberry cobbler, black tea, and plenty of oak on the nose. The palate is supple and elegant, with peanut brittle, cherry cordial, milk chocolate, blueberry, horehound candy, cola, white pepper, ginger, roasted pecans, and refined oak. Leave plenty of time to enjoy the finish, with its subtle white pepper and dark fruit undertones.
7 year old whiskey (an unspecified “corn, rye, and malted barley” mashbill “distilled in Indiana”) aged in used barrels. Maple syrup, well-browned popovers, and Canada mint lozenges in a boozy-hot nose. Richly sweet on the palate: pastry dough, hints of anise, buttery and slightly-burnt cornbread, syrupy dark fruits: complex, rich, delicious. Water brings out more of the dough and tames the heat. Delicious, unique, intriguing. Sourced whiskey.
Barrell 10 year old Cask Strength Blend of Straight Bourbons (Batch #020), 53.35%
Bourbon/Tennessee | $90
Strikingly mature and rich, yet also lively and vibrant, this whiskey tempts with a host of vanilla treats, including Nilla wafers, milkshake, and butter pecan ice cream. Lurking just beneath are deeper nutty flavors, saddle leather, crushed blueberry, and warm apple butter. The palate shows a lot of gusto and while it certainly doesn’t need water, a splash rewards by unleashing the ample oak, coupled with heaps of Peanut Chews, dried apple, and more leather on the beautifully balanced finish.
A complex nose that starts out herbaceous and then opens to notes of saddle leather, buttered popcorn, pecans, dark cherry, orange tea, and fragrant vanilla. A rich, chewy palate offers vanilla cream pie, lemon, blackberries, corn muffin, and chocolate-covered coconut, balanced against some drying oak, an herbal note, and dried leaves. The finish is a long, balanced ride of chocolate, cinnamon, and tobacco leaf. A rich, classic bourbon.
A blend of 9 to 14 year old bourbons from Tennessee and Kentucky. A generous and perfumy nose of dusty spice, peanut brittle, cherry candy, orange, cola, molasses, and roasted grain. Full and rich in the mouth, with fruit leather, blueberry-pomegranate juice, orange oil, ginger, pepper, dark chocolate, cola, molasses, and coconut. The finish is lengthy and superb: horehound candy, white pepper, dark chocolate-covered blueberries, and silky yet racy oak.
At 6 years old it’s hard to believe this could get any better with more time in the barrel. It begins with an explosion of honey, warm graham crackers, cinnamon, nutmeg, and marzipan. Then it’s saddle leather, pumice, caramel-covered popcorn, and jalapeño-and-peach jam spread over a flat tamale. More baking spices develop as the whiskey finishes long with a lovely salted-caramel note.
There’s personality galore in this blend of 10 year old Indiana whiskey finished in cabernet sauvignon casks and 11 year old Tennessee bourbon finished in rum casks and port pipes. Caramel, honeycomb candy, See’s molasses chips, peanuts, graham crackers, cola, mature oak, and a little dill on the nose. The palate is chewy, with dried cherries, grape soda, root beer candy, roasted walnuts, dark chocolate, black pepper, ginger, graham cracker, cinnamon cookie, and lush leathery oak. Good development, if you have the patience to linger.
It opens with a crust of salt and Flintstones vitamins in honey, almond paste, and caramel. Then pumice, pear, canned peaches, and baked apples jump into the mix, followed by Nutella, Cheerios, candied pecans, and chocolate. As the medium to long finish sets in, slight hints of smoke appear and suggest it would pair great with a bold cigar. A drop of water only makes it better.
With smoke and oak, this starts off so intense with pepper spices, peat, dried apricot, hard candies, caramel-covered apples, salted butter, pecan shell, and strawberry jam. Leather, tobacco, and baking spices begin the descent toward a medium, slightly bitter finish. If you like trying new things, this is an American cadre of flavors unlike anything out there. (Bottled on February 12, 2018)
Barrell 11 year old American Whiskey (Batch #004), 60.3%
Miscellaneous | $65
A blend of whiskeys finished in rum and rye barrels, it’s molasses-forward with quick introductions of clove, vanilla, flowers, and strawberry. Green apple and ginger cookies appear before a burst of caramel chew, herbs, and chewing tobacco. At times fascinating for its rye, bourbon, and rum qualities, albeit a little hot, it’s a must-pour for a spirits lover.
Think of an Almond Joy candy bar: coconut, almond, and milk chocolate, followed by the candy bar’s rival flavors: caramel, vanilla, and butterscotch. Then oak, leather, cigar box, marmalade, grape jelly, a plethora of baking spices, and toffee. This beautiful study of barrel strength bourbon needs no water. Caramel in all forms, from candied to syrup, follows this home for a long and delightful finish.
A selection of bourbons distilled and aged in Tennessee, Indiana, and Kentucky. Drying autumn leaves on the nose, along with leather, tobacco leaf, ginger snaps, cherries, nutmeg, black tea, vanilla, toasted coconut, and light orange. The mouthfeel is rich, and leads with coconut and unsalted butter, then cinnamon, cloves, red apple, oak, and more orange. Minerality, peppery heat, and tobacco on the finish, as well as dark chocolate and cherry.
A blend of straight bourbons at least 15 years old. A fragrant, complex nose of oak, baking spice, cherry pie, cooked pears, and bitter lemon, with underlying notes of cigar box and dunnage house floor. The palate is creamy and sweet, offering caramel, chocolate frosting, coconut shavings, a fruity note of sweet raspberry, and chili pepper. A finish of tobacco leaf, dark chocolate, and more spiciness as a final note.
A composite of Tennessee and Kentucky whiskeys, finished in sherry butts and port pipes. It’s sherry-forward, but rich and layered in roasted nuts, caramel, dried caramel, vanilla cake batter, chocolate, chamomile, and roasted apple. Marzipan and honey flash with hints of hazelnut, pear, and molasses cookie over a slightly chewy mouthfeel. The medium to long finish gives a slight hint of citrus.
Quince, coconut, raspberry, and chocolate walk into an array of breads—sourdough, cornbread, Lebanese pita, and pumpernickel rye. Soon a sweetness develops over earthiness. Think hazelnut latte paired with rich lentil soup, followed by jalapeño cornbread and honey. Its strength never shows, but that promise in the taste is not followed in the finish, which is shorter than expected. If the finish held up, it would be a much stronger whiskey.
A blend of 9 year and 9 month, 11, and 15 year old barrels from Tennessee, Indiana, and Kentucky. The combination creates complexity and balance, starting with an aromatic nose of toasty oak, cherry, cinnamon, nutmeg, dried orange, leather, and cigar ash. The palate follows with notes of semi-sweet chocolate, espresso, peach cobbler, and a hint of coconut. It concludes with a finish of more chocolate and subtle notes of fruit.
Barrell Cask Strength American Vatted Malt (Batch #1), 58.75%
Blended American Whiskey | $90
This is a blend of single malt whiskeys from a number of U.S. distilleries, and malt indeed shines throughout. On the nose, there’s cooked apple and pear, with nutmeg, chamomile, milk chocolate, and salt water taffy, followed by a biscuity sweet palate packed with floral and stone fruit notes, milk chocolate, toasted almonds, cinnamon, and salinity. The dry, round finish has vanilla biscotti, gentle oak, warm almonds, and tobacco leaf.
There’s a lot going on here: rich caramel, soft vanilla, gingerbread cookies straight from the oven, cinnamon, marzipan, honey, and peach. Then it’s a dance of the caramel/vanilla-combo richness with brown sugar, butter, and toffee. The thing is, you need to appreciate barrel strength whiskey to capture its essence, as the beasty alcohol overpowers. Even barrel strength lovers will find a splash of water opens it up, giving more caramel, walnut, and whoopie pie. Long caramel finish.
“Tennessee bourbon” at 8 years, 3 months, and barrel proof. This and Batch 006 are the same whiskey, the same age, from different warehouse floors. Smooth sweet nose of oak and hot corn. Quite spicy on the tongue, hard-dancing oak vaults high in the mouth over a strong, sweet body. Solid oaky finish. Honest and foursquare as a Tennessee farmer; no surprises, but no disappointments either. Sourced whiskey.
Barrell 5 year old Cask Strength Bourbon (Batch #007), 61.2%
Bourbon/Tennessee | $85
5 years is when bourbon really starts developing complexity, and you find the beginnings of greatness here, with saltwater taffy, vanilla custard, citrus, corn pudding, and a healthy dose of cinnamon. Its proof offers satisfying warmth that quickly turns to spice. Medium finish gracefully gives a hint of warm vanilla icing. In an age of barrel strength bourbons, this is a good one, but lacks complexity for higher praise. Sourced whiskey.
A nose like Big Red gum—juicy-sweet cinnamon—and some sweet dough, with sharp alcohol heat. Hot as expected on the tongue, but exciting: more cinnamon and sweetness—like snickerdoodles—with wet corn, a touch of bitter oil, and hot spearmint. Adding water eases the heat, and brings out the oak. Good stuff, if a bit simple. Sourced whiskey.
Less driving aroma than Batch 005; lower floor? Both are a mashbill of 70/26/4% corn/rye/malt. More corn and cinnamon and bread dough in the nose here. A lot like 005, but more sweet cornmeal, less spice, less height in the mouth, and the finish is sweeter and longer. Might be that farmer’s younger brother; this one’s only 8 years old. Still good, a bit less complex. Sourced whiskey.
Two things show almost immediately: alcohol level and sherry cask. Heat and salty nuttiness really express themselves early on, eventually followed by flavors of caramel chew, graham cracker, nutmeg, and cinnamon, with an unwanted bitterness. Walnut shell and smoked meat come along too, for a medium finish that tingles. With a drop of water, its bitterness turns to oak, making it the preferred way to sip its hefty proof. Sourced whiskey.
Oak comes out strong and dominates. Its astringency appears to mask everything else for a moment, just before tobacco, dark chocolate, peanut butter, and sesame seeds set in. Unfortunately, these notes surface only briefly before the oak barrage reappears. It’s simply over-oaked.