There are many players in the bourbon game, those who distill and bottle their own, others who source their whiskey and label it as their own, and those who have a label based on stock sourced from various places and released as different products each time.
You can think of the first as an artist selling their own work, the second as a gallery that sells the same artist to the public, and the third as a curator that brings in different art each time for the customer. Barrell is the whiskey version of a curator. With each release it sources new whiskeys that meet its owners expectations and then blend it.
Across the board, Barrell is getting significant recognition and hype based on the quality of the releases and attention to age statements; plus each Barrell release gets a number. The brand also has a rum series in addition to bourbon. Barrell Batch 009 is the brand’s oldest release to date, at 13 years, and is reviewed here. It was distilled in Tennessee, and then aged in Tennessee and Kentucky.
Tasting Notes: Barrell Bourbon Batch 009
Vital Stats: 112.1 proof, aged 13 years, 74% corn, 18% rye, 7% malted barley, $80 for 750ml.
Appearance: This pours dark amber, moving into mahogany with brown highlights. Dazzling. Legs are medium thick and fast.
Nose: The nose is rich and deep with classic bourbon oak, caramel, and vanilla notes, with walnut, baking spices, and tablet candy providing a unique character. The heat is present, and is warming and inviting.
Palate: On first sip, it’s clear how smooth and rounded this is after 13 years; it’s very enjoyable. There’s lots of depth and medium-sweetness born of brown sugar and dark caramel. A range of woods emerge to form the main flavor profile. Heat is noticeable, but well integrated.
Finish: The finish continues with the complexity of this bourbon. It is both drying and warming, while also providing a sustained sweetness, and a distinct walnut flavor.
A splash of water opens up the nose a bit, and brings French toast to mind. The palate becomes even smoother, but some of the depth is lost. It is slightly less woody and more dessert-like. The finish is shorter and less drying, and a nice hint of pear emerges.
Final Thoughts and Score:
This is the fourth Barrell release I’ve had, and all of them have been very good. For my palate, this is the best so far. Deep and rich classic bourbon profile (oak, vanilla, caramel) with unique tones around each corner (candy, walnuts), and cask strength. The mouthfeel and depth of flavor are dialed in, and it would be very easy to drink this down very quickly.
I recommend it neat or with only one or two drops of water. It’s well worth a spot in your collection.
Editor’s Note: A sample of this whiskey was provided to us by those behind it. The Whiskey Wash, while appreciative of this, kept full independent editorial control over this article.