2017 has been an exciting year for independent bottler Barrell Craft Spirits. In early February, they announced they were opening their very own distillery in Louisville, Kentucky. Production is expected to start at the end of the year, with the goal of laying down 1,000 barrels during its first year in operations. Barrell tapped Tripp Stimson, formerly of Brown Foreman and Kentucky Artisan Distillery, to serve as its new master distiller.
In the meantime, though, Barrell hasn’t given up on sourcing. In addition to their very first rum, they recently released their tenth bourbon, called, you guessed it, Barrell Bourbon 010.
This particular release comes with a relatively unusual pedigree. Distilled in Indiana, the juice was matured in Michigan, of all places, before being finished and bottled in Kentucky. Released with an eight-year age statement, it’s made from a mash of 75% corn, 21% rye, and 4% malted barley—incidentally, one of MGP’s bourbon mash bills.
MGP, of course, is the Indiana distillery that produces much of the nation’s bulk whiskey stocks, and I’ll venture a guess that it’s the source of this particular bourbon. How it ended up in barrels in Michigan, however, is a mystery (to me, at least).
Tasting Notes: Barrell Bourbon 010
Vital stats: 122 proof, eight years old. Distilled in Indiana. My bottle labeled #83.
Appearance: Warm copper
Nose: No real surprises here. It’s a nice, tight, integrated set of canonical bourbon aromas: cherry, vanilla, warm oak, sandalwood, crisp toffee, and soft baking spice, mostly nutmeg. The only unexpected note I notice is a bit of lemon zest, giving it a nice freshness. It’s less vaporous than the high proof might suggest.
Palate: Gentle at first, it ramps up to a nice rye spice crescendo accented by a pleasant metallic edge. Lovely flavors of vanilla honey, beeswax, and brown butter make a soft, custard pie-like impression. The finish introduces a hint of bitterness, just enough to give it an edge. The mouth feel is oily verging on fatty. Extremely satisfying, this is like dessert in a glass. Water brings out a bit of cocoa, but I prefer it undiluted.
Final Thoughts and Score:
Barrell Bourbon 010 is more balanced and less dynamic than some of Barrell’s other offerings. It’s unarguably good—albeit not exceptional in the true meaning of the word—but a treat nonetheless, and easy to recommend.
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.
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Margarett Waterbury is the author of Scotch: A Complete Introduction to Scotland's Whiskies and a full-time freelance writer and editor. Her work has appeared in Whisky Advocate, Food and Wine, Spirited Magazine, Artisan Spirit, Edible Seattle, Sip Northwest, Civil Eats, Travel Oregon, Artisan Spirit, and many other publications. She is...