Whiskey Reviews: Barrel Bomb Kentucky Bourbon, Barrel Bomb Small Batch Bourbon

, | December 5, 2021

Editor’s Note: These whiskeys were provided to us as review samples by Barrel Bomb. This in no way, per our editorial policies, influenced the final outcome of this review. It should also be noted that by clicking the buy link towards the bottom of this review our site receives a small referral payment which helps to support, but not influence, our editorial and other costs.

We are all used to drinking whiskey that has travelled a long way to our glass. Whether that be Scotch whisky in California or Japanese whisky in New York, whiskey sees some places before ending up in a glass. Barrel Bomb sees quite a bit of movement as well, but not for the reasons one would expect. The world of whiskey has become an intricate web of supply chains for the purposes of production. And Barrel Bomb has a fascinating one.

I am looking at two different labels of Barrel Bomb, their Small Batch Bourbon and their bourbon finished in red wine barrels. What might surprise you is these labels are not actually coming from the same company. The Small Batch Bourbon is being released by Tri Vin Imports, who has partnered with Precision Wine. The other bottle is being released by Precision Wine. And both bottles have completely different supply chains and nothing but a name in common.

Precision Wine is a company in Napa Valley, California. They take their wine barrels, age some bourbon in them, then fill them back up with wine and release both bourbon finished in wine barrels and a wine finished in bourbon barrels. But, they aren’t a distiller. After talking with someone at Precision, they let me know the red wine barrel finished bourbon starts with distilling at Green River Distilling Co. in Owensboro, Kentucky. Once aged for three years in white oak it is sent to Napa, California, and aged six months in Precision Wine’s Cabernet Sauvignon barrels. They told me they add new French oak to smooth out the finish, so I interpret that as a wood chip addition as opposed to another barrel. It is then sent to Ringgold Distillers, LLC, operated out of Loch and Union Distilling in American Canyon, California, where it is bottled. It is then distributed by Tri-Vin in New York. They do maintain a minimum three years of age and a mash bill of 75% corn, 21% rye, and 4% barley batch to batch.

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The Small Batch takes a whole different route. It starts with a sourced whiskey from MGP in Lawrenceburg, Indiana. Depending on the batch this is two or three years old. It gets sent to Cooperstown Distillery in Cooperstown, New York. Cooperstown blends the product from MGP with some of their own distillate. They then bottle it and ships it off to Tri-Vin Imports for all marketing and sales of the final product. Cooperstown Distillery does not claim this as one of their products, but their other products are also sold by Tri-Vin. This small batch gets different mash bills and different age statements. So if you do decide you enjoy it, don’t be surprised when the next bottle you grab tastes a little different than you remember.

It’s fascinating to me that two different companies would choose to make an agreement to use the same name for products that are so vastly different in both label and production process. While I see the benefit to Tri-Vin and their small batch, I don’t get what is in all of this for Precision Wines. Precision Wines seems to be producing something for their niche and have designed a nice label and brand to go with it. Tri-Vin seems to have hopped on the bandwagon in an attempt to up-sell some product and utilize the branding Precision Wines is working with. Both products appear to only be distributed by Tri-Vin and have limited availability in Ney York, New Jersey, and Connecticut. 

Barrel Bomb review

Barrel Bomb Kentucky Bourbon and Small Batch Bourbon (image via Ian Arnold)

Tasting Notes: Barrel Bomb Kentucky Bourbon Whiskey

Vital Stats: 43.3% ABV, mash bill of 75% corn, 21% rye, and 4% barley, aged in white oak and Cabernet Sauvignon barrels. Distilled by Green River Distilling Co. $40 per bottle.

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Appearance: Clear amber liquid with a hint of copper to it. Legs are thick and quick to form.

Nose: I find the nose interesting with a lot going on. I get hints of chocolate, red fruit, and baking spice all backed up with a twinge of ethanol. It almost reminds me of a stout or a porter.

Palate: The palate is light and hot. I get a beer-like malt and a bit of white pepper up front. There’s a touch of chocolate and caramel sweetness in there., and a hit of tannin on the mid palate as well. That’s followed by a light long  finish that has a hint of sweetness and a very mild burn. The addition of water makes the sweetness in this come forward even more, but it stays just as light. I get more malt, caramel, and vanilla with a little less of the pepper note. The finish becomes just a hint of vanilla lingering at the back of the mouth.

Score: 3/5

Tasting Notes: Barrel Bomb Small Batch Bourbon Whiskey

Vital Stats: 45% ABV, distilled by MGP and Cooperstown Distillery, priced at $26 – $30 a bottle.

Appearance: A clear dull yellow that forms thick fat tears that fall at a medium speed.

Nose: I get strong notes of oak and acetone. The oak presents like freshly cut wood and foliage with the scent of caramel and vanilla backing it up. 

Palate: The palate really lives up to its name. It tastes like I have just put fresh oak wood shavings into my mouth.  This isn’t unpleasant, but it is pretty one note. The finish continues the heavy oak but has a subtle vanilla and black pepper to complement it. Overall it is light and smooth. The addition of water doesn’t change a whole lot. It shifts the palate to have slightly more caramel and vanilla, but they are still just complements to the fresh oak flavor.

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Score: 1.5/5

Final Thoughts

These whiskeys are as different in flavor as they are in how they are produced. The small batch is a light oak bomb that isn’t unpleasant, but also isn’t something I want to be drinking. The wine barrel finish is a sweeter style bourbon that made for a perfectly fine sipper that I may just throw into a Hot Toddy in the next couple of days.

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