By Richard Thomas
Two weeks ago I finally had the pleasure of crossing paths with Joe Beatrice, founder of Barrell Bourbon. I genuinely mean “pleasure” there, since I got to sit for a spell with Beatrice and his team to talk shop and bemoan Donald Trump, sipping on cask strength bourbon all the while. The latter included what was in the Beatrice’s release pipeline, first and foremost his first followup bottling, Batch 007B.
“Batch 007 is gone!”, said Beatrice. Although not quite sold out yet (I was able to find a couple of bottles while poking around Lexington, and some online retailers have it in stock too), from Beatrice’s point of view as a producer the Batch was swept away by a surprising current of popularity. That prompted him to consider expanding on the Batch, since he still had related stock on hand. Tastings from those barrels yielded a substantially different flavor profile, however, so the result is a sibling release rather than a continuation: Batch 007B.
In sharing its origins with Batch 007, this bourbon too is a five year old, aged in new white oak barrels at Char #4, and distilled from a mash bill of 70% corn, 25% rye and 5% malted barley. This batch came out at a slightly lower cask strength, 120.2 proof (60.1% ABV) compared with 122.4 proof for the original Batch 007.
In the glass, the liquid has an attractive copper look, a bright, clear orange-amber appearance. The nose offers a balanced blend of fire-roasted ears of sweet corn and tangerine blossoms, with pinches of spearmint and eucalyptus. I can be that specific because the scent reminds me of nothing quite so much as a campout staged in my own backyard. If I started up a fire and roasted some corn, that would be it.
The bourbon has a silky texture on the palate. The taste is based on sweet citrus, seasoned with cookie spices, licorice and a hint of vanilla. A note of cedar reminds you the wood was there. Wholly absent is the toasty note from the nose. The finish unwinds off of orange and dry wood, and runs very warm.
Although I haven’t written up Batch 007 yet, I have tried it, and I can see why some bloggers have described it as spicy and a touch hot. Batch 007B is only a touch spicy, and not hot at all. Instead, it’s the kind of easy drinking, high proof bourbon I like to call a “sucker puncher.” A sip tells you it is a high proof whiskey, but not that it its a 120 proof, ultra high octane one. Drink a double on a bar stool and, having no idea what it was you actually drank, you might stumble when you get up.
The recommended retail price will be the same as its sister batch, $84.99. In terms of how that carries out in the shops, Barrell Bourbons at this price point have ranged from as low as $60 to just over $90.