By Richard Thomas
Barrell Bourbon had already released a handful of their signature cask strength bourbons when they released their first “American Whiskey.” Writing up Barrell Whiskey Batch 001 had been on my to-do list for a while, so much so that I actually got to the Sherry cask-finished Batch 002 before writing up the original. The result was an interesting little exercise in regression, since I was looking at a younger (7 years old instead of 9) and unfinished version of this whiskey which was made by MGP and aged in used barrels in Kentucky.
Bottled at a cask strength of 122.5 proof (61.25% ABV), Barrell Whiskey Batch 001 has the coloring of golden straw, and coats the glass thinly, with small, runny legs.
The nose is a little hot, surprisingly little for a whiskey that is above 60% ABV. The nose is clear, fresh, light, and quite cereal oriented, not too far off from being at a bakery in the wee hours of the morning, when the baker is actually doing the bulk of his baking for the day. Hot from the oven barley bread and vanilla are in the main, with a little crusty toastedness from the bread pan.
The palate completely shifts gears, running deep into the sweet, fruity and syrupy. Imagine an apple crumble made with big dollops of maple syrup and vanilla extract, and you’ve got the idea. All that syrupy sweetness, belies an otherwise light, crisp mouthfeel, which is not hot at all until it reaches the back of the mouth and the swallow is coming on.
At that point you get a nice little bite, and potent warmth going down in a finish that is all toast and butterscotch.
Overall, I don’t like Batch 001 as much as the Sherry-finished 002, but it still has its merits. Better still, despite reviewing it late, at the time of publication Batch 001 is still out there. I’ve seen a few bottles here and there.
$60 per 750 ml bottle.