By Richard Thomas
As always, part of the fun with these Barrell Bourbon bottlings is looking at the stats and trying to connect the dots. Barrell Whiskey Batch 003, distinct from Barrell Bourbon in all probability because it was aged in ex-Bourbon barrels rather than new barrels, was made in Tennessee. Read into that what you will, but most people read “George Dickel.”
It was then aged in both Tennessee and Kentucky for five years. Some of the stock was finished in Sherry butts and some in Port pipes, and it was brought together in a 20-80 blend. Kept at cask strength, as all Barrell Bourbon releases are, it was bottled at 105.3 proof (52.65% ABV).
In the glass, this whiskey has the mid-amber look of well-polished copper, like something you might confidently hang on Gordon Ramsay’s pot rack. The swirl and coat reveals hefty legs.
The scent was thick with a scent that reminded me of walking into a cinema in Portugal when they were popping both types of corn: doce e com sal… or, in English, fresh Cracker Jacks and traditional buttered and salted. Hovering behind this corn-driven, caramel and butter accented sweetness were notes of dry, hoary old wood, the kind of earthy fruitness you get from trying to scrape the last bit of flesh off a fruit pit, and peanut.
In fact, I found that mix of dryness, earthiness and nuttiness a bit overpowering on the backside, and that with this not being a particularly strong cask strength (just somewhat above Bottled in Bond level). Since that aspect of the whiskey was even moreso in the taste, I opted to add a little water and dial it back.
That done, the sweet fruit and thought the two meshed together all that well. I thought it strange enough to set Batch 003 aside for a few days, come back and taste again. The result was the same, so if it’s me (and sometimes it is the taster, not the subject) then it’s me indefinitely. Barrell Bourbon offerings score B+ with me with good consistentcy; this is the first B- I’ve ever given to them.
Officially, this should fetch $89.99, but I have seen online retailers offering it for as low as $60 and as high as $100.