By Debbie Shocair
It isn’t often that I’m asked by several people about a good whiskey before Ive had the opportunity to sample it, that being the reason my interest was doubly piqued when I received a bottle of Barrell Bourbon Batch 011. I had certainly heard good things about this cask strength bourbon (both the brand and this particular batch) knowing Batch 011 had won several top awards at the 2017 San Francisco World Spirits Competition, as well as receiving a 96 at the 2017 Ultimate Spirits Challenge.
Barrell Bourbon bottles all of their sourced products at cask strength, a point I respect, and Batch 011 was bottled at a whopping 114.8 proof. It’s made from a mash that is 70% corn, 25% rye and 5%malted barley, distilled and aged in Tennessee for 6 years. Founder Joe Beatrice notes, “We are very clear that we blend everything – we are as transparent about that as possible, and each batch is different. For this one we spent two years seeking barrels that were different – that were bright and regal somehow.”
On the nose, Barrell Bourbon, Batch 011 was rife with dark, sassy caramel, plus strong, clean vanilla, warm caramel corn and sweet cereal rounding out the aroma. Breaking it with ½ teaspoon of water brightened the cereal notes and uncovered some soft aromas of oak.
The mouth feel on this intrepid 114.8 proof beauty was mostly at the tip of the tongue, as a bit just inside the lips, which I found unusual.
The fairly long finish featured warm oak, dark toast (I really enjoy that in whiskey), ginger, cinnamon, and cloves, with a hint of dark poached plums near the end. The finish was different than the nose, in that it was not as sweet. As it finally disappeared if coated the tongue with what could only be remembered as a creamy sort of cinnamon chewing gum. Weird. Yet distinct.
This cask strength bourbon is a fine one and I recommend it as treat or for any shared experience. Limited release, around $87.