By Richard Thomas
When Craft Barrell Spirits (aka Barrell Bourbon) released their inaugural batch of rye whiskey several months ago, it was a noteworthy groundbreaking for one of America’s most popular independent bottlers. Little did we realize at the time that the company had something even more noteworthy waiting around the corner.
I say noteworthy because it’s novelty lies in its sourcing in place of being first in a series. Whereas Rye Batch 001 came from Tennessee and Indiana, standard sources for Craft Barrell Spirits’ releases, this stuff draws on a more exotic stock. Some of the whiskey is from Indiana, but some of it is from Poland.
The Polish whiskey is 100% malted rye, a concept we started seeing in the U.S. with releases from Old Pogue and its Old Maysville Club (and before that, the underaged Five Fathers version). These two diverse, 5 year old-plus whiskeys were blended to create a cask strength, 58.75% (117.5 proof) rye.
Batch 002 has the expected orange-amber, thoroughly copper look in the glass, while the swish-and-coat left a curtain of small, slender and sometimes forking legs on the side of the glass. The nose to me smacked of peppermint, licorice and cardamon, accented by a trail-mix like note, comprised of a handful of toasted mixed nuts and some dried, dark fruits.
The flavor shifts on the spicy aspect, going for a generous sprinkling of cinnamon and nutmeg, while the minty tinge turns dry. Orange zest and caramel bring the spiciness into a fine balance. On the finish, an oaky tinge fades away fast to leave behind lingering dry, peppery spiciness.
Although big and ballsy rather than hot, I found Batch 002 to be perhaps a bit too big and overpowering as is. So, I put a splash of water in, and this made the whiskey a little less syrupy sweet. So, I recommend a little water or a little ice to bring out the very best in this one.
Official retail price for this release is $79.99.