Whiskey From Three States Blends Seamlessly In Barrell Bourbon's 5-Year-Old

Whiskey From Three States Blends Seamlessly In Barrell Bourbon's 5-Year-Old
Courtesy of Barrell Craft Spirits

This release emphasizes the power of blending with juices from Kentucky, Indiana, and Tennessee.

Several years ago, Barrell Craft Spirits released batches of blended straight bourbon (and a few ryes) that far outperformed many of their closest competitors. Barrell Craft Spirits has been demonstrating just how important the art of blending is in American whiskey for years now. Generally, Barrell Bourbon consists of blends from Kentucky, Tennessee, and Indiana, although Wyoming has also been included in the lineup. A five-year age statement appears on the label of Louisville's latest batch of bourbon, number 32. However, older whiskey is also included in the blend, so overall, this is a comprehensive and complex bourbon worth purchasing.

In most of Batch 32's sister whiskeys, bourbon is sourced from the three states mentioned above, such as MGP for Indiana, Dickel for Tennessee, and who knows where the Kentucky whiskey comes from. Barrell used two barrel sets in his formulation: five and six-year-old bourbons for their “creamy and tropical” flavors, and six, seven, and ten-year-old bourbons for their tannic, woody flavors. Three months after blending these two lots, a small parcel of barrels aged 7 years was added to complete the blend.

As is usual with Barrell, this barrel-aged bourbon is bottled at cask strength (115.34 proof). On the nose, cinnamon and brown sugar are prominent, along with burnt orange. There's some spice on the palate, but it's tempered by vanilla, caramel, plum, almond, and toast. There is no trace of the nutty graininess that characterizes some past releases, which I have always attributed to Tennessee bourbon's dominant role.

While that may still be the case, I am more inclined to view this release as Kentucky than Volunteer State. A little water would not be unwelcome here, but it is by no means necessary as there is a floral complexity to the whiskey.

In Barrell Bourbon's latest release, we see that older whiskey does not always mean better whiskey. In contrast to previous batches, which have included bourbon aged up to 16 or 17 years in the blend, this batch contains a smaller amount of the bourbon to avoid excessive oakiness. In spite of not actually naming the sources of Barrell Craft Spirits' whiskey, Barrell Craft Spirits strives for transparency, and those who might just glance at the label with the word “5 years” and move on are missing the big picture.

Barrell clearly knows how to preserve that intrinsic character while also including whiskeys of varying ages to create a unique flavor profile at that age, which is right at the sweet spot for aging bourbon.

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