Every now and then we all stumble upon something that makes us go “what the hell happened here?” This occurred with me just the other night while looking through my growing collection of samples, deciding which one I’d sit down and analyze. Goodwood Stout Barrel Finish bourbon ended up piquing my curiosity, since it combines my favorite whiskey and beer categories. Goodwood are a new name to me, so prior to investigating, I figured they were a craft distiller with a young whiskey finished in beer barrels to round out the rough edges. How erroneous.
Long story short, Goodwood is a brewery that sources from Barton 1792 for their whiskey. This particular expression is comprised of 12-year bourbon finished for three months in stout barrels. That sounds enticing on its own, but the marketing folks at Goodwood made the mistake of breaking a gag order from Sazerac (Barton’s parent company) by claiming the distillate was from the Barton distillery collapse in 2018. This landed Goodwood into some hot water, which included a cease-and-desist letter from Sazerac. Whether it was an honest mistake or a desperate marketing attempt, I’m here to see what their final product has to offer.
Nose: Big, juicy red fruit—cherry with red or concord grapes and orange. Custard-like with vanilla, banana, and caramel. Buttery brown sugar. Get more chocolate after sipping while the fruits, though still dominant, are reined in a bit. Nice balance of oak and an air of sweet tobacco.
Palate: On the dry side; moderately dense and slightly chewy mouthfeel. Caramel upfront followed by dried cherry on the mid-palate and some tannins on the back. Cocoa, tobacco, and light roast ground coffee match the oak profile. Surprisingly full and warming for a 90-proofer (age definitely does some heavy lifting here).
Finish: Just a touch anticlimactic. Cocoa and brown sugar hang on for a bit, along with hints of dried fruit. Impressions of coffee build back up with subsequent sips. Bit of that Barton banana-caramel custard peeks out here and there.
If first impressions were everything, I’d call myself a believer. The nose on this is absolutely wonderful, taking the fruity aspects I enjoy in well-aged Barton with an extra push in richness. Curiously, it isn’t until after I sip that my nose is able to pick up on the stout influence. The palate and finish are a slightly different story. Sipping brings an initial burst of that tried-and-true Barton bourbon essence, but it quickly makes way for the stout notes to build upon. That juicy fruit on the nose suddenly feels and tastes more dried out, reinforced by cocoa, tobacco, and coffee notes. Despite this shift, I’m still very much of a fan of what I’m drinking.
What I’m less a fan of is the asking price. The person who sent me a sample of this claims to have gotten it on clearance for $30, but confirmed that the original price was around what I found it for online: $150. Triple-digit price tags seem to be becoming more and more commonplace as whiskey (American whiskey, in particular) continues to reach new heights in demand. Between that and the fact Calumet 12 and 14-Year can both fetch $100+ per bottle (depending on the market) makes the surcharge for a less common finish almost add up. “Almost” is the operative word here, however. The stout finish probably won’t be to everyone’s liking, and paying such a large sum of money for a 90-proof spirit from a common source feels like a bit of a stretch in the first place. At $150, this is too tough a sell for me to recommend. That said, if I found this collecting dust for $30, I’d immediately ask how many bottles the store has left.