Barrell Bourbon Batch 032 Scoresheet & Review

There’s no doubt that Barrell Craft Spirits have a lot of pride and confidence in their brand. Scroll down their homepage and you’ll be greeted by an impressive list of recent mentions from media outlets. Since their stake to fame comes from blending whiskeys (sometimes finishing them in multiple casks) rather than distilling and aging, it makes sense that they’d push whatever praise comes their way. And while they’ve recently made waves with the Seagrass releases, their bourbon batches still generate plenty of acclaim. In fact, they’re kind of what made Barrell such a credible name in the first place.  

I previously looked at batches 025 and 026, both of which were strong, quality blends, but for vastly different reasons. Today I’ll be looking at the recently released batch 032, which Barrell were kind enough to send a sample for me to review. As with many Barrell blends, batch 032 is bottled at cask strength (115.34 in this case) and was distilled in Tennessee, Kentucky, and Indiana, with the age range for this release being 5-10 years.

Nose: Light brown sugar with some vanilla cream and hints of root beer. Somewhat floral with slightly dry oak aroma (rickhouse-like). Hint of peanut dust with caramel. Maybe a little tobacco and orange peel. The Dickel component becomes more obvious after sipping, but in a good way. Comes across a touch young, but the balanced oak profile proves to be a nice complement.

Palate: More light brown sugar, this time immediately joined by a bright oak essence bringing cinnamon and white pepper notes. Medium mouthfeel overall; a touch light flavor-wise. Oak spice, burnt toast, and caramel followed by a vanilla note that gradually becomes creamier to set stage for the finish. Also get a split-second red grape flavor.

Finish: Vanillins with a little orange peel followed by a discrete, lingering (and slightly tannic) spice. Respectable length. Hints of nutmeg and clove. Caramel and honey at the very end give this whiskey a pleasant conclusion. It’s also here that the viscosity becomes most apparent.

Similar to how the aforementioned batches tasted distinct from one another, Barrell Batch 032 also feels like a different beast. Batch 025 came across as rye-forward with its strong citrus notes and Batch 026 had a sweet richness only slightly thrown off by the apparent Dickel influence. By comparison, Batch 032 feels lighter, younger, and woodsier. The Tennessee whiskey component is almost certainly leading the charge here, since the dominant characteristics are consistent with the Dickel products I’ve tried. That said, it doesn’t give me that ubiquitous minerality many folks bemoan in said distillery. Instead I get the light, slightly dry wood flavors which are complemented by the light brown sugar notes and topped off with a healthy dose of spice and proof.

What this ultimately translates to is another solid batch of Barrell bourbon, once again demonstrating their blending prowess. I will say that I probably prefer the previous batches I tried, primarily because I had to work more to pick up on the flavors here. There’s noticeably less depth than Batch 026 and the generally spicy personality would give Batch 025 a run for its money. The overall flavor profile feels a bit like Dickel meets Jim Beam at cask strength.  Once I got over the initial surprise of how (once again) this batch was distinct, the experience became more enjoyable. But like Maker’s Mark FAE-01, this strikes me as a pour best suited during the holidays when the weather is chilly and you’re feeling seasonal. Coming back to the nose only got more enjoyable and while the palate can’t keep up, the finish does well to close that gap. All in all, this is probably a try before buy bottle unless you really enjoy the aforementioned flavor profile.

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