Nashville Barrel Company 8-Year Rye (Inlet Harbour Pick) Scoresheet & Review

Chances are good that you’ve at least heard of Nashville Barrel Company. Although new brands are essentially old news these days, Nashville Barrel Company is quite young for the presence and reputation they’ve garnered. Founded in 2018 by Mike Hinds and James Davenport, they sought to create a brand rooted in their past-time love of traveling and picking barrels with friends. They’re clearly enthusiastic, right down to claiming they “turn down 90% of the barrels” they’re offered. If that number is to be believed, then they’re acting as a hell of a filter between distilleries and the people ultimately selecting a barrel for purchase.

That branding all but tracks with their aggressive pricing. Although bourbon was first on Nashville Barrel Company’s list of whiskeys to obtain, their first releases to hit the market were rye whiskeys. These included an initial small batch and slew of barrel picks sourced from Ross & Squibb (then MGP). Among these were a pair of 8-year picks for a local-ish store to me, Inlet Harbour. These ran $100 each, and I’ll be reviewing the one I preferred in-store, which I ultimately purchased.

Nose: Surprisingly soft on first whiff. Oozy caramel, blackberry jam, and orange citrus. Tactful balance of molasses and demerara syrup pervades, but in a way that’s tactful. Dark honey, syrupy melon, and toffee glaze with hints of brown butter.

Palate: Sweet upfront with barrel-laden notes to include caramel and vanilla across a moderately viscous vessel. This slowly gives way to more rye-like qualities, including honeydew from the nose matched with red grape and hints of lavender and pesto before a red pepper spice takes hold on subsequent sips.

Finish: Leads with dark brown sugar notes. As the palate’s mild spice settles and enters a slightly drying territory, hints of wormwood creep in while sticky toffee and black currant take center stage. These richer notes prove to be a nice contrast to the mild, drying sensation that sticks around.

Cask strength rye whiskeys treading double-digit age statements aren’t unheard of, but they’re still something of an anomaly in the American whiskey market. Kentucky Owl’s rye batches are among the few that come to mind, and they fetch over $200 in the markets they’re still found. Between that and how much hotter the pricing on Nashville Barrel Company releases and older, cask strength 95/5 MGP rye can get, $100 for this doesn’t sound atrocious. Of course, that’s only part of the equation.

This particular pick is a sneaky one. When I think of 95/5 rye, certain expectations come to mind. Understated isn’t among them. Yet this pick, perhaps thanks to its age, doesn’t deliver a profile that would seem becoming of high-rye rye whiskey (loud, spicy, or even prickly). Instead, fruity syrup and molasses notes form the core of the experience while herbal hints play the role of subtle accents in an otherwise colorful presentation. Where I once found myself somewhat disinterested, I’ve now grown to find the pick fun and oddly exciting. It strikes an elegant balance between easygoing and rich. I seldom get this type of experience because each quality often carries a potentially negative association; easygoing can often be conflated with boring while rich might be synonymously used with overbearing.

I’m happy to report that neither are the case here. Almost every facet of this whiskey feels balanced in a way that can satisfy the right rye drinker. Is it exciting? Not ostensibly, but that’s part of the fun. The usual associations with rye whiskey aren’t necessarily absent from this pick, since a layer of spice presents and builds over time. All the same, those characteristics aren’t the stars of the show. Whether that’s a positive or a negative may vary from person to person, but for me, it’s a welcome change of pace that helps open my mind to what rye whiskey can be when executed with tact.


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