Barrell Bourbon bottle with glencainrn glass

Time to ring in the New Year with a Barrell Bourbon limited edition. Before I moved to Maryland it was impossible for me to find Barrell Bourbon. Now, however, I can walk into the local and usually find a few different bottles on the shelf. So I wasn’t shocked when I found a bottle of the New Year blend awaiting me on New Years Eve.

What is the New Year blend? On their website they explain it thusly:

A selection of 2.5, 5, 7, 9, 10 and 14 year old Straight Bourbon Whiskey barrels

​Distilled in Indiana, Kentucky, New York, Tennessee and Texas

​Aged in Indiana, Kentucky, New York, Tennessee and Texas

Crafted and bottled in Kentucky​

111.2 proof cask strength bottling​

Aged in American white oak barrels

So basically it’s a bunch of different bourbons blended together. It’s an exercise in creating something fun and new. As always I am ready to try something fun and new.

Barrell Bourbon – New Year 2018

Bottle # 332; 55.6%

Color: Light caramel, honey

Nose: Vanilla, oak, dried raisins, pears, berries, and nuts

Taste: Leather, oak, berry, nuts smoke with a peppery flash in the middle.

FinishAt that proof I was expecting a serious pepper burn but it didn’t really materialize. What you get is an initial mix of earthy-fruity notes with a pepper flash that runs hot but quick and doesn’t last overly long. Afterwards there is a return to the earthier notes with a bit of smokiness and just the lightest touch of caramel and fruit.

After adding a few drops of water I notice that the pepper burn is lightened a bit as the earthier-frutier notes become a bit fuller and more complex.

Verdict: B

Enjoy this with or without water as it’s equally as good either way. I found this to be an interesting blend of earthy and fruity notes and some stuff I notes I couldn’t quite put my finger on. I am recovering from a cold so I blame it on that and skill. At the end of the day though it’s a great dram of bourbon.

Some folks may think this bottle is priced a too high, at $100, but that’s the market these days for limited edition bourbons. And as long as dummies like me keep buying them then they will keep selling them. However, I don’t think it is, and the price definitely isn’t egregious especially in this current market. Besides, if this is the price that we pay to keep distillers experimenting with bourbon and trying out fun and bold new concepts, then I’m game (you may disagree with this being fun or bold but hey it’s a free country and opinions vary). Although there is bound to be a stinker here and there, Old Forester 1870 I’m looking at you, there’s also going to be the expression that becomes one of your favorite bourbons–hello Old Forester 1920. At the end of the day it’s the journey that’s fun so enjoy and drink what makes you happy.