Review: Barrell Bourbon Infinite Barrel Project (Various 2020 Bottlings)
Anyone passing even the quickest of glimpses over the latest lifestyle listicle or award competition winners would be aware Barrell has the hot hand coming out of Kentucky at the moment. With a prolific series of unique blends alongside their high-quality eponymous offering, they’ve offered something for nearly every taste and preference on the spectrum. One aspect of their portfolio overshadowed by this wave of releases is its Infinite Barrel Project, a reverential nod to the activity enjoyed by some whisky hobbyists.
Drew presented an excellent orientation into the project’s origins two years ago, reviewing the fifth iteration in the series to high acclaim. Almost three years and 11 releases later, let’s see how things have progressed by looking at a quartet of releases in the series.
All elements sourced for the project are from publicly undisclosed distilleries and are without age statements — although guessing the Indiana contributions are from MGP, Tennessee contributions from Dickel, and the Western Highlands Scotch from Loch Lomond would serve as solid predictions.
Barrell Infinite Barrel Project Release #6 – Bottled June 2018 with previous additions and the inclusion of Polish rye, Indiana whiskey, Western Highlands Scotch whisky, Tennessee whiskey and Irish whiskey. Surprisingly approachable given the daunting combination of blends listed above, and newcomers shouldn’t be intimidated. There’s lots of flavor and depth to enjoy, with vanilla sweetness, mint, and orange zest melding together en route to a mildly spiced and lengthy finish. 118.6 proof. B+ [BUY IT NOW FROM CASKERS]
Barrell Infinite Barrel Project Release #14 – Bottled February 2020 with the previous additions and the inclusion of Polish rye, Polish rye finished in Curacao casks, Indiana whiskey, Indiana malt whiskey and Scotch whisky finished in bourbon casks. Eight stops from my original entry, and the mystery of what was missed between releases 6 and 14 — or even between 1 and 6 for that matter — is intriguing. Release #14 tastes and feels like a totally different bottle, a sign of the evolution and experimentation doing its intended job. Lots of banana and crème brulèe on the nose and a hearty blend of oak, caramel and baking spice on the palate, plus a finish that’s balanced and most agreeable. A pleasantly surprising and welcome evolution. 119.3 proof. A- [BUY IT NOW FROM CASKERS]
Barrell Infinite Barrel Project Release #15 – Bottled August 2020 with previous additions from the series and the inclusion of more Polish rye, Indiana whiskey, Canadian rye whiskey, Scotch whiskey and Tennessee whiskey. The Canadian rye adds a significant punch to the blend, evident from the strong mint and wood character on the nose. Big doses of cayenne pepper and oak on the finish make this quite the assertive dram to handle. It’s enjoyable, but expect less of a waltz and more of a hockey brawl. 123.8 proof. B+ [BUY IT NOW FROM CASKERS]
Barrell Infinite Barrel Project Release #16 – Bottled October 2020 with previous additions from the series and the inclusion of Indiana whiskey, Tennessee Bourbon whiskey, Scotch whisky and Irish whiskey. The most recent of the series as of this writing, almost three years into the project. The mint elements from the previous release remain present on the nose but are faint by comparison. Quite a heavy burst of menthol and medicinal notes on the palate carry through to a shorter finish. It’s surprisingly approachable, which masks the higher proof. It’s not the most complex, but well might be my favorite of the bunch. 125.4 proof. A- [BUY IT NOW FROM CASKERS]
This experiment certainly isn’t for everyone, especially die-hard purists who may scoff at the notion of fusing such disparate elements and slapping upon it a mid-to-upper tier price tag. Audiences with an open-minded approach to having their sensibilities challenged, or those interested in a front-row seat to witnessing a master blender’s deft skills in action, would be hard-pressed to find a more intriguing series on the market.
each $70 / barrelbourbon.com