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Review: Stellum Bourbon and Rye

It already seemed like Barrell was sitting on a large supply of whiskey, what with its rapid-fire bourbon releases and frequent special editions, but now comes an entirely new whiskey line from Barrell Craft Spirits, dubbed Stellum. What does Stellum mean? Apparently, it’s a derivative of the latin word for star. So, there’s that. The initial portfolio includes a bourbon, rye, and single barrels of each, all bottled at cask strength.

How does Stellum compare to Barrell’s other products? Well, the whiskeys are still made from sourced bourbon and rye from Kentucky, Indiana, and Tennessee, but they’re less complex blends according to the press release and reportedly include more Indiana-sourced juice. While some older stock is used, the core blend for the bourbon is 5 to 6 years old while the rye is 4 to 10 years. The biggest difference may be the price point which clocks in at nearly half of a typical Barrell batch release. We received a sample of both the bourbon and the rye for review. Let’s dig in!

Stellum Bourbon – The nose is exceptionally gentle for a cask strength whiskey, with a subtle aroma of brown butter and dark brown sugar. It’s not overly complex, but there’s a nice depth to it. On the palate, the cask strength is more apparent with a bit of red pepper heat that builds across the sip and lingers well into the finish. Notes of caramel sauce, apple slices, and subtler dark fruits make for an engaging palate, although that peppery heat does tend to get in the way a bit towards the end, drying things out prematurely. A few drops of water help to dull some of the chili pepper and broaden the aroma. 115 proof. B+ / $55 [BUY IT NOW FROM DRIZLY]

Stellum Rye – This is reportedly built around the 95/5 MGP mashbill with some Kentucky and Tennessee rye for accent. On the nose, there’s definitely that familiar sweet, dilly spice, but it’s not nearly as domineering as some MGP ryes I’ve encountered. The more vegetal notes are well-balanced against a sweet sawn wood element and some soft baking spice. It’s extremely approachable at cask strength with an easy, even heat and an oily palate showcasing a nice balance of black pepper, clove, and buttery cinnamon toast. The finish is a touch shorter than I’d prefer, but there’s still a lot to like about this one. Ideal for neat sipping or in an elevated cocktail. 116 proof. A- / $55 [BUY IT NOW FROM DRIZLY]


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Drew Beard

Drew Beard is Assistant Editor and Social Media Manager for Drinkhacker. He has studied and written about beer, whisk(e)y, and other spirits since he first started drinking them, earning several booze-related merit badges along the way, including Certified Specialist in Spirits and Executive Bourbon Steward. In addition to his work with Drinkhacker, Drew is also Spirits Editor for Santé Magazine. A recovering Federal government employee, he is happy to have finally found a career where it is acceptable to drink on the job.

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