Blind tasting whiskey is lots of fun… but it’s awfully hard to do alone. I mean, you bought the bottles, so you know what they are.
Blind Barrels solves that problem with what it calls the first blind whiskey tasting subscription kit. I’d suggest that Flaviar was there first, but there’s room for both of these guys in the market, I think.
The idea is simple: Each quarter Blind Barrels sends you four unlabeled 50ml sample bottles of what is promised to be a “unique and hard to find” whiskey — mostly craft products from off the beaten path. After you taste them, you can scan an included QR code to reveal their identities. Found Bob DeMars says it took tasting 150 samples to arrive at the 16 whiskeys in Blind Barrels’ first 4 line-ups. The price is $60 quarterly or $200 per year. Shipping and tax not included.
We received Blind Barrels’ March 2022 mailing to see a recent example of what the outfit is putting out. Since it’s been a few months, I hope we can safely spoil the contents of the kit. My quick guesses about what was in each bottle along with some rough tasting notes follow — and, in parentheses, the identity of each sample.
A – young rye; woody, some butterscotch, green; not wholly engaging (Black Button Four Grain Bourbon)
B – young bourbon; woody, some pepper, nutty; more interesting but immature (Kings County Bourbon)
C – bold, bourbon, maybe Texas; very woody, mesquite-like, punchy (OYO Wheat Whiskey Oloroso Finished — at 5 years old, this is the only whiskey over 2 years old in the mix)
D – rye or high-rye bourbon, wine finished perhaps; floral and fruity, with a big herbal kick on the end, my favorite of the bunch (291 Colorado Rye)
So, by and large you’re getting some old guard craft whiskey in the mix, including some pretty well-worn stuff like Kings County Bourbon. The inclusion of a sherry-finished wheat whiskey was definitely interesting — and it really threw me for a loop in trying to identify it. All in all, one of the samples was really worthwhile, two were just fine, and one I didn’t care to drink more than a few sips of.
At $12 to $15 per sample, the value of the kit here is moderate in comparison to other tasting kits, but fans of craft whiskeys that they can’t readily obtain elsewhere may find this an even better buy. Bonus points for the blind tasting setup, which worked perfectly well and definitely adds some fun to the experience.
B / $200 per year / blindbarrels.com