Review: Stellum Black Equinox Blend #1 and Fibonacci Blend #1

Review: Stellum Black Equinox Blend #1 and Fibonacci Blend #1


It seems like Barrell Craft Spirits just can’t stop making premium blends, no matter how hard they try. Last year, Barrell launched their Stellum Spirits line which offered a cask strength bourbon and rye designed to be simpler blends at a more wallet-friendly price point than their batch releases. The goal here seemed to be a more consistent and accessible product that still lived up to Barrell’s high standards of quality and creativity. It didn’t take long, however, for the pricier, premiumized special editions to arrive under the Stellum Black label, followed by yet another collection of entirely different Stellum Black “Specialty Blend” limited editions. Having a hard time keeping up? You’re not alone.

We haven’t yet sampled a standard Stellum Black offering, which also includes both a bourbon and a rye, but we’re told they are built around the core Stellum blend and a layering of “older reserve barrels.” What then to make of the latest “Specialty Blend” Black releases? The bourbon, dubbed Equinox Blend, is reportedly produced in the same manner as Stellum Black with unspecified “rare bourbon” barrels, the catch being that blending was completed on the evening of the Vernal Equinox “in honor of the changing seasons.” The marketing folks can be forgiven for trying to conform to the whole space theme (Stellum is Latin for “star”), but this seems like just a bit much. The story behind the rye offering is only marginally better. Branded Fibonacci Blend, for the famous mathematical sequence (you’ll probably need to look it up), this whiskey is an elaborate combination of six different rye blends. That was all probably more backstory than you needed. Ah well.

Stellum Black Equinox Blend #1 – The aroma is classic and well-built with notes of pulpy citrus, peanut shells, vanilla bean, and chocolate-covered toffee. It’s a bit punchy at this proof, but there’s enough sweetness and depth to keep the alcohol from being too distracting. The palate is bold but approachable and quite sweet. Notes of caramel candies and freshly ground cinnamon kick things off before transitioning to candied orange peel and vanilla taffy on the mid-palate accompanied by some latent warming spice that builds with measured intensity into a balanced finish of sweet, sticky honey and drying, spicy oak. I have no firm idea where this bourbon fits in the pantheon of Barrell spirits, and I’m not really getting any Vernal Equinox notes. But it’s still a solid whiskey. 117 proof. A- / $100

Stellum Black Fibonacci Blend #1 – The nose is surprisingly restrained for the proof. It’s dominated by citrus but not juicy pulp or fragrant zest. This is almost entirely of the dried variety, mild but still fresh. The oak is well-integrated with a toasty char note and soft wood pulp. An earthy layer of whole spices arrives as things open up. The palate is thick and rich and bolder than the aroma suggests. Notes of lemon oil and dark brew black tea kick things off accompanied by a punchy rye spice that hits with intensity initially but recedes quickly into the mid-palate with a gentle, hugging warmth. Spice box, treacle, and cinnamon syrup follow before a generous wood-driven finish of dry oak, clove, and cinnamon stick. The standard Stellum rye was my favorite of the pair, and I have to give the edge to this one, as well. 115 proof. A / $100  

Stellum Black Equinox Blend #1




Drew Beard is assistant editor for Drinkhacker and winner of several booze-related merit badges, including Certified Specialist in Spirits and Executive Bourbon Steward. A former federal employee turned hotelier and spirits journalist, he looks forward to his next midlife crisis.

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