Review: Barrell Vantage

We’re back again with yet another special release from Barrell Craft Spirits, and this one is all about the wood, three different types of wood, in fact. I’ll let Barrell supply the deets:

Vantage is a blend of straight bourbons finished in three distinct expressions of virgin oak: Mizunara, French, and toasted American oak casks. The result is a warm, elegant bourbon that highlights the many dimensions of oak.
The BCS team has drawn on years of experience with three-part barrel finishing, used previously in Armida, Dovetail, and Seagrass. With Vantage, those same techniques were applied to the oak itself, using different char levels, toast levels, and oak origins to create a multidimensional blend.
Each component whiskey in Vantage is finished separately, then systematically combined according to a blending process fueled in equal parts by a scientific approach, experience, creativity, and experimentation. This process focuses on the wood characteristics and the specific flavor contributions that each cask contributes to the blend. The result is a masterfully blended, perfectly balanced representation of the harmonious synergy between bourbon and barrel.

I guess I’m not surprised that Barrell wouldn’t be content with just a run-of-the-mill double-oaked expression. Let’s check Vantage out.

The aroma is sultry and woody, showcasing the wide variety of new casks in the blend with ample spice and barrel char. Asian spices, pipe tobacco, and dusty incense give the nose a dry edge and skew things toward the savory end of the spectrum, but notes of chocolate-covered macaroons and Cherry Coke offer some contrast given a bit of time to open. The palate is oily with a rich, caramelized sugar sweetness. There’s a bit of red pepper spice on the mid-palate that quickly turns to more baking spice and a bit of stone fruit before receding into ginger snaps and pie spice on the warming and generous finish. With so many different barrels competing for attention, it’s remarkably even keeled with the balance and depth of a really well-aged bourbon and the vibrancy of something younger and a bit more exotic. My favorite of the Barrell special releases to date.

114 proof.


Barrell Vantage




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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