Well, it’s that time of year again, where you’re supposed to be making New Year’s resolutions not to drink so much, but along comes Barrell Craft Spirits with its annual New Year release just daring you to forget all about Dry January. (We did.) When it first launched in 2016, this bourbon was something of a blending free for all among the Barrell staff, which used to be unusual for the brand before expressions like Dovetail and Seagrass came along. Now, it’s just one of many unique expressions in the Barrell stable, albeit one that still relies on a broad range of component whiskeys. The latest offering includes bourbons aged between 5 and 10 years and sourced from eight (!) different states. Maybe one day they’ll get them all in there! Let’s see what this New Year has in store for us, shall we?
The aroma is gentle at cask strength and woody with sawn lumber and soft mesquite notes. It’s toasty, mildly sweet, and almost buttery, like a crust of warm milk bread. As it opens, a bit of candied citrus and fresh-baked macaroon unfolds with hints of minty rye spice underneath. The palate is big but approachable with a syrupy mouthfeel. The flavors are classic at first with caramelized sugars, loads of baking spice, and vanilla custard. There’s a bit of a changeup on the mid palate where things turn more earthy and rye-forward with some caraway, cracked pepper, and wintergreen. The generous and warming finish finds a middle ground with notes of Andes mints, caramel cake, cherry ice cream, and cream soda. Another fitting yearend sendoff, probably worthy of the occasional Dry January cheat.
A- / $90 / barrellbourbon.com