What’s the best readily-available barrel proof bourbon on the market? Rare Character is hoping that in due time Fortuna Barrel Proof Bourbon will be top of mind any time that question is asked. Fortuna Barrel Proof is the latest release from the brand Rare Character, which to this point has gained more traction with their Single Barrel Series than their stellar 102 proof Fortuna flagship offering. Released in limited batches of 3 to 5 barrels aged for at least 7 years – with only 5 batches produced for this initial run – this expression enters the market at a time when the consumer calls for more cask strength, non-chill filtered bourbon is at a fever pitch.
As whiskey enthusiasts snap up almost any undiluted offering by the caseload will Fortuna Barrel Proof enter the fray as an opportunistic alternative or a true game changer? Let’s find out.
On the nose it immediately holds true to the aromas found in Fortuna standard, with a slightly dusty note billowing out of the glass to greet the senses in conjunction with a fruit medley of strawberry jam and fresh blueberries over a solid layer of oak, cinnamon bark, and peppercorn. With a turn of the glass one continues to find butterscotch buried beneath the chunks of fruit with gentle baking spices – think nutmeg, clove, and allspice – sprinkled throughout.
Once on the palate, those nosing notes spring to life as blackberries find the tip of the tongue while butterscotch and a faint nuttiness lay claim to the middle of the mouth. Finally, clove, cinnamon, and a curious sprig of rosemary are left to entice the roof of the mouth before simmering long into the finish. With a rather robust texture enabling those flavors to ebb and flow throughout each sip, Fortuna Barrel Proof is an exemplar of “checking every box.” If taking your time with each sip is your thing, you’ll find that plumbing the depths of both the sweet notes and the spice notes offers enjoyment in equal measure.
Despite being a jack of all trades, Fortuna Barrel Proof defies conventional wisdom by excelling in multiple categories. With a masterful mouthfeel and an impressive depth of flavor accompanying its enticing aromas, this is a treat from start to finish. Having tried 3 of the 5 batches currently available, it’s a safe bet to say you can expect each iteration to be a riff on the classic notes detailed above making for a high quality expression across the board.
While the category of cask strength bourbon isn’t exactly bereft of options, Fortuna Barrel Proof goes to show that having more truly is merrier.