Barrell Bourbon Cask Finish Series: Mizunara Review

This is a deep, rich bourbon. The aroma is dark with molasses, Demerara syrup, and a bold fruitiness alternating between bright, fresh berries and fortified wine. As things open up, some crunchy toffee and pipe tobacco arrive.

Barrell Bourbon Cask Finish Series: Mizunara Review



SHARE WITH: Barrell fans, newbies to the brand who may not know where to begin with all the Barrell releases, and anyone who isn't afraid of barrel strength and a unique wood finish.

WORTH THE PRICE: Indeed. Plenty of $80+ bourbons out there get a tenth of the care and feeding that goes into this bottle. Sure, it's all sourced juice, but it's also quality bourbon from across the spectrum brought together by some of the best blenders in the business. From a dollars and cents perspective, this is one of the more affordable Mizunara-finished American whiskeys I've seen on the market.

BOTTLE, BAR OR BUST: Bottle. See above. Mizunara casks are stupid expensive, so if you want to explore the profile or make your home bar a little more interesting, this is a great bottle to pick up.

OVERALL: Barrell Craft Spirits' blending wizards don't seem to ever take a vacation. Batch 36 of their flagship bourbon launched recently, on the heels of a late 2023 launch of the new, entry-level Foundation, yet another impressive New Year blend, and the brand spanking new Cask Finish Series, where we find this Mizunara expression.

This isn't Barrell's first time tinkering with exotic Japanese oak. They explored Mizunara before in the exceptional Vantage release back in 2022, but that was a blend of three finished bourbons that included virgin French and toasted American oak, as well. This Cask Finish Series release is the whole Mizunara enchilada, a blend of well-aged bourbons from Indiana (most likely MGP), Tennessee, and Kentucky further matured in this rare and special oak. So how does it taste?

This is a deep, rich bourbon. The aroma is dark with molasses, Demerara syrup, and a bold fruitiness alternating between bright, fresh berries and fortified wine. As things open up, some crunchy toffee and pipe tobacco arrive. The finishing isn't heavy-handed, accentuating all those toasted wood sugars with subtle undertones of Chinese five-spice and teak.

On the palate, the Barrell blending wizards have built an impressive bourbon out of six very different whiskeys. Far more than the sum of its parts, there are several layers here: mint and baking spice, peach pie and candy corn, caramel sauce and black pepper. It's a round and satisfying experience that skews toward the brooding and oak-driven without the sharpness or earthy qualities that a woody bourbon often displays. The finish is warm and soothing, with ginger snaps and minted syrup.

I've tasted all three whiskeys in the Cask Finish Series, and this is definitely the standout. It's a unique and enjoyable bourbon that you'll be able to find at a reasonable price. They do exist.


Casks made from rare Mizunara hardwood are a true work of art. The wood is meticulously cut, and the barrels carefully raised due to the wood’s characteristics. Mizunara finishing imparts subtle notes of sandalwood, herbal spice, and coconut to bourbon, and precision is required to craft a harmonious blend. This cask finished bourbon was expertly blended using bourbons distilled from multiple mash bills and finished in Mizunara casks for one and a half years.


An Invigorating nose of fresh strawberry and white peach interweaves with sugar cookies and toasted corn. Vibrant notes of lemongrass and peppermint hit the palate first, then transform to a deep sweetness of Medjool dates followed by an enthralling citrus and woodsy earthiness.

Served Neat:

  • Appearance: Amber honey.
  • Nose: Starts with a burst of strawberry, golden raisin, amontillado sherry, and a touch of sawdust. Then sweeter notes of honey, vanilla, sugar cookie, and white peach appear, followed by cocoa, cherry, oiled leather, toasted corn, and palo santo.
  • Palate: The palate is viscous with herbaceous notes of lemongrass, star anise, and peppermint striking first. Honey, sweet cornbread, and dates appear followed by galangal and a woodsy note.
  • Finish: Spearmint, palo santo, lime zest, and ginger.

With a splash of spring water:

An eruption of sandalwood, palo santo, vanilla, and cherry on the nose. The palate brightens with notes of lemon curd, fresh honey, sweet peppermint, and vanilla ice cream and finishes with ginger and lime zest.

Disclaimer: Bourbon & Banter received a sample of this product from the brand for review. We appreciate their willingness to allow us to review their products with no strings attached. Thank you.