Barrell Dovetail Bourbon Review

Barrell Dovetail is another #DrinkCurious story for me. I have never been a fan of cask finished whiskeys. I’ve never bought a bottle of finished whiskey and every time I’ve tried one I’ve been less than impressed.

Barrell Dovetail Bourbon Review Header


  • DISTILLER: Produced by Barrell Craft Spirits
  • MASH BILL: Undisclosed
  • AGE: A blend of a 10-year-old whiskey distilled in Indiana finished in Dunn Vineyards Cabernet barrels and an 11-year-old bourbon distilled in Tennessee finished in black strap rum casks and LBV Port Pipes
  • YEAR: 2018
  • PROOF: 122.9 (61.45% ABV)
  • MSRP: $80


NOSE: Butterscotch Candy  |  Leather  |  Wood  |  Stone Fruit  | Old Books

TASTE: Butterscotch Candy  |  Stone Fruit  |  Black Pepper  |  Medium viscosity

FINISH: Caramel  |  Black Pepper  |  Medium Length  |  Light Heat

SHARE WITH: Everyone.  Although Dovetail does have some heat on the finish, there’s more subtlety than one would expect from a whiskey with such a high proof.  It’s not as overwhelming as many cask-strength whiskeys.  For those that are fans of finished whiskeys, this will be a huge hit.

WORTH THE PRICE: This is at a price point I’m often hesitant about, but I know others aren’t.  Its in-line with the majority of Barrell’s releases outside their Craft Spirits Series.  For me, this is definitely worth the price.

BOTTLE, BAR OR BUST: Bottle.  At this price point, I always recommend trying a pour first, but you won’t be disappointed picking up a bottle.

OVERALL: Barrell Dovetail is another #DrinkCurious story for me.  I have never been a fan of cask finished whiskeys.  I’ve never bought a bottle of finished whiskey and every time I’ve tried one I’ve been less than impressed.  Then I tried this.

I was surprised that the whiskey was more honey in color than a deeper amber in the glass, as the age, finishing and proof lead me to believe it would be a much darker pour.  The nose on this is fabulous!  I’ve had great whiskeys, but for a whiskey to transport me somewhere other than a rickhouse upon nosing it is a rare occurrence.  Dovetail immediately put me in a bookstore, one rich with mahogany walls, tufted leather chairs, and shelf upon shelf of classic literature and poetry.  I could almost hear the bindings creaking open on books that I’ve never read, but my wife has multiple times.  Definitely not what I was expecting to pick up.

On the palate, Dovetail hits hard with butterscotch candy up front, as if you just dove headfirst into that big vat of candy at the front of the grocery store.  The butterscotch lingers for a while on the front palate before giving way to stone fruit and the spice of black pepper.  The mouthfeel is slightly thicker and very pleasant.  On the finish, the black pepper returns, and with a drop of water, caramel comes out.  While there’s pepper here, there’s not significant heat that one would expect from a whiskey that’s almost 123 proof.

Barrell’s Will Schragis brought his personal sample bottle of Dovetail to St. Louis’s Whiskey in the Winter last December where I had an initial chance to taste it.  In a hotel ballroom, out of a small rocks glass with a couple thousand other people surrounding me, Dovetail made an impression.  It was hands down the best thing I tried all night, thanks Will!   Now, having had the opportunity to secure a bottle and have multiple pours, it has changed my outlook on finished whiskeys.  Good things happen when you #DrinkCurious.




Appearance: Rose gold with highlights of worn copper.

Nose: Opens with mature aromas both sweet (canelé, panna cotta, crème de noyaux) and savory (walnut oil, leather). This is followed quickly by a vast array of fruit derived both from the spirit (smoked apricot, grapefruit peel) as well as the cask treatment (sloe gin, damson jam). The aroma is high toned, pungently floral and herbaceous, with subtle, balancing pops of minerality.

Palate: Darker (cocoa, molasses, burnt marshmallow) and spicier (cola, nutmeg, Tellicherry peppercorn) than the nose, an effect well-complemented by the cask treatment and rendered more complex by the savory and herbaceous themes running throughout.​

Finish: A sweet and elegant signature of rose jelly, chestnut honey, and Pineau des Charantes that also features hazelnut, eucalyptus, and Corsican mint.


An unexpected avalanche of orange and tropical notes of watermelon, lychee and vanilla on the nose.