- DISTILLER: Produced by Barrell Craft Spirits
- MASH BILL: Undisclosed but it's a blend of bourbons from Indiana, Tennessee, and Kentucky
- AGE: 16 Years
- YEAR: 2021
- PROOF: 113.54 Proof (56.77% ABV)
- MSRP: $499.99
DAVID'S REVIEW OF BARRELL GOLD LABEL
SHARE WITH: Someone who loves 16-plus-year-old bourbon and can’t afford the bottle. Also, consider someone who is wary of Tennessee Whiskey’s profile in Barrell blends—this has it well-balanced as a background character that adds body without overpowering the other flavors.
WORTH THE PRICE: No, but it’s closer than I expected. This would be a great purchase in a whiskey group where the cost is per ounce and not per bottle.
BOTTLE, BAR OR BUST: Bar. This would have to be near perfect for me to recommend a bottle at $500 MSRP.
OVERALL: This bottle immediately comes with so many expectations that it’s hard to judge it fairly. Tasted blind, this is an excellent bourbon that balances the strong Kentucky and Indiana bourbon profiles while deftly relegating the overly distinct Tennessee whiskey notes to a supporting role. In a blend of whiskeys as old as 17 years, this could easily have been over-oaked, yet it isn’t. It is warm, orange zest-forward (note: not orange vitamins), with bright red fruit evolving into a maple old-fashioned without being too sweet.
The finish adds in milk chocolate and almonds reminiscent of older Heaven Hill bottlings, though I don’t expect that distillery to be the Kentucky source in this blend. For me, this earns its price by evolving constantly from nose to palate to finish. Admittedly, the nose takes a few minutes to bloom, so let it. It’s worth the wait.
BRAND TASTING NOTES
Barrell Craft Spirits Gold Label Bourbon is a blend of 16- and 17-year-old straight bourbons. Barrels for this release were selected from four different collections: cherry bomb barrels with a rich mouthfeel, nutty oak-forward barrels, high proof and high complexity barrels, and barrels with pronounced milk chocolate notes. The last group underwent a secondary maturation in toasted virgin American oak casks before being added to this intricate and seductive blend.
A classically fruity bourbon, as sixteen years of maturation have produced an array of stewed and dried fruits of kaleidoscopic complexity. The overlay of toasted oak has rounded off all the sharp edges, leaving a soft and gentle profile that belies its high proof.
- NOSE: The fresh and gentle notes from toasted oak are most obvious, as they add an unexpected dimension with vivid sugar cane, pipe tobacco, and toasted cinnamon. This freshness is contrasted by the earthiness of slate, tar, and cedar smoke. Fruits soon emerge, presenting rhubarb, Rainier cherry and tamarind, before shifting to dried apricot and papaya.
- TASTE: Candied ginger, marmalade, and northwestern hoppy beer notes speak to a foundational bittersweet profile. These are tempered by an unctuous creaminess, incorporating pina colada, key lime pie, and banana custard. Peach nectar, and cherry jam all contribute to a juicy quality whiskey at its best.
- FINISH: A bright pop of hibiscus and za’atar quickly yields to the cavalcade of dried and stewed fruits. As that fades some oak spices appear—sassafras, cocoa powder, smoked cinnamon, and incense.