I was thrilled with Barrell Bourbon Batch 18. So much so I actually put off reviewing Batch 19, thinking they would use Heaven Hill bourbon in the next batch, which is good, but not as good as when they blend Four Roses or MGP bourbon in the mix.
But when Batch 20 came out recently and I picked up a bottle, I thought it was time I caught up on my reviews.
Well, they are still using Four Roses. Or maybe a good batch of Knob Creek or Russell’s Reserve Single Barrel. But no yeast funk with wonderful cherry notes!
Batch 19 is a mellow 109.4 proof, as far as cask strength bourbon goes. Aged 9.5 years, it is a tad younger than Batch 18. The older, Cascade Hollow juice is fourteen years old, some of which was in batch 18, and some is in Batch 20. It is a terribly good whiskey on its own. Really, blends made with this bourbon are mostly a matter of not screwing it up, rather than enhancing it with something better.
Color is a delightful dark amber. On the swirl are nice long oily legs. Nose is full of traditional bourbon flavors; corn syrup, vanilla, baking spice. On the palate is rich, cherries in syrup, some nice traditional bourbon notes of vanilla and caramel in the background. Then, the baking spices take over and crescendo into the lingering finish. Luscious mouthfeel.
I am left thinking of cherry pie with an amazing graham cracker crust. I am reminded of so many great bourbons I have tasted. Pappy 20, Knob Creek Single Barrel store picks,Russell’s Reserve Single Barrel store picks, Four Roses Single Barrel Store picks. Store picks that have those delightful cherry notes coupled with amazing cinnamon notes.
On top of that, the just a hair under 110 proof, non-chill filtered uncut bourbon is very easy to drink. Normally, I like my cask strength bourbons higher in proof. But, at this proof, the Kentucky chew is really enjoyable with little alcohol burn so you can really enjoy the cinnamon explosion at the end.
Barrell has been putting out good bourbons from their early batches. But with Batch 18 and 19 I am detecting a new trajectory toward greatness.