I am a big fan of Barrell Bourbon but also their whiskies, including their rum, brandy, and amaro cask finished “light” or “Carondolet“whiskies (Bourbon on the wrong side of Canal Street), which are bourbon mashbill whiskies that are aged in used cooperage. Fairly long aged light whiskies are plentiful with MGP in Indiana, and Smooth Ambler and Barrell have both tried to make use of these light whiskies. Some have been good, some not so much. Barrell Armida is thankfully different; rather than using light whiskies from MGP, they used their wonderful Cascade Hollow bourbon and finished it in Pear Brandy, Rum, and Sicilian Amaro casks. This whiskey weighs in at 112.10 proof at cask strength.
The color is a lovely amber; I would guess the bourbon was approximately eight or more years old before being put into the finishing casks. Big oily legs and film on the swirl. On the nose is some nice vanilla, orchard fruits, and floral notes. Very fragrant. On the palate, there are pears, dark fruits, star anise, molasses, and baking spices; it is hugely complex. On the finish, the fruit notes fade into tobacco and oak, with the bourbon flavors making themselves really present with the rum notes acting a descant to the main theme. My Dad is a rum drinker and I saved this bottle that I purchased a bit a go for our Christmas get together, and I thought he might like it. He thought this was really good.
I have to say this was a really smart move for Barrell to start finishing bourbon rather than light whiskey in varying casks. The light whiskies are totally dominated by the finishing casks, and while good, the bourbon really adds structure to the palate and really enhances the finish. Unfortunately, this is a limited release of roughly 3,500 bottles. This whiskey is quite an experience, and if one is available you should definitely buy it. They definitely picked the right time – fall – to release this bourbon, because it really tasted like Christmas in a glass.