I have previously reviewed Stellum, Joe Beatrice’s of Barrell fame latest project. Stellum has now released three different groups of Stellum Single Barrel, Cygnus, Lyra, and Vega, along with Serpens & Rigel in their rye line. I have managed to acquire one of each of the single barrel bourbon groups. These being single barrel bourbons, they will vary from barrel to barrel, but the groups do have the mashbills and times of selection in common. I picked up the Cygnus at the Liquor Barn in Lexington, Kentucky, and Hokus Pokus had Lyra and Vega; Lyra being a pick by Wines Unlimited, Stellum’s Louisiana distributor, and Vega being picked by Hokus Pokus. Just looking at the bottles, the bourbon gets progressively darker going from Cygnua to Lyra to Vega. These are all MGP bourbons specially distilled for Barrell/Stellum, as noted on the backs of the bottles.
Cygnus E4, Liquor Barn pick, high rye mashbill, selected in Winter and Spring of 2021, 106.9 proof – nice amber color, big bold legs on the swirl. On the nose is vanilla and herbal rye. On the palate, the vanilla and herbal rye on the nose really come through, with the rye becoming candied as the bourbon heads for the finish. Very nice mouthfeel and the finish is medium long. Really nice high rye cask strength bourbon, on par with Old Soul Single Barrel. So, if you are a big Blanton’s fan, you should be hunting for a Stellum Cygnus.
Lyra L8, Wines Unlimited pick, low rye mashbill, selected in Spring and Summer of 2021, 117.1 proof – solid amber color, more so than Cygnus, also with big bold legs on the swirl. On the nose is heavy vanilla, caramelized sugar, and some oak. On the palate, big vanilla, some oak, a hint of dark chocolate, and a light dusting of baking spices. On the finish the baking spices, specifically cinnamon and clove, take over and linger. Really amazing finish. Again, a very nice mouthfeel. It does not drink as high proof as it is, so this could be really dangerous on an evening, as you’d swear it is 107 proof or so. Absolutely solid MGP cask strength bourbon.
Vega N4, Hokus Pokus pick, low rye mashbill, selected in Spring and Autumn of 2021, at a bruising122.76 proof – solid dark amber with some mahogany notes, so darker than the other two, and again with big legs on the swirl. On the nose is vanilla, creme brulee, clove, and a hint of pipe tobacco. On the palate, much like Lyra, there is big deep Carribbean vanilla, oak, dark chocolate, but the baking spices of clove and cinnamon are much bigger, and the oak is bigger as well. On the finish, big cinnamon and clove that just lingers and lingers. Just as dangerous at Lyra at this high of proof. I think this will go well with a cigar, and I plan to test this out this evening. This one, for me, just really hits all of the right notes. This is a special barrel.
So, the Vega is my favorite, but what is really great is that Stellum is putting out single barrel MGP bourbons in the five to six year old range that are all amazing at the $55 price point. So many other non-distiller producer releases of MGP at the same age as Stellum or younger and are either proofed down from cask strength or are younger than Stellum, and frankly they don’t taste as good, they cost more, or both. Good on Joe Beatrice for continuing to raise the bar as far as quality bottles of bourbon at reasonable prices in this tough market.
This Stellum Vega pick by Hokus ranks up there with the picks they have done for Russell’s Reserve, Four Roses, Maker’s Mark, Barrell, or Knob Creek Single Barrel. Another amazing bourbon barrel pick. They just continue to pick amazing barrels. I am buying a case of this before it is gone.