Author: Joe Burnett
As with all good stories, this one starts on a night of whiskey tasting with friends. It was towards the
end of the Barrell Whiskey tasting at The Roost earlier this year, and the topic came up of what I’ll refer
to as the “Almost enough” experiment. As with many of Barrell Whiskey’s offerings, they produce a
limited run and market to select distributors to see how we respond. One offering we enjoy today,
Seagrass, was initially done this way and our response was over the top, which is why it was more than
just an one-time offering. This latest offering follows this same approach; a limited production of just
three Oloroso sherry casks’ worth. The ‘angels share’ was much greater than expected, resulting in
almost enough cases to distribute to their selected distributors, but just not enough. And if there’s not
enough – there’s not enough. So we circle back to that fateful night with Ro and Jose Carrasco of The
Roost with an offer they couldn’t say no to; buy the entire lot on the spot! And they did!
If you’ve had any of Barrell’s offerings previously, you’ll recognize the unassuming bottle and topper.
They focus their attention on the spirit and the nuances of the numbering and labeling. The initial pour
from the one available bottle has the characteristic sherry colouring as you might expect. Not ruddy or
excessively deep, but a medium color hinting at how long it was finished. A small sniff and you’ll find
the ripe pear, a light amount of caramelized fig and nuttiness. The resulting cask-strength bottling
comes in at just a touch over 122 proof, but you probably wouldn’t guess that based on the complexity
on your pallet. Initial sips yield a caramel start, as the alcohol blooms along with the fig-pear
characteristics from the sherry. As the bloom fades, the vanilla is undeniable along with notes of what I
can only describe as sweet cream. I fully expected some amount of “high proof burn” either on the back
of the throat or tongue but the way the initial spirit is produced along with barrel selection eliminates
that characteristic. Additional sips allow for more caramel to come thru, with the vanilla cream
blooming at the end. This is an easy drinking whiskey, with no harsh or clashing notes, not thin, and
doesn’t age out your pallet.
I wanted to see how a bit of cracked ice might change things so in a clean glass I gave it a try. The nose
was softened a considerable amount, with more alcohol forward-nutty flavors on the initial sip along
with a more mild vanilla cream finish, and again without the heat that other bottles carry at this proof.
I’ll be honest, the room temperature neat pour has much more expression to my nose and pallet and
that’s what I prefer. But to each their own – maybe you have better ice than I do.
So here’s the thing – this is an incredible offering for an uncommon finished American whiskey and I
would hands-down recommend this. If you’re new to the higher proof offerings don’t let this steer you
away. In no way does this carry the “high proof burn” that more mainstream products provide. This
carries itself on its own with a well balanced sherry expression, sippable, and is something you want to
share with your friends. Even friends who aren’t “whiskey friendly” will find enjoyment here. Well done
Barrell Whiskey, make more please.