Barrell Bourbon Cask Strength Batch 018 Review
Updated: Apr 3, 2019
One of the best cask strength batches Barrell has ever released. A newly crowned, award-winning blend that lives up to the hype.
Type: Blend of straight bourbon whiskeys
Distillery: undisclosed, distilled and aged in Tennessee and Kentucky
Proof: 111.56 proof
Age: 11, 14 and 15 years
Retail: $80-90 most places
For a full rundown of this batch, visit https://www.barrellbourbon.com/batch18
*Note. I'm happy that I tasted this and posted an initial impression just a few days before this bottle won "Best Small Batch Bourbon +11yrs" at the San Francisco World Spirits Competition. I've found that going into a bottle knowing it has won awards or was considered the best by industry experts can set expectations unreasonably high. That said, this stuff is phenomenal and I'm confident it would've lived up to the hype.
Similar to the previous two batches, it looks just like a dark, organic honey. It has that dark amber tone that makes you think it will be sweet before you've even taken a sip.
Dark cherries are what I get first. Maybe I was primed by the appearance, but I'm getting a sweet honey note as well. Citrus fruit comes forward but is balanced out by faint notes of tobacco and allspice. Everything is beautifully balanced by just the right amount of oak.
As expected, fruit rushes onto my palate, but it's a mashup of various things and not one specific dominant note, almost like a sangria that's loaded down with oranges, cranberries, lemon and much more. Molasses, rye spice, a little better and a slight mineral note round out the taste. The heat is perfect for me. This proof stands up to a nice dose of water but is plenty smooth enough for neat drinking.
Long and tingly, with orange zest, semi-bitter chocolate, and a leathery kick. It may sound a little odd, but I promise you it works.
I've had a lot of Barrell products recently, and I keep expecting one of these new batches to take a step backwards or introduce a bad note, but it just hasn't happened. This is the best batch of Cask Strength Barrell Bourbon that I've tried dating back to at least Batch 11, and it may even top that one. I'm not surprised at all that this won awards in San Francisco. There are very few bottles in my bunker that would top this in a head-to-head, and I wouldn't be overly confident picking any of them above this in a blind tasting. This is just an excellent bourbon, and one you should try or buy when given the opportunity.
This sample was provided at no cost by Barrell Craft Spirits. Thoughts and opinions are my own.
This is a general guide of what I consider each score range
4.75 - 5.00: Phenomenal. Hard to imagine anything better. Acquire at any cost.
4.25 - 4.50: Excellent. I'll camp out to get a bottle if necessary.
3.75 - 4.00: Great stuff. I'll buy backups if not too expensive.
3.25 - 3.50: Good stuff. Try to keep one on the bar, but don't spend too much.
2.75 - 3.00: Not bad. I don't regret the purchase, but may not buy another.
2.25 - 2.50: Sub-par. I regret the purchase. Reserved for mixed drinks.
1.75 - 2.00: Bad. I'll struggle to finish the bottle. May not want it in cocktails.
0.00 - 1.50: Drain-pour. Something seems wrong with it. Get it away.