• Seth

Barrell Dovetail Whiskey Review

A great bourbon with all the best elements of rum, port and cabernet, expertly compiled into one delicious bottle.

Type: Whiskey finished in rum, port and Dunn Vineyards cabernet barrels

Distillery: Distilled in Indiana and Tennessee (crafted and bottled by Barrell Craft Spirits)

Proof: 122.9

Age: Blend of 10-year whiskey and 11-year bourbon

Retail: $79

For a specific breakdown of this batch, visit https://www.barrellbourbon.com/dovetail

Dovetail is a blend of 10-year whiskey finished in Dunn Vineyards Cabernet barrels and 11-year bourbon finished in black strap rum casks and LBV port pipes.


Copper, with a slight reddish tint


Diving right into this one after pouring, there's a bit of an ethanol kick, which could be expected as this is the highest ABV Barrell I've reviewed to date. Swirling this and letting it sit for just a bit clears that out and lets the sweeter notes really shine through. Going back for a second nose, there are big notes of vanilla cupcakes and heavy molasses. Following the sweetness is a healthy dose of dark fruit, led by cherry pie and plums. At the tail end of the nose there's a familiar hint of tropical flower that really rounds this one out. The nose has me excited to get a taste and see what's driving these sweet aromas.


This is one of those pours that just explodes onto your palate with flavors coming from all sides. There's a tangy fruit note that's so sweet, tangy and concentrated, it reminds me of fruit flavored candy more so than individual fruit. I'm talking Mike and Ike and Cherry Sours. Beyond the fruit, burnt sugar, similar to a good creme brulee comes forward. Rounding out the palate, there's a nice earthy flavor that's a little more uncommon in bourbon. The mouthfeel has a bit of a Houdini thing going on as it's smooth and creamy at first, then finishes with a light dryness like a red wine.


The finish is medium to long and packs an enjoyable burn that lingers but isn't overly hot. The dry mouthfeel continues through the finish as the sweeter notes fade away.


I've had plenty of wine finished bourbon, and some rum finished bourbon as well. Most of those are unique but seem to suffer from the same fate of being sub-par whiskey with wine or rum elements added to cover for the lack of depth to the underlying bourbon. This blend has opened my eyes to how well these finishes can be done. First and foremost, it's just good bourbon. On top of that bourbon base, Barrell once again proves their expertise in blending as they've seemed to extract all the best elements from each finishing barrel. They pull the sweetness and tannins of the port pipe, the savory fruit from the cabernet barrels, and the vanilla and syrupy sweetness of the rum casks. If you're looking for a special finish or just something other than a standard barrel proof bourbon, you'll be hard pressed to find a better option than this one. This is one of the best special finish bottles I've had.

This sample was provided at no cost by Barrell Craft Spirits. Thoughts and opinions are my own.



Rating Scale:

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 from me.