Barrell Whiskey American Vatted Malt Review
An expertly crafted blend of American single malts that's sure to have you finding something new with each sip.
Type: Blend of American Single Malts
Distillery: Multiple (see explanation below)
Proof: 117.5 proof
Age: Blend of a variety of 1.5 - 8 year old single malts
Before I get into the review, here's a little more information on exactly what this bottle consists of. Barrell was very transparent with this release, which is great to see. They even named 6 of the distilleries they partnered with. Per Barrell's website:
"This bottling is a blend of exclusively American single malt whiskeys. We partnered with small and large producers across the country to select whiskeys that express the full diversity of American terroir and style. The resulting blend is remarkable, and we are proud to be the first to showcase the growing category of American single malt in this way."
Some of their collaborators asked to remain anonymous, but the core group consists of:
• Balcones Distillery, Waco, Texas • Hamilton Distillers Del Bac, Tucson, Arizona • MGP, Lawrenceburg, Indiana • Harvest Distillery, Valatie, New York • Santa Fe Distillery, Santa Fe, New Mexico • Kings Country Distillery, Brooklyn, New York
For a full breakdown with a lot of additional information about this release, visit the link below.
Amber, but just slightly lighter than their last batch of Cask Strength Bourbon.
There's a lot to unpack here. The malted barley is readily apparent off the top. Diving in beyond that I find clove, with maybe a hint of fennel. There's a great smoky note that's different from what I'm accustomed to with bourbon and rye. Think smoke, not barrel char. Vanilla custard follows the smoke and there is a nice white wine undertone to the whole package.
Like with many other Barrell whiskeys, the flavor explodes across your palate at first sip. It's one of those pours that seems to activate different tastes and flavors continually as it moves across your mouth. As soon as you pick up one note, here comes another, and another. Cereal and bread notes from the malted barley lead the party here just like on the palate. There's absolutely no confusing this for bourbon. With the next wave of flavor comes fruit, but it's melon and a dash of mango, not cherry or citrus fruits. Vanilla and oak round things out. The oak was a nice, unexpected touch. This whiskey is complex and I'm certain that as I return to this bottle in the future, I'll find new flavors each time.
This is a long finish that's on the dry side. The white wine from the nose comes back around. The pepper lingers and out of nowhere, a flash of banana comes in. I almost missed it, but the same flavor is present in one of my favorite whiskeys; Jack Daniel's Single Barrel Barrel Proof. They don't taste the same, but the note is there on both.
Like virtually all Barrell releases, this is a complex whiskey that reveals itself in wave after wave of flavor. In this bottle you'll find various fruits, cereal notes, smoke, vanilla, plenty of spice and more. The flavors are bold and aggressive and there's just so much more going on than you'd find in a standard single malt. I also want to reiterate that this is absolutely a malt whiskey. It's not bourbon, it's not rye and it's not some crossover whiskey. If you aren't a fan of malt whiskey, this isn't for you. That said, if you like malt whiskey or are even open to trying it, this is a fantastic representation of it and one you should add to your bar if you have the opportunity.
This sample was provided at no cost courtesy of 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