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Barrell Craft Spirits is a brand who represents what a non-distilling producer (NDP) can really do when they focus on creating outstanding products by blending and finishing whiskey. They are truly the masters of crafting unique and delicious products such as a former Bourbon Finder whiskey of the year product, Seagrass.
In a world where the whiskey market (and bourbon in particular) can’t seem to release new products fast enough for the eager consumer base, creating new and exciting products has really become a top method to add value to a brand’s offerings. If you haven’t been following Barrell Craft Spirits this should be considered a wake up call. When it comes to NDP’s and rolling out delicious products that are available nationwide, I can think of no one who does a better job.
Okay, I’ll stop pumping Barrell’s tires for now and go back to describing this release, which is dubbed the Cask Finish Series: Tale of Two Islands. Bear with me on this, as it’s a bit of a process to describe how in the world Barrell got to the end result of this finished bourbon. Let’s begin with Barrell’s initial offering under the banner of Tale of Two Islands.
In 2018, Barrell Craft Spirits produced a very limited release of our Tale of Two Islands Rum: a Jamaican Rum matured in peated Islay single malt barrels. To create it, the blending team filled previously used Islay Single Malt Whisky casks with a small amount of Barrell Rum Batch 001. We let it mature and the result was a deeply intense Jamaican rum with just a touch of misty peat smoke.
So the first release of Tale of Two Islands was rum finished in Islay single malt barrels–which is why I made mention of Scotch back in the intro. The barrels used to create the finished rum were then taken to create this new Cask Finish Series edition of Tale of Two Islands, which is a blend of straight bourbon whiskeys ranging in age from five to nine years old. The derived mashbill of 73/23/4 (corn, rye, malted barley, respectively) and states of distillation (Indiana & Maryland) are disclosed on the label–as Barrell always has done–and this is coming in at 118.22 proof.
I’m excited to get into this bottle and see exactly what this totally off-the-wall finish is going to do with the bourbon. I’ve really enjoyed Barrell Bourbon batches lately (batch 031 being my personal favorite) and I think their history of creating things that sound too crazy to be good that end up being incredibly unique and delicious will help them get these bottles into the market. For now, let’s worry about the most important metric for success: the taste.