In this Weekly Whiskey episode we dive into the new Barrell Vantage, a blend of straight bourbons finished in Mizunara, French, and toasted American oak. This new product takes the place of Armida in Barrell’s evergreen lineup, and will now rest alongside both Dovetail and Seagrass. This release raises a host of questions: is it better than Armida, is it as good as Dovetail and Seagrass, and what does it taste like? Dig in, and we’ll answer them as we go.
Barrell Craft Spirits Unveils Vantage
Readers here will be familiar with my reviews and comparisons of products in the Barrell Craft Spirits lineup. Barrell’s Seagrass being a personal favorite whiskey of mine, and among the top finished whiskey for me year in and year out, but some other products in the Barrell portfolio saw much less excitement.
Barrell Armida, named after BCS founder Joe Beatrice’s mother, was a passion project for Joe. It was a whiskey designed to embody childhood memories from a family farm in the Northeast, and drew upon the impressions left on Joe’s youth by aromatics such as orchard fruits and autumn weather.
The expression itself seems to be rather divisive. I know plenty of people who like the big fruitiness and funky tones that come along with the pear brandy Jamaican Rum, and Sicilian Amaro cask finishes; but, I also know many folks who had a tough time getting into the unique profile of it. While Armida may not have been the best seller in the BCS lineup, the scarcity of the pear brandy casks for the product ultimate lead them to start developing something to take Armida’s seat in what they call their “evergreen” lineup. Enter, Vantage.
“We drew upon our years of blending expertise, creativity, and testing to create a bourbon with impeccable balance and depth of flavor that embraces different char and toast levels, along with its oak origins. Barrell Vantage is an exciting step forward in our never-ending journey to take bourbon to new heights.”
Joe Beatrice, Barrell Craft Spirits
Below is a snippet from the Vantage press release which outlines the naming of the product and the theory behind it’s creation:
BCS’s unique vantage point in the whiskey world, combined with a passion for experimentation and nuance, enables the team to discover new flavor profiles and complexities in bourbon blends. Barrell Vantage is the result of deliberately pairing specifically identified bourbons with carefully selected cooperage, giving rise to a final expression that focuses on the subtle flavors and their compounding profiles.
Barrell Craft Spirits have flexed their blending and finishing muscles time and time again and released products that have scored extremely well for both myself, and my co-host on Weekly Whiskey. Jay rated Seagrass Gray Label a perfect 10/10 (which he has done with precisely one other product in over 2000 spirits reviews). Suffice it to say, when it comes to identifying spirits as ingredients, and using those ingredients to really build a unique product, these folks are teaching a master class.
So what does the team at Barrell do to create these products utilizing multiple finishes? Here’s a look at their description of the process behind their evergreen products:
Each component whiskey in Barrell Vantage is finished separately, then systematically combined according to a blending process fueled in equal parts by a scientific approach, experience, creativity, and experimentation. This process focuses on the wood characteristics and the specific flavor contributions that each cask contributes to the blend. The result is a masterfully blended, perfectly balanced representation of the harmonious synergy between bourbon and barrel.
This ultimately has me wondering if the final product is going to be a rich and deep flavor wheel, or if it will do what other toasted American oak products have done for my palate, and come across as either somewhat boring, or just too damn sweet. To answer that question, and to get more perspective on where this product lands for me (and Jay), I’ll wrap up by sharing a Weekly Whiskey video on Barrell Vantage.
Thank you so much for checking out this post. I love sharing new products with readers, and hopefully adding the video element allows a bit more expression to come through as we taste and discuss Barrell Vantage.
If you’re interested in expanding your bourbon journey with some knowledge from myself and Jay, head over to our YouTube channel and take a peek at the Whiskey Education Series Playlist we’ve put together. We discuss tasting technique, glassware (and why it matters), and even some pitfalls to avoid in your whiskey buying.
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Weekly Whiskey thanks Barrell Craft Spirits for graciously providing us a sample of their product. Being able to try new things in the whiskey space, without strings attached, is an opportunity we greatly appreciate. Per our review ethos, we provide objective reviews and commentary on media samples of spirits and products; remember, friends, these are the good old days of whiskey!