Limited edition season is shaping up nicely with press releases rolling out nearly every week. This week starts of with a bang in the form of a barrel proof limited edition that is comprised of straight bourbons from KY, IN, and TN with secondary maturation in “select cooperage” according to the brand. What does this mean, and how does it translate to the consumer? Let’s dig in and find out.
As many readers have come to know, Barrell Craft Spirits is something of a wildcard in the bourbon world, in that they are sourcing products from all over the world and effectively using them as ingredients to create products that are more than just the sum of their parts.
One bright and shining example of Barrell’s prowess in the blending and finishing game is a product that has been a Whiskey of the Year contender (and winner): Barrell Seagrass. Below is a video of the Gray Label limited edition of Seagrass, and our thoughts on how it compares to the original non age-stated product.
According to the brand, this release not only marks the fifth edition of the Gray Label Bourbon, but it’s also a culmination of their efforts in developing the product. In a pretty cool twist, they have taken barrels from previous editions of Gray Label Bourbon to finish this year’s release.
“This release of Gray Label Bourbon is constructed from bourbons of varying ages made from five different mash bills. After marrying, the blend goes into casks made using 36-month air-dried staves that previously held Gray Label Bourbon, to rest and further mature.”
Barrell Craft Spirits
I’ll be sure to get my hands on some of this new Gray Label Bourbon and put it through it’s paces, and we’ll record a Weekly Whiskey review to share as well. For now, I’ll just share the tasting notes according to Barrell Craft Spirits–which I have to say–are always so artfully-written that I find myself wondering when I’ll finally grow up and put together such elegant notes for my own reviews!
Nose – Opens with some simple, bright fruit notes – dry cider, tart green plum, and banana pudding. These accompany the expected caramelized sugar notes of cinnamon donut and pecan pie. The tropical side slowly unfolds, revealing pineapple, passionfruit, and coconut milk. Peach cobbler and strawberry cheesecake reflect the fruitiness taking on a more cooked character.
Taste – Honeydew, cantaloupe, and watermelon make for fun and seldom-seen flavors in a bourbon. Mary Jane candies and dark chocolate ganache offer an earthy contrast. There is a gentle undercurrent of minerals such as celery salt and snuffed beeswax candle.
Finish – Mouthwatering and refined with an initial burst of sweet tea and Meyer lemon. Rose jelly, raspberry pastilles and chardonnay provide a sophisticated floral signature.
As their products evolve from a standard expression to a Gray Label, and further on into BCS Gold Label releases, my co-host and I love to try them out and compare them. Comparing them all is a fun exercise, but it also helps highlight the absolute value of the baseline or original expression to roll out of the laboratory.
The big takeaway, for me, is that the Gray Label releases (along with their older Gold Label counterparts) are a great way to take an established profile, such as Dovetail or Seagrass, and really turn the flavors up a notch or two.
The $249 price tag that comes along with the Gray Label lineup (and $500 for Gold Label) is up to each individual as to it’s merit, but generally speaking, if you’re a fan of Barrell’s products, these premium releases come with quite a bit of flavor to go with that big bold price tag. Cheers!
I got into bourbon for the flavor and experiences associated with it. As I found more bourbon I enjoyed, the need to dive deeper into the history, brands, and technical side of things converted me into a total bourbon geek.