Barrell Whiskeys: Find out why and how they've become the connoisseurs favorite sipper
Our buyer, Joe, sat down with Barrell Whiskey to find out how they consistently bottle such rich, dynamic, powerful, delicious whiskey. Read through to learn what infinity whiskey is, why it's ALWAYS cask strength, what makes each batch so special, and why every industry insider is stocking up. Just don't read thirsty.
Barrell sources whiskey, but also blends and releases it in limited batches. Many others take a more straightforward source and bottle approach. Why do it this way?
So glad to start with this question! Core to our belief in whiskey production is that a marriage of ingredients can be greater than a sum of its parts if blended correctly. We are not pretending to be a distiller of a singular product and we feel we are always improving upon our blending technique and sourcing network. Our model allows us the freedom to push further into the world and possibilities of blending. Utilizing our ever-expanding "spice cabinet" along the way.
Batch 15 and 16 are interesting because they showcase two different approaches, what inspired each batch?
Within the Bourbon cannon, we generally seperate our batches into two different styles of blending. Batch 15 is a "contrast blend". To us, this means that there is a base whiskey (in this case a 9+ year old very easy-on-the-palate bourbon) and then there are "contrast barrels" that we blend in to push it in one way or another, or add complexities. In Bourbon 15, those contrast barrels were older KY bourbons that brought a soft, mineral note to the bourbon and sweetened it a bit. Batch 16 is what we refer to as a "likeness blend". In these blends, we collect barrels that might be otherwise unrelated but have some sort of unifying marker that we enjoy. In batch 16, it was a distillate ester that Joe reads as this sort of fruity-toasted orange note. All of these barrels were mature, but not too oaky.... which let that one note shine through the entire batch.
Infinite Barrel is a very unique take on a permanent product, how much does each bottling change?
When we bottle The Infinite Barrel Project, we do so knowing that it will be sold as a single item going forward. For this reason, we are extremely careful that each bottling is only a small improvement and departure from the previous and that they feel linear and not sporadic. The key to The Infinite Barrel Project is that many of the ingredients going into the tank after a bottling are ingredients that are already present in the tank. The difference is that the new additions are still aging until they are utilized. Essentially, with each bottling, portions of ingredients get older and more complex/mature but in doing so we tweek the ratios to the balance we feel optimizes the project at that moment.
The current American Whiskey release includes Amaro-finished whiskey, how do you go about balancing such a strong flavor?
We actually began this project thinking that we would finish all or the majority of the barrels in this blend in Amaro. You are right, it is a very strong flavor... and the barrel finishing pulls out a vanilla-forward note that pulls the whiskey out of balance by itself. This blend took us a long time because we essentially started with a small fascinating but unbalanced whiskey and blended into it until we felt it was complete. In the end, it was the roundness of the domestic brandy finish, the tannin of the 9 year old Bourbon, and the delicate nature of the 12 year old whiskey that really balanced the batch.
Would you ever release a not barrel strength product?
As of now, no... We are a very small company and we prefer to focus on what we know and what we do well. Watering back is a fascinating process and is much more complicated that most people like to make it. It is not just about the amount of water, it is about the temperature of the water when it goes in, and how fast you add it. We often talk about how we would even start a process. Would we water back each ingredient separately and then blend? Or water back the entire batch? And if so, it would effect the balance in a way that we would probably have to re-blend. So no... not in the plans at the moment.