Review – Barrell Craft Spirits, Barrell Bourbon, Cask Strength, 9 Years Old, 54.25%

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There are certain sentences children can utter that absolutely terrify parents, causing their lungs to momentarily seize and their minds to flash petrifying scenes of dreadful aftermaths.

Consider the gurgled voice of the ten-year-old who announces while hovering above you in bed at three o’clock in the morning, “Daddy, I threw up.” In that moment, a litany of possible locations, levels of destruction, the location of your HazMat suit, and all viable isolation measures begins to churn in your barely kindled mind. “Get to the bathroom!” is your only manageable reply.

There’s also that moment when your youngest reaches out to you with an unidentifiable something in her hand that she found on the floor in the restroom stall.

“Daddy, I found this on the ground,” are her words. Again, your repulsion gland becomes inflamed as you weigh the legal ramifications for leaving her behind against the effort it will take to sanitize the scene before allowing her back into your car.

Lastly, for whiskey drinkers, there’s the following, potentially panic-inducing question.

“Daddy, can I pour your whisky for you?”

“Um, sure, honey,” you reply, walking through the front door and having already set your heart on something soothing and easy.

“Which one do you want?”

“Well, I was thinking I’d have—”

“I’ll surprise you,” she interrupts.

An uneasy moment passes as you take off your shoes and set your things near the door. You’re not in the mood for guessing, and yet your pride is in a partial swell because of the care your child is attempting.

Laying your coat on the chair, there’s a nearby clinking of glass, followed by the voluptuous lapping of what you’re hoping will be an enjoyable, ambered liquid being poured. In another second, she is before you and ready.

“Here you go, Daddy,” the little girl says proudly with an outstretched hand and a beaming smile.

“Thanks, honey,” you say, taking the dram from her hand. “Which one did you pick?”

“I’m not going to tell you,” she beams with a terrifying smile. “I want to see if you like it.”

“Well, sweetie, let’s give it a go,” you say nervously, sitting down at the kitchen table. Putting your nose to the glass, you inhale. “Hmm. Smells… a little bit… like Elmer’s Glue,” you offer in the first round, fearing you’re about to choke down two fingers worth of something you’d rather not. Taking another sniff, your heart begins to calm. “The glue is gone. Now I’m getting something fruity—like strawberries—and a little bit of cinnamon.”

You sip and savor. She watches intently.

“This is a strong one—a cask strength Bourbon, right?” She doesn’t answer you, but only shakes her head, indicating she won’t reveal her secret until you approve of her selection.

You sip again.

“This one has a thick barrel zing. And the spiced strawberries have turned into spiced peaches—sort of like the ones in those fruit cups I buy for your lunches.”

She smiles, but still keeps the name of the whiskey to herself.

A longer finish meets with your final thought. “It’s got some staying power. It’s a little syrupy, but it’s also got just the right dryness to balance things out.”

“Do you like it?” she asks.

“I think I do,” I say, but only to get a gratified hug and the revelation that she’d poured the sample of the Barrell Bourbon 9-year-old Cask Strength edition I received as a gift. In truth, had I been handed the dram by someone less interested in pleasing me, I’d have said, “I don’t not like it.”

Overall, it was interesting, but you can sort of tell that it is a farmed whiskey; that is, it’s a concoction that Barrell Craft Spirits bought from some source somewhere and then slapped their label on it. Checking into it, I could only uncover that it was born in an unnamed distillery in Tennessee.

Still, I didn’t lie to my daughter. I think I like it. And if I had a bottle of it, I’d probably drink it on occasion. In general, barrel strength whiskies are good to keep around when kids are throwing up or picking up strange objects in public bathrooms. If anything, the higher the ABV, the more one’s blood is equipped to defeat strange amoebas. Even a whiskey that you don’t not like serves well in such circumstances.