Country: United States
Region: Tullahoma, TN
Not available at Binny’s
Price range elsewhere: $99.00 – $159.00
Acquired: Purchased by the glass at 1913 in Roselle IL
Barrel/lot sampled: 120794
Barterhouse Kentucky Bourbon
96.3 / 100WhiskeyRating's Score
This has got to be one of the best bourbons I’ve tasted.
Expensive. Hard to find
Mystery. Intrigue. Lost barrels of greatness. That’s what you get when you find a bottle of 20 year old Barterhouse Bourbon. The folks at Orphan Barrel seem to work hard to find the rare barrels that don’t fit a distiller’s normal taste profiles yet I’m hesitant to fully believe this story. As I write this in April of 2016, I see many reviews dating back to 2014. Given that span, I can’t imagine I’m drinking what comes from the same barrels that others tasted coming on two years ago. If I am, sales are slow. Of course, at $99-$150 a bottle, this isn’t going to sell as quickly as the average bottle of bourbon. So I’m in agreement with others who see this as a fabulously high quality bourbon that was purposefully distilled at Heaven Hill’s Bernheim distillery in Louisville KY, aged in the Stitzel-Weller Distillery, and bottled in Tullahoma. .. but I’d be thrilled to be wrong.
Whatever the case, this is a stunningly good bourbon. Its dark amber color comes with a bit of brown that shows its age. It has a light nose. It is sweet and reminds me of light brown sugar. You will smell the oak but it’s not overpowering. Like the aroma, the taste is sweet and oaky and oh so smooth. There is a building alcohol feel if you hold it in your mouth too long yet, it remains mild. There are some sweet, dark fruit flavors that come through near the end. I found it had a medium viscosity that lingers on the cheeks. The finish is a smooth, dark flavor leaving memories of mild cinnamon and caramel. A near perfect sipping bourbon!
No surprise that a really mellow bourbon makes for a really smooth Manhattan. Sometimes they are overly sweet or way too spicy but the Barterhouse is well balanced with enough sweetness to tell you it is a bourbon and enough oak to let you taste the quality.
This has got to be one of the best bourbons I’ve tasted. It is so smooth and easy to drink as it isn’t too strong and gives oh so many flavors. There is no doubt this is well-aged. Its maturity comes through from before the first sip. While it makes a stellar Manhattan, I think I prefer it neat so that it’s rich flavors clearly come through to show it’s quality.
Don’t let the higher than average price throw you off. It isn’t cheap enough for an every-day bourbon but it is a stunner for those that appreciate the quality.