Saturday, 23 May 2015

Beer Barrel Bourbon

I've enjoyed my share of bourbon barrel aged beers, but this cheeky offering from New Holland Artisan Spirits turns that formula on its head--a bourbon aged in beer barrels. This 40% alcohol American whiskey's appearance at my local liquor store neatly coincided with my resurgent interest in amber spirits.  That, combined with enduring love off all things beer made Beer Barrel Bourbon practically leap of the shelf and into my bar, despite the nearly $60 sticker price for a 750mL bottle.

According to the label, this stuff is actually aged in American oak barrels before being piped into beer barrels for a three-month tour of duty that "lends biscuity notes and a smooth malt character to the robust whiskey tones of toffee and caramel." I can't pretend to be a bourbon aficionado--at best, I'm a zealous enthusiast--but I'll take a crack at describing the stuff. It's a honey-hued, faintly cloudy tipple that has a warm and boozy vanilla bean aroma. As billed, buttery toffee is a large component of the flavour, on top of a grainy body. I was expecting to be greeted with something notably beery, but that's not what this untrained and untested bourbon novice found.

New Holland Artisan Spirits is affiliated with the good folks at New Holland Brewing, out of Holland, Michigan--the outfit responsible for Dragon's Milk Bourbon Barrel Stout and The Poet Oatmeal Stout, both of which I quite enjoyed. As for their bourbon, it was also a quality product. At 40%, it's a little less potent than the bourbons I typically prefer, and at $58 and change, a touch on the pricy side, but I'm glad I bought it. It was a treat.  However, for an establishment that is a brewery first, I was surprised that they didn't include any information about the beer that was formerly housed in those barrels.

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