Our second single cask selection has arrived and we are thrilled to have our first Bourbon single barrel be Stellum. Stellum is a new, small-batch, solera of sorts bottling from Barrell Craft Spirits. Barrell and Joe Beatrice are known for their high-end, exclusive single barrels and small-batch releases ranging from Canadian whiskey to Bourbon and rye from all over the country, even rum. I have always been a big fan of Barrell as they are one of the few that helped pave the way for a better light being shed on American whiskey sourcing misconceptions. They also helped to show that the art of blending, which is sometimes overlooked by a lot of Bourbon drinkers, is a tricky task and essential to good, consistent bottlings even if they are just single casks.
Stellum comes from the Latin word “stella” or star and Stellium is a group of planets all concentrated together. The branding is simple yet elegant with the out-of-this-world, star gazing concept in mind. Luckily, the whiskey is pretty darn good too. I went down to New York City to meet with the Barrell team and go through their single barrel options. You never quite know what to expect and how many samples you might get to try when you go to these things because everyone runs their barrel programs a bit differently. Of course, too many samples is never a bad thing but it can be overwhelming so you need to have a game plan. There were at least 30 samples of Stellum Bourbon on the table for me to try let alone the rye samples that were sitting right alongside it.
There were a couple of different mash bills available and of course a variety of ABVs. I decided to take a spread of everything to start and warm up the palate. I know a lot of bourbon fans like the highest ABV they can find but you must not only judge based on that! Although, I did end up going with one of the highest ABVs on the table. I would pick three samples at a time, go over to a corner table and sit alone, most likely with terrible posture, while I dove into each Glencairn glass, nosing and tasting. I invited my friend Anthony who runs the spirits program at Roma in NYC. He was a much-needed break from my focused whiskey nosing session and a good friend who understood the task I had at hand. After about an hour or so I had narrowed it down to three barrels which I felt were the standouts. I needed a refresh; a bathroom break, a lap around the office, crackers, water, and then back to revisit all three.
LYRA, Barrel K3
*Lyra is the name given to this parcel of casks that were purchased by Barrell. They name the batches of barrels they purchase. Other parcels that I tasted through were Vega and Cygnus.
121.82 proof / 60.91% ABV
Mashbill: Lyra – 75% Corn / 21% Rye / 4% Malted Barley
Nose: Baked apples, orange creamsicle, Luxardo cherries, roasted chocolate, and a dash of earthy spice.
Palate: Warming spice, chai spice, and the viscosity is all-consuming, mouth-coating. Toffee, coffee, and chocolate on the finish. It bounces honey to spice, honey to spice as the finish lasts for a long time.
Due to the ABV, we left this in the glass for 10 to 15 minutes and let it breathe. Not only will water change this pour but air will too. Enjoy the 3 whiskeys in one!
I hope you enjoy it as much as Charles and I do!