Story by Manos Angelakis
Photos courtesy of Barrell Craft Spirits
Barrell Craft Spirits
The annual San Francisco World Spirits Competition (SFWSC) is the largest international spirits competition in the United States. Judging is blind and done by a prestigious panel of nationally recognized judges. With two decades of experience, the SFWSC has become one of the most respected spirits competitions in North America .
During the last competition, the bourbon of Barrell Craft (Bourbon batch 21) has garnered a Double Gold designation and was named Best Bourbon and Best Small Batch Bourbon; this is analogous to an Oscar for the spirits industry. Barrell Rye Batch 003 was also awarded a Double Gold Medal.
Barrell Craft Spirits is currently an independent blender and bottler of aged and cask-strength sourced whiskey -- not an actual distiller; Barrell Craft is recognized for its blending expertise. The company selects and blends bourbon and rye; it explores different distillation methods and aging environments, and bottles them at cask strength.
Every batch will supposedly have a very distinct flavor profile. The brand appears to be shooting for a non-typical approach; that every batch will be unique and different, placing an emphasis on blending that draws different profiles from batch to batch. Every release is supposed to be a unique limited edition often with unusual finishes and/or spirits sourced from unlikely places. For example: the Barrell Rye Batch 003 is a blend of rye whiskies from Indiana, Poland, Tennessee and Canada, featuring a selection of 4, 6, and 14-year-old barrels.
I tasted samples of both the Bourbon batch 21 and the Rye batch 03 and I thought that what I had was very interesting, mostly the Bourbon. However, I don’t believe that the philosophy of “every batch different” could be a recipe for success. The reason is because, if you like a product that you taste, you would realistically expect the next time you have the same product to taste the same; as individuals, we want to have consistency. Consistency is the reason certain brands are successful and others fall by the wayside. Consistency is what creates “brand loyalty” which means that you will purchase a product again and again because you like it. Repeated purchasing means that the brand doesn’t have to waste time and money trying to win new customers everyday; instead it builds on the base of existing purchasers to add new ones.
So, we have to see what happens in the future with Barrell Craft Spirits. I liked what I had yesterday… will I like what I will taste tomorrow?
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