The Details

Rating 91
Style
American Whiskey
Whiskey
Produced In Kentucky, Indiana, Tennessee, Maryland
United States
ABV 50%
Availability Year Round
Price $59.99 
Reviewed By
Review Updated 2024-02-14

Barrell Foundation Bourbon Review

For roughly a decade, Barrell Craft Spirits built its reputation on intricately blended cask-strength offerings, often with novel finishes. (The brand’s annual New Year Bourbon is a personal favorite and features distillate from eight different states.) Indeed, Barrell’s ads — frequent especially in the whiskey podcasting sphere — often emphasized the moniker “always at cask strength.”

I hope there’s new ad copy ready, because that’s no longer true. In late 2023, the brand announced its first-ever proofed down spirit: a 5 year age-stated blend called Barrell Foundation. Bottled at 100 proof, Foundation features the following straight bourbon whiskeys:

  • Kentucky bourbon: 8 years old
  • Indiana bourbon: 5, 6, and 9 years old
  • Tennessee bourbon: 8 years old
  • Maryland bourbon: 5 and 6 years old

The derived mash bill is 73 percent corn, 23 percent rye, and 4 percent malted barley. As per usual, Barrell hasn’t released specifics on the blend proportions or exact origins of distillate.

Another noteworthy element of Barrell Foundation is the price: A highly competitive $59.99 MSPR, though it’s readily available on Barrell’s website for about $5 cheaper.

Does this competitively priced blend have a place in today’s market? The best indicator is taste, so let’s dive in.

Barrell Foundation Bourbon review.

Barrell Foundation Bourbon: Stats and Availability

Originally launched as a limited release in 2023, Barrell Foundation is rolling out nationwide in 2024. The MSRP is $59.99, but it’s readily available for $54.99 at numerous retailers, including Barrell’s own website. This is a regular, recurring release that is meant to be readily available and (hopefully) consistent in price. As such, I don’t expect to see it listed above suggested retail.

Barrell Foundation Bourbon Review

As with all of VinePair’s whiskey reviews, this was tasted in a Glencairn glass and rested for at least five minutes.

Nose

Orange blossom honey leads on the nose, with a small but noticeable undercurrent of oak. Floral influence is up next, including tiny bits of rose water and spice in the form of anise. It’s a crisp and refreshing start to things, and time in the glass brings out more wood-influenced sweetness. The honey gradually transitions to light caramel and fruit: raspberries, yellow plum, and apricot, to be specific. Additional nosing leans into that stone fruit, bolstered by light ethanol.

Though there’s theoretically a good portion of five year-old bourbon here — and perhaps much less nine year-old, though we don’t know exact proportions — Foundation noses toward the upper end of its component age spectrum.

So far, that’s high praise, and this blend isn’t at all dominated by green wood or grain-forward notes that hold back some blends with relatively young bourbon. It’s a new (but not unwelcome) experience nosing a Barrell product at just 100 proof.

Based on the nose, we’re off to a good start. Hopefully Foundation can keep its composure on the palate.

Taste

The palate starts off just as light as the nose, with floral, sweet, and citrus flavors all present and accounted for. Apple and honey are prominent, and the first two sips remind me of both mead and a semi-sweet cider.

After that comes nuttiness, borderline praline when paired with the initial sweetness. Marzipan and lemon zest are up next, pulling the bourbon into confectionery territory. That sweetness, plus relatively thick mouthfeel and bready undertones, are even reminiscent of vanilla-glazed hot cross buns.

There are several layers of sweetness both up front and approaching the midpalate; the tastes up front are so inviting, I have to slow my sips to actually parse individual tasting notes.

Foundation falters a bit once I pause long enough to examine the midpalate. Here, that promising oak on the nose stays silent. The result is a barely-there midpalate, a noticeable dip in an otherwise great experience for a value blend. I wanted more age and more depth at this juncture, and while Foundation doesn’t fall completely flat, it doesn’t punch through.

However, things pick back up toward the very end. Cocoa dust and cinnamon coat the very back and sides of the palate, which accentuates a surprisingly rich transition into the finish.

Finish

The finish is long, sweet, and chocolate-forward. Cinnamon, nutmeg, and clove linger for nearly a minute after each sip. Barrell Foundation is fast out of the gate and falters slightly toward the middle. But for a ~$60 bourbon, it’s certainly ending on a high note.

Barrell Foundation Bourbon Rating

91/100

Recap

For a company’s first foray into proofed-down whiskey, Barrell Foundation impresses. Keep in mind, we’re assessing a value bourbon, and even the blender wouldn’t necessarily compare this to its most premium offerings. But even when judged separately from price, Foundation deserves a rating over 90 points. It’s a downright accessible pour, and I’d be hard pressed to find any bourbon drinker that won’t appreciate it in some capacity.

Though Barrell Craft Spirits prides itself on consistency, historically the brand’s products have shown some variation from batch to batch. Given the availability of the components compared to whiskeys in the 10+ age range, it’s not unthinkable to imagine Foundation getting better with time.

In the meantime, this is a budget-friendly bottle worth keeping on hand. I certainly will be.

91
POINTS
Barrell Foundation Bourbon
For roughly a decade, Barrell Craft Spirits built its reputation on intricately blended cask-strength offerings, often with novel finishes. (The brand’s annual New Year Bourbon is a personal favorite and features distillate from eight different states.) Indeed, Barrell’s ads — frequent especially in the whiskey podcasting sphere — often emphasized the moniker “always at cask strength.” I hope there’s new ad copy ready, because that’s no longer true. In late 2023, the brand announced its first-ever proofed down spirit: a 5 year age-stated blend called Barrell Foundation. Bottled at 100 proof, Foundation features the following straight bourbon whiskeys:
  • Kentucky bourbon: 8 years old
  • Indiana bourbon: 5, 6, and 9 years old
  • Tennessee bourbon: 8 years old
  • Maryland bourbon: 5 and 6 years old
The derived mash bill is 73 percent corn, 23 percent rye, and 4 percent malted barley. As per usual, Barrell hasn’t released specifics on the blend proportions or exact origins of distillate. Another noteworthy element of Barrell Foundation is the price: A highly competitive $59.99 MSPR, though it’s readily available on Barrell’s website for about $5 cheaper. Does this competitively priced blend have a place in today’s market? The best indicator is taste, so let’s dive in. Barrell Foundation Bourbon review.

Barrell Foundation Bourbon: Stats and Availability

Originally launched as a limited release in 2023, Barrell Foundation is rolling out nationwide in 2024. The MSRP is $59.99, but it’s readily available for $54.99 at numerous retailers, including Barrell’s own website. This is a regular, recurring release that is meant to be readily available and (hopefully) consistent in price. As such, I don’t expect to see it listed above suggested retail.

Barrell Foundation Bourbon Review

As with all of VinePair’s whiskey reviews, this was tasted in a Glencairn glass and rested for at least five minutes.

Nose

Orange blossom honey leads on the nose, with a small but noticeable undercurrent of oak. Floral influence is up next, including tiny bits of rose water and spice in the form of anise. It’s a crisp and refreshing start to things, and time in the glass brings out more wood-influenced sweetness. The honey gradually transitions to light caramel and fruit: raspberries, yellow plum, and apricot, to be specific. Additional nosing leans into that stone fruit, bolstered by light ethanol. Though there’s theoretically a good portion of five year-old bourbon here — and perhaps much less nine year-old, though we don’t know exact proportions — Foundation noses toward the upper end of its component age spectrum. So far, that’s high praise, and this blend isn’t at all dominated by green wood or grain-forward notes that hold back some blends with relatively young bourbon. It’s a new (but not unwelcome) experience nosing a Barrell product at just 100 proof. Based on the nose, we’re off to a good start. Hopefully Foundation can keep its composure on the palate.

Taste

The palate starts off just as light as the nose, with floral, sweet, and citrus flavors all present and accounted for. Apple and honey are prominent, and the first two sips remind me of both mead and a semi-sweet cider. After that comes nuttiness, borderline praline when paired with the initial sweetness. Marzipan and lemon zest are up next, pulling the bourbon into confectionery territory. That sweetness, plus relatively thick mouthfeel and bready undertones, are even reminiscent of vanilla-glazed hot cross buns. There are several layers of sweetness both up front and approaching the midpalate; the tastes up front are so inviting, I have to slow my sips to actually parse individual tasting notes. Foundation falters a bit once I pause long enough to examine the midpalate. Here, that promising oak on the nose stays silent. The result is a barely-there midpalate, a noticeable dip in an otherwise great experience for a value blend. I wanted more age and more depth at this juncture, and while Foundation doesn’t fall completely flat, it doesn’t punch through. However, things pick back up toward the very end. Cocoa dust and cinnamon coat the very back and sides of the palate, which accentuates a surprisingly rich transition into the finish.

Finish

The finish is long, sweet, and chocolate-forward. Cinnamon, nutmeg, and clove linger for nearly a minute after each sip. Barrell Foundation is fast out of the gate and falters slightly toward the middle. But for a ~$60 bourbon, it’s certainly ending on a high note.

Barrell Foundation Bourbon Rating

91/100

Recap

For a company’s first foray into proofed-down whiskey, Barrell Foundation impresses. Keep in mind, we’re assessing a value bourbon, and even the blender wouldn’t necessarily compare this to its most premium offerings. But even when judged separately from price, Foundation deserves a rating over 90 points. It’s a downright accessible pour, and I’d be hard pressed to find any bourbon drinker that won’t appreciate it in some capacity. Though Barrell Craft Spirits prides itself on consistency, historically the brand’s products have shown some variation from batch to batch. Given the availability of the components compared to whiskeys in the 10+ age range, it’s not unthinkable to imagine Foundation getting better with time. In the meantime, this is a budget-friendly bottle worth keeping on hand. I certainly will be.

Reviewed On: 02-15-2024
91
POINTS
Barrell Foundation Bourbon
For roughly a decade, Barrell Craft Spirits built its reputation on intricately blended cask-strength offerings, often with novel finishes. (The brand’s annual New Year Bourbon is a personal favorite and features distillate from eight different states.) Indeed, Barrell’s ads — frequent especially in the whiskey podcasting sphere — often emphasized the moniker “always at cask strength.” I hope there’s new ad copy ready, because that’s no longer true. In late 2023, the brand announced its first-ever proofed down spirit: a 5 year age-stated blend called Barrell Foundation. Bottled at 100 proof, Foundation features the following straight bourbon whiskeys:
  • Kentucky bourbon: 8 years old
  • Indiana bourbon: 5, 6, and 9 years old
  • Tennessee bourbon: 8 years old
  • Maryland bourbon: 5 and 6 years old
The derived mash bill is 73 percent corn, 23 percent rye, and 4 percent malted barley. As per usual, Barrell hasn’t released specifics on the blend proportions or exact origins of distillate. Another noteworthy element of Barrell Foundation is the price: A highly competitive $59.99 MSPR, though it’s readily available on Barrell’s website for about $5 cheaper. Does this competitively priced blend have a place in today’s market? The best indicator is taste, so let’s dive in. Barrell Foundation Bourbon review.

Barrell Foundation Bourbon: Stats and Availability

Originally launched as a limited release in 2023, Barrell Foundation is rolling out nationwide in 2024. The MSRP is $59.99, but it’s readily available for $54.99 at numerous retailers, including Barrell’s own website. This is a regular, recurring release that is meant to be readily available and (hopefully) consistent in price. As such, I don’t expect to see it listed above suggested retail.

Barrell Foundation Bourbon Review

As with all of VinePair’s whiskey reviews, this was tasted in a Glencairn glass and rested for at least five minutes.

Nose

Orange blossom honey leads on the nose, with a small but noticeable undercurrent of oak. Floral influence is up next, including tiny bits of rose water and spice in the form of anise. It’s a crisp and refreshing start to things, and time in the glass brings out more wood-influenced sweetness. The honey gradually transitions to light caramel and fruit: raspberries, yellow plum, and apricot, to be specific. Additional nosing leans into that stone fruit, bolstered by light ethanol. Though there’s theoretically a good portion of five year-old bourbon here — and perhaps much less nine year-old, though we don’t know exact proportions — Foundation noses toward the upper end of its component age spectrum. So far, that’s high praise, and this blend isn’t at all dominated by green wood or grain-forward notes that hold back some blends with relatively young bourbon. It’s a new (but not unwelcome) experience nosing a Barrell product at just 100 proof. Based on the nose, we’re off to a good start. Hopefully Foundation can keep its composure on the palate.

Taste

The palate starts off just as light as the nose, with floral, sweet, and citrus flavors all present and accounted for. Apple and honey are prominent, and the first two sips remind me of both mead and a semi-sweet cider. After that comes nuttiness, borderline praline when paired with the initial sweetness. Marzipan and lemon zest are up next, pulling the bourbon into confectionery territory. That sweetness, plus relatively thick mouthfeel and bready undertones, are even reminiscent of vanilla-glazed hot cross buns. There are several layers of sweetness both up front and approaching the midpalate; the tastes up front are so inviting, I have to slow my sips to actually parse individual tasting notes. Foundation falters a bit once I pause long enough to examine the midpalate. Here, that promising oak on the nose stays silent. The result is a barely-there midpalate, a noticeable dip in an otherwise great experience for a value blend. I wanted more age and more depth at this juncture, and while Foundation doesn’t fall completely flat, it doesn’t punch through. However, things pick back up toward the very end. Cocoa dust and cinnamon coat the very back and sides of the palate, which accentuates a surprisingly rich transition into the finish.

Finish

The finish is long, sweet, and chocolate-forward. Cinnamon, nutmeg, and clove linger for nearly a minute after each sip. Barrell Foundation is fast out of the gate and falters slightly toward the middle. But for a ~$60 bourbon, it’s certainly ending on a high note.

Barrell Foundation Bourbon Rating

91/100

Recap

For a company’s first foray into proofed-down whiskey, Barrell Foundation impresses. Keep in mind, we’re assessing a value bourbon, and even the blender wouldn’t necessarily compare this to its most premium offerings. But even when judged separately from price, Foundation deserves a rating over 90 points. It’s a downright accessible pour, and I’d be hard pressed to find any bourbon drinker that won’t appreciate it in some capacity. Though Barrell Craft Spirits prides itself on consistency, historically the brand’s products have shown some variation from batch to batch. Given the availability of the components compared to whiskeys in the 10+ age range, it’s not unthinkable to imagine Foundation getting better with time. In the meantime, this is a budget-friendly bottle worth keeping on hand. I certainly will be.

Reviewed On: 02-15-2024