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Barrell Bourbon offers entry-level whiskey

Kentucky-based Barrell Craft Spirits has released a five-year-old blend as the first non-cask strength whiskey in the brand’s 10-year history.

Three bottles of Barrell Bourbon on a yellow background
Barrell Craft Spirits founder Joe Beatrice aimed to create a whiskey that was better suited for cocktails

With growth comes change, and Barrell Craft Spirits is leaning in. The Louisville-based blending house just celebrated its 10th anniversary, and begins a new chapter with Foundation, the brand’s first non-cask strength whiskey, announced earlier this month. 

While cask strength had previously been core to the Barrell identity, founder Joe Beatrice said above all else, they remain blenders who are committed to releasing the very best products they can, regardless of proof. 

“It was actually a pretty easy choice,” Beatrice said. “It’s the same promise we have with everything, to be at a quality level that is acceptable to us. It’s not something that we’ve compromised.”

Foundation carries a five-year age statement, but features a handful of older whiskey. Beatrice and his team blended eight-year-old Kentucky Bourbon; five-, six-, and nine-year-old Indiana Bourbon; eight-year-old Tennessee Bourbon; and five- and six-year-old Maryland Bourbon.

The derived mashbill is 73% corn, 23% rye, and 4% malted barley. It is bottled at 50% ABV and priced at US$60, giving consumers a more palatable, and affordable, entry point to the brand. Typical Barrell offerings start at around US$90, with ABVs in the mid- to high-50s. 

“We think that having an entry at that price point will bring a lot more people into understanding our products,” Beatrice said. “It’s a whiskey that is extremely accessible. We designed it and blended it so that it stands apart from a lot of the competition, a lot of the other 100 proof [50% ABV] bottles.”

Beatrice said that Foundation won’t be as layered as Barrell’s flagship line of batched Bourbons, but notes that the lower proof makes it more appropriate for use in cocktails. “It’s an everyday product, it’s extremely accessible on many levels, but it is singularly unique.”

The product announcement comes on the heels of Barrell unveiling a new 31,000-square-foot blending facility in Jeffersontown, Kentucky. Beatrice called it a purpose-built blending and bottling facility, one that has increased the company’s blending capacity by more than 500%.

“We designed it to take into account everything that we’ve done in the past, everything that we want to do, and it works around our process,” he said. “The capacity in that place now is a million cases a year. We’re not anywhere near that, but we have plenty of room to grow into it.”

Foundation will roll out in select US markets starting in January. Beatrice said the intent is for it to be available on an ongoing basis, and that early sales have been encouraging.

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