Review: Our Favorite Bourbon Brand Just Created a More Affordable Spinoff
New from the team at Barrell, it’s Stellum Rye and Bourbon
What we’re drinking: Stellum Spirits Rye and Bourbon, the initial offerings from a new — but also not-so-new — American whiskey brand.
Where it’s from: The team at Barrell Craft Spirits put these expressions together — and if you’re wondering why an award-winning whiskey brand wouldn’t release this under their own name, we’ll get there!
Why we’re drinking this: Stellum’s rye picked up a Double Gold at the 2021 San Francisco World Spirits Awards, and the bourbon won a Gold. So these are very nice early achievements.
And we’ve been effusive in our praise of Barrell, so it’s interesting to see that team put out something under a different name. There are several reasons for this: They’re noticeably cheaper ($55 vs. $90+) and with minimalist bottling. And while Barrell’s bourbon and rye batches are limited release (made once and gone when sold, which gives us FOMO), Stellum’s cask-strength offerings will be available on an ongoing basis and blended to consistency. And in general, the mash bills here are more focused on Indiana.
The Stellum Bourbon blend features a 5–6-year-old IN/KY/TN profile using three different Indiana mash bills and includes barrels from 4-16 years old. It’s bottled at 114.98 proof.
The Stellum Rye blend is rooted in a classic 95/5 Indiana mash bill but accented with rye barrels from KY and TN. The barrels are 4-10 years old.
How it tastes
The rye: Heavy baking spices on the nose. Dried fruits abound on the palate, and there’s a spicy kick at the end, along with faint traces of mint and anise (both which explode after a drop or two of water). This doesn’t hold back — if you’re tired of ryes that try to hide or soften what they are, this feels like the purest expression.
The bourbon: Interestingly, I get a modest rye kick both on the nose and finish. Cinnamon, pear, cloves and a heavy tobacco element are present, too. Not as sweet as you’d think, this is more a bourbon for rye lovers.
Both still interesting, like Barrell, but a little more straightforward and, most importantly, available.
Fun fact: We’d be remiss if we didn’t mention a recent rye from Barrell itself. Barrell Seagrass also picked up a Double Gold at the 2021 SFWSA — it’s rye (both American and Canadian) finished in Martinique rum, Madeira and apricot brandy barrels and coming in at 118.4 proof. Much softer on the nose, this is a bright, fruity, decidedly tart and multi-layered take on rye; it’d do wonders as the (very expensive) replacement for rum in tiki cocktail.
Where to buy it: You can grab the Stellum bourbon and rye in 45 states or online here for $55 each.
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