Review: Our Favorite Bourbon Brand Just Created a More Affordable Spinoff

New from the team at Barrell, it’s Stellum Rye and Bourbon

The two new bottles of Stellum, from Barrell Craft Spirits
The two new bottles of Stellum, from Barrell Craft Spirits

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. 

The two new bottles of Stellum, from Barrell Craft Spirits
Stellum bourbon and rye

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.  

Barrell Seagrass
Barrell Seagrass took home a Double Gold at the SFWSA
Barrell Craft Spirits

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.


Join America's Fastest Growing Spirits Newsletter THE SPILL. Unlock all the reviews, recipes and revelry — and get 15% off award-winning La Tierra de Acre Mezcal.