It takes a skillful palate and innate knowledge of flavor interactions to create blended whiskeys of distinction successfully. That’s where Louisville-based Barrell Craft Spirits shines. The company’s Stellum Spirits line unveiled last year is a classic example of the blending/bottling operations cask-strength tradition; then came the Stellum Black label, and now a pair of more exclusive restricted-launch Stellum Black Specialty products.
The newest offerings temper Indiana base barrels of bourbon and rye with older products from Kentucky and Tennessee. Initial introductions — Equinox Blend #1 and Fibonacci Rye Blend #1 — each presenting unique profiles that make favorable first impressions.
Sampled on the evening of March 20 to commemorate the changing seasons, the amber-hued Equinox drinks surprisingly smooth, considering it’s bottled at cask strength (117.26 proof). The slightly tannic nose blossoms nicely into a buttery mouthfeel and luxurious chocolate, caramel, and toffee flavors. A few drops of water bring forward a hint of creamy milkshake and a dash of fruit before fading into a long finish. Nice.
It only makes sense that a whiskey blend named for a math formula would embody the concept of the whole being greater than the sum of its parts. Referencing a sequence in which each number is the sum of the two that precede it, the Fibonacci (115.12 proof) combines six different ryes to create an earthy, oaky sipper that hits the roof of the mouth with notes of maple, brown sugar, and baking spice. Like its Equinox counterpart, the finish hangs around.
All either of these wants is a simple splash of water or an ice cube to mellow out the heat, just a smidge for full appreciation. Stellum’s Equinox and Fibonacci Rye each retail for right around $100 each.