Georgia-based Shortbarrel is a recent addition to the ever-growing list of independent American whiskey bottlers. It began as a barrel picking group in 2016, but by 2021, after more than 350 barrel picks, a few of the group’s members decided to graduate to brand building. In less than two years, they’ve established a modest portfolio of limited releases, including single barrel Kentucky bourbons, Indiana ryes, and finished American whiskeys (mezcal and honey barrel, thus far). We received two of their latest offerings for review. Thoughts follow.
Shortbarrel Toasted Bourbon 101 – This is a younger Kentucky bourbon that has been re-barreled in a medium toasted barrel for a minimum of 21 days. The nose is well-spiced with a nice depth that doesn’t really betray its youth. There’s some caramel corn, but it’s not gritty or undercooked, alongside notes of toasted oak, ground cinnamon, and dark maple syrup. That accelerated aroma seems to have come somewhat at the expense of the palate which is something of a barrel bomb with that extra barrel finishing adding a healthy amount of grip and oaky tannins. It’s not entirely distracting though with initial notes of nougat and buttery praline that transition to brighter peach pie on the mid-palate. The finish kicks off with some mildly sharp barrel char and oak before balancing out to a warming finish of syrupy stone fruit and crunchy chocolate biscuits. 101 proof. B+ / $80
Shortbarrel Rye 101 – This rye whiskey release, the brand’s third, is comprised of MGP-distilled ryes aged at least five years. It’s a quality rye from the get-go. The aroma is a nice balance of torched sugar, dried herbs, and soft baking spice with a healthy layer of mint syrup that grows airier with more wintergreen as it opens in the glass. The palate is light but full-flavored with caramel sauce, clove chewing gum, and grassy spearmint. The finish lingers with caramel candies, fading notes of muddled mint, and a generous, peppery spice. A great cocktailing rye that easily doubles as a solid sipper. 101 proof. A- / $60
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