For those thinking the launch of the Stellum whiskey line in 2021 would mark a more wallet-friendly turn for Barrell Craft Spirits, the company put that idea to bed with a coinciding move way up-market in the form of new Gold Label and Gray Label releases. While we’ve only yet seen a Gold Label Bourbon, the Gray Label line has already offered a bourbon and whiskey as well as a premium version of the Seagrass blend. Next up: Gray Label Dovetail. Like standard Dovetail, this blend has been finished in a mix of rum, port, and Dunn Vineyards Cabernet barrels, but to earn Gray Label status, those component whiskeys must be “older” and “rarer.” How old and how rare remains a bit of a mystery, as this is the first Gray Label release without an age statement, but Barrell does tell us there are whiskeys up to 20 years old inside this bottle. I’m a fan of classic Dovetail, so let’s see how its fancy older brother stacks up.
This is a very different aroma than the original. It’s initially quite fruity and floral, showcasing a bright acidity and notes of green apple and unripe pear, grape skins and white flowers. As it opens in the glass, a savory, almost creamy, element develops with notes of toasted sesame, pecan shells, and brown butter that eventually offers up more familiar, if subtle, toffee and baking spice. The palate reveals some of the hallmarks of the classic but more elegant and well-structured. Things kick off with rum-inspired brûléed sugars, grilled pineapple, and coconut cake before advancing to a layered mid-palate of currants, blackberry cobbler, clove, and anise. It’s lush and surprisingly approachable until a burly finish of black pepper, ginger, and barrel char. A rather different Barrell expression, but one that still hits all the high notes.
A- / $250 / barrellbourbon.com