New Holland: Beer Barrel Bourbon


Nose: This has a very light, sweet scent with sweet corn, and raisin notes with a small amount of bready notes. Palate: The first sip of this hits your tongue with a bit of a tingle and I almost thought that it was carbonated at first. The mouthfeel, while tingly, is relatively light. On further sips, it became evident that the tingly factor seemed to be very reminiscent of beer. (Stay tuned, this will be explained below). This really has a pleasant chewiness to it that leaves the impression of liquid bread. It is relatively heavy on the sweet side, but also has a maltiness to it. I picked up on molasses and some toasty oak. It leaves a little bit of an aftertaste that reminds me of a well done pizza dough. On later sips, the caramel started coming through a bit more. Comments: If you’re not from PA or ever shopped for booze there, PA has a state-run liquor store system. It has both its supporters and detractors. But…..they have come a long way and you can find some interesting products there sometimes. I found Beer Barrel Bourbon on the website for the state stores, PA Fine Wine and Good Spirits (finewineandgoodspirits.com). It was listed as a clearance item and was 1/2 off its $33 price. So….a 750 bottle of a bourbon for an affordable $16.50 seemed like a no-brainer. It was certainly worth a try. Quite frankly, this was a great deal. While I wouldn’t drink this every day, it has enough of a unique flavor to separate it from all the other bourbons. This is likely to be a result of their unique finishing. The bourbon is aged in new American oak barrels but then finished in barrels that held the company’s Dragon Milk Stout. I’m sure that it is this finishing that gives this bourbon it’s unique, malty flavor. And…..I like it. I’m a big fan of stouts, so I suppose it would be natural for me to like bourbon finished in stout barrels (especially when the stout is finished in bourbon barrels!). I like this so much (especially after a second tasting), that I would say it is a good buy even at full $33 price. OK……so this is put out by a brewery, New Holland Brewing Co. (which is in Michigan). According to their website, they’ve been brewing beer since 1997 and their label seems to imply they have been distilling since 2005. Internet sources speculate that the juice in this is sourced, but there’s no speculation from whom. And….I couldn’t find any mashbill information. The bourbon is a very enjoyable 80 proof. Bottom line? Definitely worth a try, especially if you like a sweeter and/or maltier bourbon.