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Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Sipp’n Corn Bourbon Review – Bushel & Barrel by Berentzen

As a sure sign that Bourbon (and American Whiskey in the broader sense) is reaching never-before-seen popularity, a German spirits company founded in 1758, and known for its fruit liqueurs, has launched an apple liqueur blend made with Kentucky Straight Bourbon Whiskey.  This new spirit is called Bushel & Barrel, and to be clear, it is not Bourbon.  Instead, one of its components is Kentucky Straight Bourbon, and it is classified as a flavored whiskey blend.  I tend to stick to Straight Bourbon where I know the provenance, so this is branching out for me.

As background, while searching for Bourbon (mostly in vain) in Baltimore this past summer, my wife and I found our way to one of the largest Jack Daniels bars in the country:  The Horse You Came In On Saloon.  After pondering whether I really wanted Jack, let alone one of their fruit-infused Jacks, I decided on the apple-infused option, and was surprised to find that I liked it enough to order a second.  No self-respecting Kentuckian will admit much more, and I’m not turning in my Bourbon Card, but Bushel & Barrel came along so I thought I’d revisit this whiskey-and-apple deal.  Plus, I’m so tired of pumpkin trying to take the throne from apple as the true flavor of fall that this review is the least I can do.

Berentzen Bushel & Barrel

60 Proof
Kentucky Straight Bourbon Whiskey, Berentzen Apple Liqueur and neutral spirits.


Berentzen could not disclose the source of its Bourbon under a confidentiality agreement.

$21.99 / 750 mL bottle

Tasting Notes

Disclaimer: Berentzen kindly gave me a sample bottle of its Bushel & Barrel blended Whiskey for this review, without any strings attached. 
Thank you.

Golden with a red hue.  Note:  it has caramel coloring. 

Apples!  This isn’t a spirit with just a hint of apples, but instead apple pie is prominent immediately on the nose.

Apples!  I was relieved that the apples did not taste medicinal or imitation; it tasted like real, honest apples.  There was a slight cider quality as well, but overall the taste evoked thoughts of fresh apples in the fall, apple pie, cinnamon-apple crumb cake, and caramel apples.  Some Bourbon spiciness is there too, but only in a complimentary capacity.

The finish is short and slightly warm with sweetness of apple, caramel and vanilla.  While the Bourbon is still evident, this apple does not bite back.

Bottom Line

I opened this bottle with friends before heading out for the evening.  Between the six of us, we tried it neat, on ice, and in two easy cocktails available on the website, one with ginger ale and the other with cranberry juice, both garnished with fresh slices of a honey crisp apple.  Everyone really enjoyed each variation.  Two of us also tried Bushel & Barrel on ice with an equal part Old Weller Antique 107 in order to get more Bourbon flavor and bite, and that was my personal favorite.

At only 60 proof, Bushel & Barrel is going to seem severely under-proofed to Bourbon fans, and of course using Bushel & Barrel in a cocktail is going to bring the final ABV down to about 10%.  I’d be interested to see if Berentzen blends a second variety at 90 proof, which I think mixologists and fans of American Whiskey might embrace.  On the other hand, this 60-proof version has just enough genuine Bourbon taste that it strikes me as a fantastic introduction to Bourbon, and even in a cocktail, it still has roughly twice the ABV of popular hard apple ciders and apple ales on the market.  So whether spiked up with a high-proof Bourbon, or tamed down in cocktails, I can picture Bushel & Barrel being a part of many Thanksgiving festivities next week.

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