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In 2019, certainly one of our favourite vodka producers, Infuse Spirits, branched into whiskey. The outcomes had been, properly, not the very best, and finally the road was scrapped and rebranded, with no point out of Infuse on the label in any respect. Not too long ago, a revamped Damaged Barrel re-emerged on the scene and, given our fairly powerful evaluation of its unique releases, we had been shocked to see almost the complete lineup of the brand new whiskeys arrive on our doorstep — seven bottlings out of a complete of 9 at present in manufacturing. The whiskeys are older now — all billed as varied varieties of straight whiskeys, although there are nonetheless no age statements — however (nearly) are nonetheless made at Inexperienced River (previously often called O.Z. Tyler). “Our whiskey matured together with the distillery,” says CEO Seth Benhaim.
Damaged Barrel’s lineup consists of 4 core releases, two “reserve oak” bottlings, and three restricted editions — and possibly extra to come back. Every thing is completed in a method or one other — the “damaged barrel” thought is that barrel staves are used for ending fairly than putting the whiskey itself in ending casks — and proof varies fairly extensively.
Has three years turned a web page for Infuse and Damaged Barrel? Let’s discover out. Right here’s a take a look at (most of) the 2022 Damaged Barrel lineup.
Damaged Barrel Bourbon California Oak – 70% corn, 21% rye, 9% barley; completed with 80% cabernet sauvignon wine cask and 20% new French oak staves. It is a tender, youthful, and fairly gentle spirit, notes of peanut butter and a gentle baking spice ingredient kicking off the present. Buttery vanilla offers the nostril a sure pastry character. The palate can also be doughy however gentle, peanut notes fading into brewed tea, nougat, and a dusting of cloves, cinnamon, and black pepper. Easygoing and approachable, however there’s no trace of pink wine right here. 88 proof. B / $31
Damaged Barrel Bourbon Small Batch – 70% corn, 21% rye, 9% barley; completed with 40% bourbon barrels (which is odd), 40% new French oak, and 20% sherry cask staves. The extra aggressive, hotter nostril is agreeable, evenly spicy with notes of baking spice, ample pink pepper, and a slug of vanilla. Chocolatey on the palate, with a standard composition of caramel corn, peanut shells, and a clove-heavy spice, this presents like an easy and easy bourbon, with no hint of the sherry stave affect. 95 proof. B / $31
Damaged Barrel Heresy Rye – 95% rye, 5% barley; completed with 40% bourbon barrels, 40% new French oak, and 20% sherry cask staves. Our first “repeat” of the previous Infuse line; this has the identical mashbill and title because the older product. It’s frankly a step down from the 2 bourbons, with a lightweight acetone aroma that’s muted by an aggressive sweetness. It’s additionally a bit beefy on the nostril, although once more tempered because of some spearmint notes within the combine. The palate’s sweetness feels a bit otherworldly, a ton of menthol giving the whiskey a high quality that blends Doublemint gum with Vick’s VapoRub. Scorching, with lingering petrol on the end. 105 proof. C+ / $34
Damaged Barrel Bourbon Cask Energy – 70% corn, 21% rye, 9% barley; completed with 40% bourbon barrels, 40% new French oak, and 20% sherry cask staves. It is a higher-proof model of the Small Batch Bourbon reviewed above. Acquainted aromas, although a stronger barrel char affect and a few chocolate are each evident. The additional warmth helps out the palate a bit, including a racy high quality to an in any other case peanut-popcorn heavy expertise, folding in layers of cinnamon and pink pepper. It’s all very anticipated, very similar to the Small Batch itself, however the larger abv retains it from wandering off message. 115 proof. B+ / $44
Damaged Barrel Plank Walker American Whiskey 7 Years Previous – 85% corn, 15% rye; completed with 80% Barbadian rum cask and 20% French oak staves. That is at the very least one thing fascinating, one of many few whiskeys within the BB lineup with an age assertion — and a single barrel launch, at that. Distilled in Indiana, not at Inexperienced River. A vastly totally different whiskey than what’s come earlier than — there’s a lightweight whiskey character right here, maybe — with a daring caramel corn assault on the nostril, backed up by enduring granary notes and a reasonably highly effective barrel char character. Maple and butterscotch cleared the path on the thick, cereal-driven palate — that is almost 60% abv — with brown sugar and honey notes not possible to shake because it builds, even with water. Pink pepper on the end, with extra caramel. Maintain including extra water. 115.6 proof. B / $55
Damaged Barrel Uncommon Americana American Whiskey 7 Years Previous – 85% corn, 15% rye; completed with 75% Sauternes cask and 25% French oak staves. Identical inventory as above, with an uncommon end. Shocking depth of colour right here. Notes of espresso and darkish chocolate are intense on the nostril, with oxidized, nearly Port-like notes making me marvel if I’m actually ingesting the proper whiskey or if in some way this was mislabeled. Highly regarded on the palate, we’re at 60% abv right here. Once more, a lot of espresso, cocoa powder, and a mixture of pink and black pepper. Some charcoal notes on the end are aggressive, however tempered by a contact of lemony, honeyed sweetness — the one actual signal of the Sauternes affect within the combine. Undoubtedly one of many extra fascinating whiskeys within the lineup, although by no means what I used to be anticipating. 120 proof. B+ / $70
Damaged Barrel The Wreckoner Wheat Whiskey 3 Years Previous – 85% wheat, 15% barley; completed with 80% Cognac cask and 20% French oak staves. Cognac-finished wheat whiskey, you say? At 60% abv? One other bruiser of a whiskey, this punches on the nostrils with its notes of peppery barrel char and floor espresso, although there’s some tempering sweetness right here to maintain issues leveled out, at the very least a bit. The palate is a scorcher and ample with char; I couldn’t probably peg this as both wheat whiskey or Cognac-finished, although slug of water helps on each fronts. With water, the whiskey exhibits itself as a bit grainy and chalky, however laced with notes of stone fruits and cherries; it’s actually the one method to eat this spirit. The end nonetheless stays scorching and punchy, some gentle brown sugar providing a respite from uncooked alcohol. It’s a curious bottling, however I’d bottle this at a a lot decrease abv to permit among the extra delicate traits come into focus. 120 proof. B / $90