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NCBS 2019 Barrel Picks

2019 Picks

1) Smooth Amber    4) Bourbon Bear            7) Woodford      10) Old Forester       13) New Riff

2) Jos. A. Magnus    5) Wild Turkey               8) Barreled         11) Smoke Wagon

3) Litchfield              6) Peerless Bourbon     9) Barreled Rye  12) Peerless Bourbon

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On 9 February 2019, the NCBS Barrel Selection Team spent the day at Smooth Amber Spirits in Maxwelton, WV.  It is set among historic mountains and rich earth, Greenbrier County and they believe details beat deadlines, and quality rules over quantity!

This was a very special trip in which the NCBS team was allowed to pick a 107 American Whiskey finish it for 8 months in a Very Old Scout 15yr Old barrel and a 107 American Whiskey finish it for 8 months in a Smooth Ambler LE Rye barrel.  


These two barrels represented an opportunity for NCBS to help a smaller group with a barrel pick and agreed to split one of the barrels with them.

These barrels needed a couple more months in the finishing process and didn't get bottled for distribution until early June 2019. Here are the tasting notes from the pick. We hope that you enjoy them!  

Barrel# 12491 (VOS Barrel Finished)

Proof: 107

Named: half "Lost Boys" and half "RR&B"

Nose: rich dried fruits like cherry and raisin.

Palate: buttery, complex hints of clove and honey, with a touch of oak and malt.

Finish: long legs of spice, toffee, can taste a bit of that VOS 15yr.

Barrel# 12058 (LE Rye Barrel Finished)

Proof: 107

Named: Mocksville-Cooleemee

Nose: floral, caramel, and malt.

Palate: vanilla then it moves to rye, caramel, nut then more rye.

Finish: lingers like a rye; however, nothing up front like a traditional rye.

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On 11 February 2019, the NCBS Barrel Selection Team spent the day at Joseph A. Magnus Distillery in Washington D.C. This historical distilling family traces its roots all the way back to 1860s in Cincinnati, OH.

Magnus Distilling presented the NCBS selection team with four amazing 12yr old Sour Mash Bourbon barrels (all MGP mash bills) to choose from. It didn't take long for the team to realize that two of these barrels were amazing (later we all would come to understand that one of these "Strawberry Kisses" would be best MGP single barrel of the year). Here are the tasting notes from the pick. We hope that you enjoy them!  

Barrel# 25-A-E17BNL (12yr 11mths)

Proof: 102

Named: Strawberry Kisses

Nose: rich candy with hints of butter, honey and fresh berries.

Palate: creamy, butter, berry (strawberry), canned berry with hints of butter cream.

Finish: complex and long, warm for a 102 proof yet something very special.

Barrel# 25-A-E18BNL (12yr 11mths)

Proof: 105

Named: No Dickel in this Pick-le

Nose: sweet toffee.

Palate: rich toffee, buttery, malted cereal, hint of raisin. 

Finish: up front on the lips at first, pepper that fades into butterscotch, baked bread pudding, toffee candy.

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There is a tradition with NCBS barrel sections. There is always a couple of individuals that have never been on a pick and there is always a bottle share one of the nights during that pick adventure. The night between the aforementioned Smooth Ambler and Jos A Magnus picks there was an epic bottle share. Bottles that evening include Old Crow Chessman, Willett Family Estate Bourbon and Rye's, George T. Stagg, Ambassador, Tumblin Dice, several Russell's Single Barrels, Boone County, Cream of Ky, several different Four Roses Single Barrels, some '71 Crown, High West, Jack Daniels Single Barrel, several others and this unknown 2018 Christmas gift set box from Litchfield...

As the group enjoyed the wild variety bottles on the table, the Litchfield was left untouched for over an hour. Finally, one of the guys asked to try it. The black wax was poorly done, flying everywhere as it was peeled off. He poured about an once, tasted it and froze in his tracks. The other members notice the sudden shock on his face and asked how is it? He paused, took another sip and stated "Hmm, MGP Cherry Bomb". If you are unsure, those are words are not taken lightly. Each man poured themselves an ounce or two. Within minutes what was once a rowdy group of eight guys and been reduced to "you could hear a pin drop" no one saying a word, just looking at the Litchfield bottle. This was the real deal.

The team spent the next hour formulating a plan to acquire as much of this for the group as possible before the secondary market found this.

Although this is not a true NCBS barrel pick, we were happy to have discovered this truly incredible MGP Cherry Bomb and shared it with the society. 

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On 8 May 2019, the NCBS Barrel Selection Team and Cristy's of Knoxville, TN. spent the day with Eddie Russell at Wild Turkey Distillery in Lawrenceburg, KY. What a great experience in a historical distillery.


After some difficult debating over eight great barrels, the team had it narrowed down to three. Eddie then had us blind taste those three which resulted in a unanimous selection of the barrel below.  Here are the tasting notes from the pick. We hope that you enjoy it!  

Barrel# 19-0565, Floor 6, Warehouse Camp Nelson F 

Barreled: 20 November 2009

Bottled: 28 August 2019

Proof: 110

Named: Because Eddie Says So

Nose: hints of floral, dried fruit (maybe raisin)

Palate: creamy vanilla, pinch of spice, hint of sweet caramel, tobacco.

Finish: long legs, holds that vanilla//caramel. 

On 10 May 2019, the NCBS Barrel Selection Team had the great opportunity to work with

Here are the tasting notes from the pick. We hope that you enjoy them!  

Barrel# Undisclosed (13yrs old)

Proof: 128.52

Named: NCBS# 1

Nose: green apple, jolly ranger.

Palate: malt, powder coco (yet not sweet), dark caramel, butter, toasted oak.

Finish: complex with heat on front and back yet dry.

Barrel# Undisclosed (13yrs old)

Proof: 128.54

Named: NCBS# 2

Nose: green apple, fresh cut pear, canned fruit.

Palate: baked coco, honey, butter cream, dried raisin.

Finish: very smooth for the proof...

Peerless Distilling
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On 8 July 2019, the NCBS Barrel Selection Team spent the day at Peerless Distilling Co. (DSP-KY-50) in Louisville, KY. This trip the team was getting to pick the first Peerless Bourbon to be solid in North Carolina.

These would be a difficult task because the Master Distiller, Caleb Kilburn, present the team with some amazing barrels to choose from; however, one stood out as a dead ringer. Here are the tasking notes from the pick. We hope that you enjoy it!

Barrel# 150429104

Proof: 108.8

Named: The Ringer

Nose: honey, toffee, maple, wheat.

Palate: buttery mouth feel, fig, sweet wheat, toasted malt, vanilla and a hint of honey.

Finish: toasted oak with a hint of dry cherry.

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On 20 July 2019, the NCBS Barrel Selection Team had the opportunity to select a Woodford Reserve Double Oak for Albemarle ABC Store, NC. Not every selection can be done at the distillery. For this selection, the Old Forester Rep presented the NCBS team with three samples.


The team was torn between two of the samples. They conducted a double blind tasting, and everyone picked the sample batch. Here are the tasking notes from the pick. We hope that you enjoy it!

Barrel# Batch #1

Proof: 90.4

Named: Happy Little Barrels

Nose: notes of dark fruit, caramel, honey, chocolate, marzipan and toasted oak.

Palate: honey, vanilla, dark caramel, hazelnut, apple, fruit and spices.

Finish: creamy with lingering hints of honeyed apple.

Barrel# L945 (13yrs Old)

Proof: 124.2

Named: NCBS Barrell Craft Spirits Rye

Nose: floral, berry, with hints of apple, notes of cedar.

Palate: pecan, light hazel nut, toasted oak, malted cereal.

Finish: up front burn of a high proof rye, spicy, long lasting. 

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In August of 2019, the NCBS Barrel Selection Team was fortunate enough to work with the Barrell Craft Spirits team. Like the Woodford selection, this barrel selection would be done via samples. 

Based on the current palate of the folks in NCBS, the selection team was cautious on the section of a 13yr old Canadian Rye; however, there was no doubt that the barrel selected was a great rye and the society members would enjoy it. Here are the tasking notes from the pick. We hope that you enjoy it!

On 3 October 2019, the NCBS Barrel Selection Team had the opportunity to select a Single Barrel of Old Forester.  In 1870 George Garvin Brown created Old Forester on Louisville, KY's, famous Whiskey Row. This amazing facility served as the main distillery and office space from 1882 to 1919. Although Old Forester was one of only a hand-full of companies given a permit to sell and manufacture whiskey during Prohibition, they moved off Whiskey Row. It wasn't until 2018, Old Forester returned home to there original building. As of our visit on October 2019, it is the only downtown distillery which houses an active cooperage, charring barrels in the same facility where spirits are being aged.

Barrel# 4391 

Barreled: 26 June 2014 (Warehouse O)


Proof: 90

Named: 'O' Bottle Where Art Thou?

Nose: dried fig, coco, leather, with a hint of green apple.

Palate: hint of coffee, leather, coco.

Finish: sweet yet savory, refined and complex, seems older. 

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Here are the tasting notes from the pick. We hope that you enjoy it!  

On 16 November 2019, the NCBS Barrel Selection Team add the opportunity to work with the Nevada H&C Distillery team. In August of 2004, Aaron Chepenik and Jonathan Hensleigh decided to be the first distillery in Las Vegas. The Las Vegas City Council had to create a license for them, since none existed. But hey, anything is possible in Vegas, right!  

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Say When.jpg
Skin That Smoke Wagon3.jpg
Smoke Wagon SiB



Like the Woodford & Barreled selections, this barrel selection would be done via samples.  We were sent four 12yr, Low Rye (MGP) samples.  Here are the tasking notes from the pick. We hope that you enjoy them!


Barrel# 5611

Proof: 114.6

Named: Skin That Smoke Wagon See What Happens

Nose: dried fruits (raisin and fig), pleasant hints of rose.

Palate: toasted oak, dried raisin, dark chocolate (semi sweet), creamy mouth feel, and just a hint of backed bread.

Finish: warm, very up front on the lips like a rye, the oak is noticeable, and has that oily funk (if you have to ask you'll never know).

Barrel# 5594 

Proof: 114.1

Named: Say When

Nose: light floral that increases after setting open for a few minutes, a touch of new oak and maybe some rye spice.

Palate: buttery, caramel, creamy mouth feel, honey, with hints of new oak or pine.

Finish: warm on the roof of the mouth, the hint of the rye from the nose comes through, so does the confer or new oak.

Peerless Distilling
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On 27 December 2019, the NCBS Barrel Selection Team spent the day at Peerless Distilling Co. (DSP-KY-50) in Louisville, KY. This trip, the team was asked by two separate NC ABC Boards to help select Peerless Bourbon barrels for them. This would be a difficult task since the last barrel the team picked was amazing and sold out in moments


The team was would prove up to the task. They selected two great, yet very different barrels. Hats off to Peerless for marking sure NC got three great barrels. Here are the tasking notes from the pick. We hope that you enjoy it!

Barrel# 150430101

Proof: 110.3

Barreled: 24 October 2015

Named: Honey Badger Don’t Give A !@#$

Nose: hint of floral and some cooked fruit (maybe candied fruit).

Palate: caramel with a hint of butterscotch; There is some toffee or honey as the butterscotch fades away.

Finish: some heat upfront with a surprise of black pepper on the end, the legs linger for several seconds and contrasts the initial honey//butterscotch notes very well..

Barrel# 150710110

Proof: 113.1

Bareled: 11 July 2015

Named: Pixy Stix

Nose: floral, plum, chocolate.

Palate: light sweetness, with a hint of backed chocolate, there are notes of herbal tea on the end,; however everyone agreed this reminds them of candy Pixy Stix.

Finish: warm on the top of the palate, almost has an MGP finish profile.

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ncbs honeybadger2.jpg
New Riff Distilling
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On 28 December 2019, the NCBS Barrel Selection Team made there second trip to the day at New Riff Distilling Co. (DSP-KY-20016) in Newport, KY. 

Just like last year, New Riff Distilling presented the NCBS selection team with eleven solid four-year-old, Sour Mash Bourbon barrels to choose from. From those eleven, the team had to use the distiller notes to narrow down the selection option to five barrels. The vote to get 

down to five barrels was fairly consistent across the group. However, the blind tasting from the ten person selection team returned mixed results; everyone had a different favorite. There were three barrels that everyone agreed had a great range of flavors. We did a second blind sampling of those three and the notes on the winner are below.  Enjoy!

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2019 New Riff Pick Team
2019 New Riff Pick Team

Barrel# 15-6529

Proof: 112.3

Barreled: 7 December 2015

Bottled: 16 January 2020

Named: Came in Like A Wrecking Ball

Nose: notes of floral, robust toasted oak and a hint of melon.

Palate: great-heavy mouth feel, creamy, cocoa,

with hints of smoke or earthiness. 

Finish: smooth, walks away then a small punch of toasted oak.

2019 New Riff Sam's Pick
AH Signing
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