Brand: Barrell Craft Spirits

Origin: Hampden Estate, Wakefield, Trelawny Parish, Jamaica

Still: Pot

Age: 8 years

Finish: ex-Bourbon & ex-Islay whisky

ABV: 66.4%

For the last decade, Barrell Craft Spirits has been making a name for themselves as blenders of primarily bourbons, ryes, and other whiskies. The Louisville-based firm sources whiskies from distilleries all over the country, creating artful releases enjoyed by enthusiasts. Alongside whiskey, Barrell also has bottled batches of sourced rums, using the same blending skills that have made their other releases successful.

In 2016, Barrell bottled their first of such rum releases: Batch 001. This was an all-Jamaican (Hampden Estate) blend, consisting of cask strength, 7 year old pot still rum, entirely tropically aged in ex-Bourbon barrels. After bottling, a portion of this Batch 001 was put into casks hailing from the famed Scottish island of Islay– well-known for their peaty style of Scotch whisky. Thus, a legend was born.

Stock shot of Barrell Tale of Two Islands bottle
Bottle of Barrell Tale of Two Islands, credit: Barrell Craft Spirits

Barrell Tale of Two Islands is a marriage of two different kinds of funk, and as it is named, tries to weave together an experience born of the islands of Jamaica and Islay. After the Batch 001 release, this rum spend an additional year in an Islay scotch cask to take on the notes of the peaty whisky, bringing the age statement to 8 years in total. It was bottled in Kentucky at a strength of 66.4% ABV.

This sample was provided to me by Mike Hooker, head of the Austin Rum Society and fellow /r/rum reviewer. Thanks Mike!


Honey gold, low viscosity


Caramelized oranges, cherry cough drops, overripe grapes and blueberries, grilled pineapple, rotten banana peel, ink, freshly-cut wood


Rotting tropical fruits (banana, pineapple, orange, jackfruit, mango, blueberries), milk-logged cereal, menthol, nutmeg, peat smoke


Long, complex, smoky; sour grapes, mango, jackfruit, lingering ethanol, malted barley, peat smoke, cardemom, oak

Rating: 8/10


Alright, wow; I understand why this is such a prolific release after tasting this. The combination of rum and cask really creates an intense and unique experience.

The nose is mostly Hampden, distinct and full of fruit in various states of decay. The cherry cough drop note may be a combination of the smokey Islay cask and a particular element of the Hampden rum. Upon sipping, you're truly bombarded with all sorts of rotting fruit, leading to a flavor that reminded me of cereal that has been sitting in milk too long, followed with menthol, nutmeg, and peat smoke. The flavors trail off into a long, complex finish that summarizes the nose and palate, but really shows the cask influence, with sour grapes, jackfruit, and mango dancing with malted barley, peat smoke, and bright cardemom.

What a great rum that ties together "acquired tastes" across two spirits categories. After trying some peated whisky cask-finished rums from other producers, this is by far the best presentation of this style of finishing, and sets the standard. Great work from the folks at Barrell for this release.

Further Reading