Armida began as an experiment, trying to make a dream whiskey come to fruition: What flavors and aromas are we most excited to find in bourbon? Where in the world of spirits do those flavors exist? Can we finish and blend whiskeys to tease the subtle flavors we are looking for from the edges of perception into the forefront? More than a year later we find ourselves with a whiskey with subtle hints of spice and orchard fruit we chase in bourbons amplified into balance and power we have never found before.
Armida is a blend of three Straight Bourbon Whiskeys finished separately in Pear Brandy, Jamaican Rum, and Sicilian Amaro Casks. The ripe, floral pear notes provide a soft entrance into a whiskey that is adorned with hints of spice and arid citrus derived from the Amaro casks (and also the toasty bourbon itself). This mélange of flavor is framed by the tropical sweetness found in rum finished whiskeys. Armida is a journey for the palate: from a brisk northern orchard to an ancient island, it ends up exactly where we intended, with an immensely complex and satisfying whiskey.
While constructing the blend for this whiskey, Joe was taken by how nostalgic some of the combinations of flavors were. Joe’s mother’s family had a farm in the northeast where he would often spend time in the summer and autumn. These brisk, orchard fruit memories inspired many of the first test blends and so, Joe named the project after his mother’s formal name, Armida.
Appearance - Bright gold with a pale rim.
Nose - Opens with creamy and sweet notes of carrot cake, dulce de leche, and chestnut honey. The pear brandy’s influence inflects the core aroma, with poached pear leading blackberry and dried lime peel. Shimmering at the edges are countless herbs and dusty spices. Notes familiar to Sicilian amari, such as fennel seed, aniseed, nutmeg, and cacao are there. As Sicily was once part of the Duchy of Savoy licorice, wormwood and chamomile are encountered here, in Savoy’s tradition of genepy and absinthe.
Palate - Lush sweetness is kept in check by some sandy tannin and high strength. Here, the rum takes center stage, with blackstrap molasses, sambuca, and olive brine arriving first. The rich dark character builds with date and chipotle leading into pipe tobacco and walnut. The amaro is never far behind, exhibiting licorice root, gentian, green cardamom and kola nut.
Finish - Green almond enriches an otherwise dry finish of black tea and slate.
With a few drops of spring water:
Even more herbal complexity arises, notably clove, tonka bean, catnip and sassafras. With the heat in check, the full sweetness of the palate reveals maple syrup, candied ginger, and chicory coffee. The finish grows juicier, with bright grenadine fading to juniper berry.
Barrell Armida was included on Maxim’s list of The Best New American Whiskeys of 2020, noting that the unique blend creates a “complex whiskey that pairs ripe, floral pear notes with hints of spice and citrus.”
Barrell Armida was recently reviewed by Drew Beard of Drinkhacker, who described the palate as “bold and rich with a rock candy sweetness that turns more brown sugar and molasses as it evolves.”
Bourbon Culture reviews Barrell Armida, saying, "Barrell Armida will challenge and reward your senses with a wide array of flavors and aromas not typically found in bourbons or ryes."
Breaking Bourbon reviews Barrell Armida saying "As you journey through this whiskey from its aroma to its palate and finally to its finish, you realize it’s on an entirely different level ... Such a complex and unexpected combination of flavors it will challenge even the most experienced whiskey drinkers."
Adventures in Whiskey reviewed Armida, describing the “playfulness between the crisp orchard fruit and the herbal and rum-like qualities,” and declaring that Armida “excels in its development of flavors.”
Barrell Armida is included on Uproxx’s list of The Best Bottles Of Bourbon Whiskey Between $100-$125, where it was described as having a “super clear pear note that is so pear, you’ll think you’re about to eat a perfectly ripe one.”
Robb Report lists Armida as one of The 11 Best Cask-Finished American Whiskeys
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