Launched at the end of March, Stellum Spirits is a new venture from the folks behind Barrell Craft Spirits. Stellum’s whiskeys, like those produced by BCS, are sourced and sold at cask strength. But unlike the ever-changing, batch-centric model favored by BCS, Stellum’s line-up manifests simply as Stellum Bourbon and Stellum Rye, with simple branding that matches their more minimalist business model.
However, that’s not to say that Stellum’s spirits are ordinary. Stellum Bourbon, which is distilled in Kentucky, Tennessee, and Indiana, is bottled at 114.98 proof, and its rye, which is distilled only in Indiana, weighs in at 115.24 proof.
How do these heavy-hitters measure up? We’ll evaluate both below.
Stellum Bourbon Review
The bourbon pours a bright, cherrywood-red and has a nose that features the expected oak heat and vanilla, in addition to pears, prunes, green apple, and a heavy helping of brown sugar.
At the start, it’s surprisingly light on the palate and mild in heat considering that cask-strength ABV. Flavors on the palate are bright, fruity, and sweet, beginning with green apple and pears until we take an astringent turn at the center that turns to brambles and raspberries. Afterward, we hit the oak vein where spice and vanilla begin to flow, along with brown sugar, cinnamon and ginger. The dry finish is loaded with oak spice and cinnamon before leisurely fizzling out to a final, rewarding note of pie crust that left me with a lasting impression of a perfectly juicy apple pie complemented by brown sugar and ginger.
It’s both light and spicy, a deliciously fruity bourbon that remains agile despite its proof. I’d consider it a warm invitation to anyone looking to take the cask-strength bourbon plunge.
— 57.49% ABV
Stellum Rye Review
The rye pours a bright but deep bronze, and its nose is characterized by fresh spearmint, peaches, honey and ginger. It starts light-to-medium in body with a surprisingly light and juicy sweetness typified by peaches before moving on to plum and then more astringent raspberries. The middle is all spearmint, and following that distinctive note, we at last tap into the vein of spice you’d expect from a 116.24 proof spirit that’s so far been subtle.
When that spice does hit, it’s a geyser, and we’re shot to the top with pleasurable notes of dry oak, cinnamon and ginger. That the spice factor at the finish stays so strong for so long is remarkable in and of itself, and once it finally begins to relax its grip on the tongue we’re put out to pasture with a redux of cool spearmint plus a sweeter note of peaches in syrup.
Like Stellum’s bourbon, it feels as if the spirit is acting as a delicious mold-breaker. Yes, this is a rye whiskey, but no oaky vanilla bomb. Instead it’s far more interesting thanks to its pronounced flavors of peach, fresh spearmint, and sweet, juicy fruit, all of which come coupled to ample, full-bore spice to remind you that it is, after all, a rye.
— 58.12% AB