Nulu French Oak Finished #C289 112.8 Proof "Gucci Oak" Single Barrel Bourbon - Selected by Bourbon Enthusiast & Seelbach's
Age: 5.5 Years
Mash Bill: 60/36/4 Corn/Rye/Malted Barley
Finish: 1 Month in French Oak Barrels
Tasting Notes: The nose is maple cream with toasted wood sugars, French toast, and cherry drizzle. The palate is rich and silky! Nice, oaky sweetness gives way to notes of maple syrup, milk chocolate, and a hint of cherry. Mocha cream with delicious, toasted vanilla bean on the finish.
Story: I know you're asking "what the heck is Gucci Oak". It was the same thing I asked when selecting this barrel. I told Chase Hazelbaker from Nulu that we didn't need another toasted French Oak barrel. We already had the Small Batch that I loved. He responded, "this is a Gucci oak barrel. You should try it first." No, the Italian luxury high-end fashion brand didn't start making barrels. It was a colloquialism for the high-end Tight Grain Select (TGS) barrel used. This lead me down a rabbit hole of wood grain and it's effect on a bourbon finish. Is TGS worth the extra cost? The short answer is yes, you can taste a difference in the bourbon. As to how it's different, I've added a longer answer below.
From Radoux: TIGHT GRAIN SELECT (TGS) Due to the Tight Grain, the oak extraction is much slower than the Medium Grain barrels and is recommended for any aging in barrels for 12-24 months; Tight Grain has more aromatics & less oak tannin than Medium Grain.
The grain, or growth ring of the wood is inseparable from the quality of French oak.
The grain corresponds to the average width of the growth ring of the tree : the smaller it is, the tighter the grain. Each piece of timber is therefore selected according to its grain and is assigned a specific quality corresponding to a particular product within the range. Extreme tightness of the grain will give wine a great aromatic complexity, a delicate structure, and fine and soft tannins, which will be released gradually during the aging process. As a result of research which highlighted the prominence of grain over origin, Radoux was quick to integrate this into the selection of its wood, and created, back in the 1990s, the first barrel to be made from a blend of forest origin sorted by extra-tight grain oak : the Super Fine Blend.