I first heard of this beer when I read the menu for the recent All-Ireland Craft Beer Festival at the RDS in Dublin, and since then, I've been seeing it everywhere. I hadn't heard very much about it, except that it was very bourbon-y, so I finally decided to try it out.
Kentucky Bourbon Barrel Ale pours a clear, dark amber with a small head and on the nose, I have to say I agree with the above description. Whiskey is all I can really take from the aroma, and it's dominant to the point of being one-dimensional. There are suggestions of perhaps some herbal qualities, but even these are just byproducts of the bourbon mess. The taste is more or less the same, with the whiskey opening turning into a slightly fruity but really just sugary middle, before reverting to whiskey for the finish. Once again, I tried to pull some spice or perhaps ginger from the flavour, but I reckon I was being a bit ambitious.
In other reviews, I've heard vanilla was in there somewhere. Not at all the case on my tasting, though I do have to admit this one was probably doomed from the start. I don't drink whiskey, I don't like whiskey, and I don't know whiskey. I imagine this would be a much more approachable beer to the bourbon drinker.
That being said, I've had bourbon barrel-aged stuff before and it was never so one-dimensional. As such, I still don't think I could bring myself to recommend this to the beer explorer, even as a curiosity.
The Destrier does not approve.