Stave Projects | Review

Belle Meade Honey Stave Project

Last updated Feb 7, 2021 | Published on Nov 6, 2020

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by Matty Sims

If you haven’t already, check out my first toasted stave project — Michter’s Toasted Stave Project (ft. Beyond Barrels). With the success of this project, I decided to embark on a second project — Belle Meade Honey Project. The Michter’s Toasted Stave post details why most aging projects aren’t successful and why Beyond Barrels staves work (hint: it’s all about high-quality wood).

A friend from my local bourbon group stood in line for hours and got a bottle of Belle Meade Honey and was gracious enough to share a sample. That got us thinking. Could we recreate a similar flavor profile with a toasted stave? Well felt like it was worth a try so we roped in another friend and so started the Belle Meade Honey Project.

Related: Every Belle Meade Bourbon Reviewed

Start shopping for bourbon clothing and accessories for your journey. The Bard’s Shop has custom tees and hoodies, books, barrels, and more.

The Belle Meade Honey Project Methodology and Timeline

Belle Mead Honey Project Samples

  • We purchased four bottles of Belle Meade Cask Strength (two of these bottles came from sister barrels)
  • We purchased local, organic honey from the Greenville Honey Company
  • We purchased three staves from Beyond Barrels (now closed)— Toast Level 3, Toast Level 4, and Toast Level 5 (4 and 5 are not currently available to the public — I got them directly from the owner. But Toast Level 3 has consistently produced the best results between both projects in my opinion).
  • On March 25, 2020, all three toasted staves entered the honey and stayed put until April 26th (see the photo below)
  • On April 26, 2020, the staves were removed from the honey and moved into three separate bottles of Belle Meade Cask Strength.
  • The staves stayed in the Belle Meade Cash Strength bourbon until October 25, 2020 — for a total of 6 months.
  • During that time, I did tasting regularly to assess progress (roughly .50 oz each time), and I did three main tastings with 1 oz each. The results of those tastings are below.
  • The results did not disappoint.

You can see in the photo below that we’ve bottled these in minis and created our own label to share with friends. We plan on doing a final blind tasting with these three — plus bottles of Belle Meade Cask Strength and Belle Meade Honey from 2020. I will update this post when that happens.

Belle Meade Honey Cask Strength Tasting (May 23, 2020)

Belle Meade Honey Cask Strength 2

Belle Meade Honey Cask Strength – Toast Level 5

  • More muted nose, cornbread, and honey.
  • Very subtle sweetness. Charred oak on the palate with savory sweetness.
  • Long finish — the best finish

Belle Meade Honey Cask Strength – Toast Level 4

  • More complex balanced nose — best nose.
  • Charred oak on the palate with savory sweetness.
  • Medium finish.

Belle Meade Honey Cask Strength – Toast Level 3

  • Sweet on nose and palate
  • Fiery long finish.
  • Best palate.

Belle Meade Honey Cask Strength Tasting (August 20, 2020)

Belle Meade Honey Cask Strength

Belle Meade Honey Cask Strength – Toast Level 5

Belle Meade Honey Cask Strength Toast 3 is phenomenal. Great nose. Honey more pronounced. Sweet berry and full-bodied. Black pepper. Good balance. Medium finish.

Belle Meade Honey Cask Strength – Toast Level 4

Belle Meade Honey Cask Strength Toast 4 similar nose but oakier in best way possible. Caramel. Toasted marshmallow. Just hints of sweet. More Sichuan pepper that’s a slow tingle and some savory baking spices. This one has sweets but more spices mixed in and long finish.

Belle Meade Honey Cask Strength – Toast Level 3

Belle Meade Honey Cask Strength Toast3 is brown sugar. Honey. Buttery pie crust. The palate is a mix of the other two. Long peppery finish.

Belle Meade Honey Cask Strength Tasting (October 26, 2020)

Belle Meade Honey Cask Strength

Belle Meade Honey Cask Strength – Toast Level 5

Belle Meade Honey Cask Strength Glass & Color

Light clove honey. Thick and oily dripping down my Glencairn whiskey glass.

Nose – 91 Points

You can smell the proof but it’s wrapped in a bouquet of flavors. I get a dark honey-drenched baklava with pronounced cinnamon and baking spice. And hints of dark plums and cherries.

Taste – 95 Points

Baking spice and black pepper are the first sensations then it smooths out into rich, dark, honey with a long tingling spice and tart red fruit.

Finish – 96 Points

The finish is long with complex and balanced honey and Szechuan pepper.

Verdict – Gold 94 out of 100 Points


The phenomenal interplay between the spice and sweet. The honey is a major player.

Belle Meade Honey Cask Strength – Toast Level 4

Belle Meade Honey Cask Strength Glass & Color

Light clove honey. Thick and oily dripping down my Glencairn whiskey glass.

Nose – 93 Points

Jalapeño cornbread drizzled in honey and sprinkled with toasted baking spice.

Taste – 94 Points

It’s more of a slow, round spice at the front that tingles your tongue but quickly gives way to dark red fruits and honey and caramel then toasted baking spice runs down the top of the palate and drips sweet honey through the finish. It’s got a great chew. This bourbon isn’t as spice forward.

Finish – 93 Points

It’s a long finish but again the spice isn’t as pronounced. It’s a more subtle dance between the baking spice and honey. I also get a hint of walnut fudge brownies.

Verdict – Gold 93 out of 100 Points


There was more consistency throughout the drinking experience but that means fewer highs as well. It was a pleasurable drinking experience and I was surprised I scored A better.

Belle Meade Honey Cask Strength – Toast Level 3

Belle Meade Honey Cask Strength Glass & Color

Light clove honey. Thick and oily dripping down my Glencairn whiskey glass.

Nose – 96 Points

Fig jam and honey on toast. Cinnamon. Simple flavors but I’m in love.

Taste – 92 Points

Jalapeño fig preserves — this one has the most heat. It fills the mouth then rounds out with the honey sweetness you’d expect. I also get some very subtle floral notes and cardamom.

Finish – 96 Points

Another long finish. The finish has honey, floral, and cardamom notes with black pepper and oak.

Verdict – Gold 95 out of 100 Points

This one presented the most unusual flavors with floral and cardamom notes. My guess is the spice is more present because of the lighter toast. The true winner with this was the finish.

Start shopping for bourbon clothing and accessories for your journey. The Bard’s Shop has custom tees and hoodies, books, barrels, and more.

Written by Matty Sims

Matty Sims is the Editor-in-Chief at a digital media company. LeAnn (his wife) and his daughters Claire, Maddy, and Adele along with a brand new pup Booker live in Taylors, SC, at the foot of the Blue Ridge Mountains. He enjoys cracking a well-aged bottle of bourbon with friends and sharing stories, or cracking one of his favorite daily sippers on the back porch while the pup and his kids play in the backyard. He is a storyteller at heart, and Bourbon has deep roots in storytelling.
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Comments

3 Comments

  1. Russ

    BIN

    Reply
    • Matty Sims

      I got a sample with your name on it.

      Reply
  2. Gavin G

    sounds good cheers

    Reply

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