Anyone who keeps a finger on the pulse of the bourbon industry should know about the Bardstown Bourbon Company. This relative new-comer to the Kentucky Bourbon Trail, which is the first Napa Valley-style distillery on the trail, has been getting a lot of press lately with the release of its first bourbons: the Fusion and Discovery Series.
The Bardstown Bourbon Company sits on 100 acres of farmland in the heart of Bourbon Country and prides itself on being one of the most modern and technologically-advanced distilleries in the country. They have assembled an experienced and talented team of individuals to create “a new blend of Bourbon Makers, pushing the boundaries through innovation, while honoring the traditional art of making whiskey.” You can find out more information about the distillery here.
In addition to producing its own products, the Distillery produces nearly 40 different mash bills and has pioneered a Collaborative Distilling Program, whereby it produces custom bourbon, rye, and whiskey for numerous other distilleries including Jefferson’s, High West, Belle Meade, and Hirsch, just to name a few.
The Company released its Fusion Series #1 and Discovery Series #1 earlier this year, and both are set to be sold California, Florida, Indiana, Kentucky, and Tennessee. The Company is also currently producing a 9 year-old Tennessee whiskey that is finished for 19 months in Phifer Pavitt Cabernet Sauvignon barrels.
*Disclaimer – these samples were provided to me free of charge by the distiller; however, this did not impact my review of these products.
Bardstown Bourbon Company Fusion Series #1
The Fusion Series #1 is the company’s first Kentucky straight bourbon whiskey and is a blend of 60% of the distillery’s two year-old wheated and high-rye Kentucky bourbons, along with 40% of an 11 year-old sourced Kentucky bourbon. This bourbon comes in at 98.9 proof (49.45% abv) and retails for $59.99.
Appearance – amber.
Nose – the nose is full of layers of vanilla, oak, rye spice, brown sugar, and a touch of nutmeg.
Palate – this bourbon is also soft on the palate, but a sharp rye spice develops quickly and ushers in notes of roasted pecans, rich caramel, milk chocolate, and some baking spice, mainly clove and nutmeg.
Finish – the finish is medium-long and pleasantly dry. That sharp rye spice definitely lingers, along with vanilla, toasted grain, a slight nuttiness, and a touch of golden honey.
Bardstown Bourbon Company Discovery Series #1
The Discovery Series #1 is a blend of four Kentucky straight bourbons aged between five and 13 years: 5% of the blend is a 13 year-old bourbon; 75% is an 11 year-old bourbon; 10% is a 10 year-old bourbon; and 10% is a 5 year-old bourbon. All of the bourbons in the blend were sourced from unknown distilleries in Kentucky and were made from similar mash bills with corn in the range of 74-78%, rye at 12-18%, and malted barley at 8-12%. This bourbon comes in at 121.21 proof (60.605% abv) and retails for $129.99.
Appearance – dark caramel.
Nose – the nose is soft and delicate, but full of flavor and worthy of your patience. I found rye spice, a touch of ethanol, oak, some baking spice, bubble gum, and a few muted herbal notes on the back end.
Palate – this bourbon has a viscous, oily consistency on the palate. A sharp spice develops quickly and there is really minimal burn, despite the high alcohol content. Ultimately, the spice and heat really work well together here. I also found heavy vanilla, cinnamon, oak char, dried fruit, and more of those sweet bubble gum notes. I also think its worth noting that with a few drops of water this bourbon became surprisingly sweet on the palate.
Finish – this bourbon really coats your mouth and provides a long, spicy finish. The rye spice remains strong, along with oak char, tobacco, some clove, and a few hints of dried golden fruit.
Let me begin by saying these are both delicious bourbons! They are both flavorful and complex, and both really do a great job of showcasing some of the individual flavors from each bourbon used in the blend. With some blended expressions, particularly those made from contrasting whiskeys, I often find that the proportions can be off and the pour doesn’t really feel balanced. That is absolutely not the case with these two expressions.
In the end, the Discovery Series was the winner here. The Fusion Series definitely had some of the flavors I love (particularly the rye spice and nutty notes), but the Discovery Series had more depth of flavor and really kept me coming back for more. I think I tasted this bottle 3 times in total to prepare this review and I kept finding more complexity with each tasting. It is really hard for me to overlook that when comparing these expressions.
In terms of overall ratings, I give the Discovery Series a 90/100 (mainly due to the price tag being a little high) and the Fusion Series a 88/100.
There is no doubt that the Bardstown Bourbon Company is producing some delicious bourbon right out of the gate and they are doing it in style! If these first expressions are any indication of the types of products we can expect from this Distillery, there is definitely a lot to look forward to in the near future. Personally, I can’t wait to get back up to Kentucky to visit the Distillery and taste more of their delicious whiskey!