Editor’s Note: These whiskeys were provided to us as review samples by Bardstown Bourbon Company. This in no way, per our editorial policies, influenced the final outcome of this review. It should also be noted that by clicking the buy link towards the bottom of this review our site receives a small referral payment which helps to support, but not influence, our editorial and other costs.
Trying to keep up with developments at Bardstown Bourbon Company (BBC) can make your head spin. It was founded in 2014 by Peter Loftin and does significant business custom distilling for brands such as High West and collaborations with brands such as the Prisoner Wine Company. After less than a decade in business, it was announced that private equity firm Pritzker Private Capital was purchasing the distillery.
Today a massive expansion is in the works: just this spring, the company announced plans to increase their distilling capacity by 50%, or 55,000 barrels, with a nearly 30 million dollar expansion. BBC just finalized the purchase of Green River Distilling Co. in July 2022, one of Kentucky’s original distilleries, which reopened in 2020 after restoration by Ron and Jacob Call. Whew!
We’ll be exploring their Discovery Series today, which is all about their blending abilities. BBC notes that the Series “showcases the art of blending hand-selected, supremely aged bourbon… to explore all of the ways you can take whiskey in new directions through thoughtful blending that pushes the boundaries of what’s been done before.”
These are wild combinations that, on paper, look like someone made punch. Razzing aside, over the years the distillery has released blends that feature their 3-year-old house whiskey, as well as whiskies from Kentucky, Indiana, Tennessee, and Oh, Canada.
The Bardstown Bourbon Company Discovery Series #8 Blended Whiskey is a blend of mostly Kentucky bourbon, with a dash of Canadian corn whisky, and two high-rye Indiana whiskies, begging the question of whether MGP was involved (the horror! Just kidding, they make delicious whiskey). Since laying out the full technical specifications is beyond the scope of this review of their “most complex creation to date,” please find those here. It is thus far the only in the Discover Series to be finished with staves.
In a first for the Discovery Series, the Bardstown Bourbon Company Discovery Series #9 Blended Whiskey “is structured around” barrels of craft Georgia bourbon, which implies to me that this is the main component. BBC described the Georgia bourbon as offering a “unique, elegant flavor,” as well as 17-year-old Tennessee whiskey, Kentucky bourbon, and Canadian whisky. We’re left to guess where the Georgian bourbon was sourced, but here’s a fun list if you want to place bets.
Tasting Notes: Bardstown Bourbon Company Discovery Series #8 Blended Whiskey
Vital Stats: A blend of a six-, a seven-, and two 12-year-old whiskies finished with staves of double toast French oak, spice rack, high vanilla, Rioja, and charred barrel, 57.05% ABV, mash bill: corn, rye, and malted barley, SRP $139.99/ 750ml bottle.
Appearance: This is golden yellow-brown in color with an undertone of saffron.
Nose: The aromatics on the nose border on savory and earthy. I pick up notes of over-steeped black tea, fry oil, Red Hots, and cantaloupe rind. The chemical notes remind me of freshly laid asphalt. There’s a touch of sliced yellow apples and brown bread. It’s pleasant with a splash of homemade root beer in the background.
Palate: Creamy and voluptuous on the palate with notes of ripe yellow pears, black tea, cinnamon gum and burnt maple sugar. It builds to a pleasant sting as it sits on the tongue. There are notes of toasted brown bread dusted with cinnamon sugar on the finish as it slowly evaporates. It has a sweetness that’s not just oaky and a suggestion of warm rye spice. It’s hefty, earthy, and sweet without being saccharine.
Tasting Notes: Bardstown Bourbon Company Discovery Series #9 Blended Whiskey
Vital Stats: A blend of Georgia bourbon, Kentucky bourbon, 17-year-old Tennessee whiskey, and Canadian whisky, 56.25% ABV, mash bill: various, SRP $139.99/ 750ml bottle.
Appearance: This is golden yellow-brown and just a shade darker than the other.
Nose: On the nose, I pick up notes of fruit chutney, cinnamon sticks, dried mango, and dried herbs. It tastes more mature and more spice-driven than its sibling.
Palate: Sweeter and more peppery than its sibling, this is amped up and ready to party. It offers a dash of honey, ginger, and turmeric alongside a more tannic and less viscous mouthfeel. The Tennessee whiskey seems to come out more on the palate, offering notes of dark honey and molasses.
While the #8 is intriguing, and per the distillery their “most complex” release, I found myself more interested in sipping the #9, described by BBC as “robust, vibrant, one-of-a-kind.” These are both very good, and pacified my skepticism about the seemingly randomness of the blends. All I’m left to wonder about is what concoction they’ll throw together next.