One of the newest additions to the Kentucky Bourbon Trail is the Bardstown Bourbon Company. While relatively new to the scene, they bring a wealth of talent to the operations, anchored by John Hargrove and Steve Nally. Nally’s extensive experience includes 40 years in the spirits industry in addition to serving as the former Master Distiller at Maker’s Mark.
Ground was broken in 2014 in Bardstown, sporting a focus on transparency, characterized by open spaces and clear glass to highlight the art and science of whiskey manufacturing. The focus was to produce a “Napa Valley” style campus, including educational experiences, quality tours and tastings, as well as an event space and restaurant. Bardstown Bourbon Company boasts 40 unique mash bills and has been the quiet partner to many brands in the industry, including Jefferson, High West, Belle Meade, Hirsch, Calumet, James E. Pepper, Cyrus Noble, and a host of others.
With their own production beginning in 2016, their value proposition is unique – to provide craft distillers and brand owners high quality whiskeys to strengthen their supply. By working with a team of whiskey experts, new brands can create their own authentic and innovative Kentucky whiskey products. Craft brands could also ensure a consistent, high quality production that can rapidly be scaled. There is even access to the financing of new fill barrel production and aging.
The tall graceful bottle is the 3rd in their Fusion Series, displaying a spiderweb design on the back that carries through to the frontside. Bottled at 98.9 proof, the label also shares that this is a blend of 3 bourbons:
40% 13-year 74% corn, 18% rye, 8% malted barley 18% 3-year 68% corn, 20% wheat, 12% malted barley 42% 3-year 60% corn, 36% rye, 4% malted barley
The blend uses 60% of Bardstown Bourbon Company’s three-year-old wheated and high-rye bourbons along with an older, sourced bourbon (likely from nearby neighbor, Heaven Hill) to create a smooth and complex pour.
From the website, we’re expecting a smooth and complex pour that is a fusion between youthful and aged bourbon … Green apple with honey join roasted nuts and caramel. These disparate profiles are unified on the first sip, coating the palate and finishing with extraordinary balance. I found this for about $58 at a large Kentucky liquor chain, though I’ve seen it throughout the Midwest, as well. Let’s see how it tastes…
Eye: Deep amber with slender, spiderwebbed legs in my Kentucky Bourbon Trail tasting glass.
Nose: Caramel and butterscotch notes, laced with light floral essences – like apple blossoms.
Palate: Smooth and slippery with butterscotch, caramel and honeycrisp apple. A lovely balanced sensation. This is quite good.
Finish: Medium-to-long, with butterscotch and floral blossoms followed by a dollop of warming spice at the end.
Overall: This is quite lovely. There’s a good deal of complexity without any one note being overpowering. For just barely sub-100 proof, you’ll find a fair amount of heat on the backend, but not alcohol heat – it’s definitely the peppery spice from the high-rye whiskey making up the largest portion of the batch. I love finding butterscotch essences and the apple blossom notes were a nice addition. At nearly $60, this places the Fusion Series at similar price-points as the Old Forester Whiskey Row & Statesman brands, Woodford Reserve’s Double Oaked, and Four Roses Small Batch Select.
I’ll continue to look forward to some of Bardstown Bourbon Company’s future Fusion releases. Master Distillers John Hargrove and Steve Nally have put together a high-quality blend!