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  • Writer's pictureJoseph Bourbon

Calumet Farm 8-Year

As you near Keeneland Racetrack west of downtown Lexington, you can't miss the iconic Calumet Farm. Calumet Farm Bourbon pays homage to this picturesque and storied racing farm.

Rescued from the Auction Block

The racing farm Calumet Farm traces its roots to 1924 when William Wright, owner of Calumet Baking Powder, purchased the site and began developing a racing dynasty. For 30 years, the farm consistently produced Kentucky Derby winners, including Whirlaway (1941), Pensive (1944), Citation (1948), Ponder (1949), Hill Gail (1952), Iron Liege (1957), Tim Tam (1958), and Forward Pass (1968). Whirlaway and Citation went on to sweeping the Triple Crown in thoroughbred racing.

Throughout the 1970s and 1980s, the farm's breeding stock declined, and in 1990, the premiere stud Alydars passed, leading the farm into bankruptcy and a stock dispersal in 1992. Successful entrepreneur Henryk de Kwiatkowski rushed to the Bluegrass and purchased the historic site. Kwiatkowski was born in Poland and escaped to England early in World War II to join the RAF. Following the war, he worked as an engineer for Pratt & Whitney before launching Kwiatkowski Aircraft, amassing a fortune leasing aircraft.

Western Spirits, whose brands include Lexington Bourbon, Bird Dog Whiskey, and the Calumet Farm line, is the bottler listed on the label, indicating that they have used sourced products. In 2017, Western Spirits joined Bardstown Bourbon Company's Collaborative Distilling Program. Together, they'll work together to produce custom whiskey for the brand portfolio.

At eight years of age, the bourbon we'll be sampling is still sourced. We will keep an eye on this brand, as BBC is currently distilling 40 unique mash bills and has access to scores of different yeast cultures. BBC has consistently put together some finewhiskeys in their Fusion series.

The Tasting

The label shares that this is a small batch bourbon crafted from less than 50 barrels and is batch CA8Y09. The oval-shaped bottle is printed with the Calumet Farm name and bears a sketch of their iconic coupola. Note that the packaging for this particular expression from Calumet Farm has changed, and is now in a tall wine-like bottle sporting an antiqued paper label, which I personally feel has improved the overall look.

It is labeled as 8 years-old, indicating the youngest barrel(s) used have been aged for at least 8 years. The finished product is bottled at 90 proof. The label further discloses the mash bill is 74% corn, 18% rye, and 8% malted barley. A friend snagged this bottle at a warehouse store for $45.

Eye: Golden honey. Several short and thick legs are visible in the Glencairn glass.

Nose: Honey and vanilla along with some very light citrus notes. This is incredibly light for the age statement.

Palate: More honey and vanilla are at the front of the palate, along with some fruit notes and baking spices.

Finish: A burst of fruit and vanilla followed quickly by a long finish of oak and baking spices.

Overall: Not bad ... but also not incredible, either. To me, it's rather meh; it's ok - just not really special or unique. I’ll be watching this to see how Bardstown Bourbon Company enhances or improves Western Spirits lineup.

While this attractive bottle is certainly suitable for a racing party, for the price point though, I'd rather enjoy a pour of Rare Breed or Woodford Reserve Double Oaked,

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