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  • Writer's pictureJoseph Bourbon

Calumet Farm Small Batch 2024

In 2022, Calumet Farm rebranded their packaging from squat, shouldered-bottles with etched labeling to tall bottles highlighting their Legacy release. Today, we take a look at this non-producing distiller with their latest small batch bourbon - Calumet Farm Bourbon Small Batch that contains a blend of 15 and 8 year-old bourbons.



Western Spirits Beverage Company


I featured this bourbon in a Best Horse Racing Bourbons article as well as a full review here and their prior Small Batch release. Calumet Farms bourbon is released by the Western Spirits Beverage Company that includes the Bird Dog Whiskey and Lexington Bourbon (adorned with the horse Lexington) brands. 


Western Spirits is a NPD (non-producing distiller), meaning it sources its bourbons from other distilleries, blends them, and packages the resulting bourbon. On a tour of Bardstown Bourbon Company, I noticed some of their other releases were prominently displayed in the gift shop and available for purchase. One often wonders what distillery actually produces the bourbon. There are a limited number of distilleries with sufficient old stocks of bourbon that would be available for blending. 


Often, I’d look to BBC’s nearby neighbor in Bardstown, Heaven Hill. The mash bill, however, can also be a telltale sign of origin. In this case, it points towards another possible source - Barton 1792.


The Calumet Farm brand pays homage to the Calumet Farm, adjacent to Keeneland Racetrack in Lexington, Kentucky and home to a slew of Kentucky Derby winners. For three decades, the farm produced Derby champions, such as 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 sweep the Triple Crown in their respective years. The farm fell on tough times in the subsequent years, facing a liquidation and bankruptcy, only to rise again from the ashes.  



The Tasting     

          

The label shares that this is a small batch bourbon crafted from a blend of 15 year-old and 8 year-old bourbon, with no indication as to the ratio of barrels of each. The website, however, shares that the blend is a mixture of 50 barrels of each vintage.


The mash bill is 74% corn, 18% rye, and 8% malted barley. The finished product is bottled at 86 proof. The packaging has improved from some of the early releases, with a sepia and green-toned tall bottle.


Eye:  Amber with evenly-spaced, thin legs on the inside of my Glencairn glass.


Nose: Fruit (peach) and vanilla - not quite what I was expecting from a blend of older bourbons. 


Palate: A burst of peach, followed by spice, oak, and brown sugar streusel topping. This is warming and silky smooth, without being overly oaked - something that can happen with well-aged bourbons. If this is from Barton 1792, its typical tropical banana notes are absent.

 

Finish: Long and drying, with light oak char balanced with the sweeter notes.


Overall: Not bad. This is well-blended and very smooth - kudos to the team at Bardstown Bourbon Company. However, with its lower proof, this is one to probably enjoy neat, as I fear the low 86-proof would be overwhelmed and washed out with ice or in a cocktail. 


I appreciate the disclosure of the mash bill, but it would be interesting to see more transparency present as to the makeup of the 15 and 8-year blend. In theory, it could be 1 15-year barrel and 1,000 8-year barrels - that’s the ambiguity offered by the phrase “small batch”. Ultimately, the packaging may be the best part for a conversation starter or presentation in your collection. From a flavor profile, I’d lean towards some other bourbons from BBC including their Fusion and Origin Series that offer more interesting notes.

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