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  • Writer's pictureJoseph Bourbon

Calumet Farm Small Batch revisited

Calumet Farm, located close to Keeneland Racetrack in Lexington, Kentucky. Spanning nearly 800 acres in the Bluegrass, this farm has produced Kentucky Derby winners 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 from the Kentucky Derby to sweep thoroughbred racing’s Triple Crown. Calumet Farm Small Batch pays tribute to this farm’s high standards for America’s most exciting two minutes.

New Look and Transparency

I featured this bourbon in a Best Horse Racing Bourbons article as well as a full review. As I’ve mentioned before, Calumet Farms bourbon is part of the lineup of the Western Spirits Beverage Company that includes the Bird Dog Whiskey and Lexington Bourbon (adorned with the horse Lexington) brands.

Western Spirits used sourced products in the past, meaning Western Spirits was the bottler, but not the distiller. Today, the brands are produced at Bardstown Bourbon Company. The source of the current Small Batch rendition, as well as some of their older Calumet Farms lineup of 14 and 15-year-old bourbons is undisclosed. Chances are decent that these barrels had been sourced from nearby Heaven Hill.

The Tasting

The bourbon comes in an oval-shaped bottle bearing the Calumet Farm name and cupula. As I mentioned earlier, I've had Calumet Farm before and enjoyed it. I was looking forward to diving into this new, more transparent rendition. The labeling is a slight disappointment. While the neck and bottle display lovely Keeneland green stickers, the "etching" of the Calumet Farm name leaves a little to be desired. This is a brand new bottle, and it almost looks like the silk-screen print is starting to wear off. For a $59 bourbon, I was expecting a more durable etching/printing.

The bourbon is from batch number CASB01 and the label indicates it is made from 50 barrels. In addition, the label indicates that it is a blend of 25 barrels of 13 year-old bourbon and 25 barrels of 7 year-old bourbon (Note that later releases of this small batch disclose blends of 14 year-old and 8 year-old bourbons). If anyone is following along, this is where the label could disclose that this is a "7 year" bourbon”, as the label must disclose the youngest bourbon in the blend.

Lastly, the neck of the label discloses the mash bill is 74% corn, 18% rye, and 8% malted barley. From the website, we learn that the distilled spirits are aged in deeply charred (#4) oak barrels. The finished blend is bottled at 86 proof.

Eye: Medium copper. Some thin and watery legs displayed in the glass.

Nose: Vanilla and caramel. Straight-forward.

Palate: Vanilla, caramel and brown sugar followed by spice on the tip of my tongue and charred oak. A second sip reveals some light mandarin orange notes.

Finish: Charred oak up front tapering to vanilla and baking spices.

Overall: I purchased this at a local store for $59. Overall, not bad. The sub-90 proof makes this one a smooth and easy sipper. The big "miss" on this was the bottle-printed text and logo. Not sure if this was intended or a quality control issue, but something that does warrant an improvement.

This isn't a completely unique profile, the blend - and transparent disclosing of the age and barrels - makes for a solid bourbon. Based upon price, there are plenty of well-aged spirits to compete in this space, including Henry McKenna 10-Year Bottled-in-Bond (if you can find it at MSRP) and Russell's Reserve 10-Year Single Barrel.

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