Editor’s Note: This whiskey was provided to us as a review sample by the party behind it. 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 in this review our site receives a small referral payment which helps to support, but not influence, our editorial and other costs.
Implementing transparency in the spirits industry is a centuries long overture. Most governments have at some point gone through efforts to assure quality of product for consumers, the bourbon industry being no exception. In 1897, the Bottle in Bond Act was passed to “protect the integrity and authenticity of aged spirits in America,” as many bootleggers and moonshiners were coloring, flavoring, and altering (sometimes lethally) their spirits to give them the appearance of aged whiskey.
The Bottled-in-Bond act created requirements that a spirit would have to fulfill to be advertised as such: 1) the spirit must be produced in a single distillation season by a single distillery, 2) the spirit must matured in a U.S. bonded warehouse for a minimum of 4 years, and 3) that the spirit must be at least 50% ABV.
Bardstown Bourbon Company continues in these historical footsteps with a commitment to “bringing transparency to an industry often cloaked in secrecy and lore.” Founded in the quaint city of Bardstown, Kentucky, the once-small distillery is surrounded by prominent brands such as Makers Mark, Jim Beam, Heaven Hill, and Barton 1792. Originally a “small” operation of 600,000 gallons a year, Bardstown Bourbon Co. now bottles more than 7 million gallons per year and uses state-of-the-art sensors and methods to monitor their distillation process.
So, if Bardstown Bourbon Co. is so large, why have many never heard of the company? Why don’t you see their products lining the shelves? Well, in all likelihood, you actually have drunk some Bardstown Bourbon Co. distillate, as they predominately began, and still do, produce whiskeys for other prominent brands. They boast the ability to produce over 50 different mash bills, giving them a depth of products to provide to other distilleries.
Bardstown Bourbon Co.’s specific branded whiskey, however, is only sold in 24 states, even after nearly a decade since their founding. Those lucky enough to be able to buy a bottle of their Fusion, Discovery, or Collaborative series will likely be familiar with their quality and uniqueness.
Using distillate, aged or non-aged, from other producers is a standard practice for new distilleries as they have none of their own aged product to put out on the market. As the business grows, the exciting moment arrives when a distillery is large and developed enough to start releasing their own home-grown aged distillate.
Bardstown Bourbon Co. recently reached this milestone and rolled out three products in the new Origin Series, which have all been “distilled, aged, and bottled at Bardstown Bourbon Co.” What I’m reviewing here is a Bottle-in-Bond, six-year-old Kentucky straight bourbon whiskey. Those who like Maker’s Mark, Weller, or Larceny will be happy to hear this entry is a wheated bourbon, with 20% wheat in the mash bill.
Tasting Notes: Bardstown Bourbon Origin Series Bottled-In-Bond Bourbon
Vital Stats: Aged six years. 100 Proof (50% ABV). $49.99.
Appearance: Orange with lemon-yellow peeking in on the edges.
Nose: Dark cinnamon, vanilla, and custard are immediately noticeable, mixed with notes of biscuits and orange blossom.
Palate: Bitter orange peel starts very strong with black tea and cloves peeking through oak. As it develops, toast and bread hold the palate strongly while honey sweetness kicks in late. The finish holds with some ginger and oranges.