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. They predominantly began, and still do, produce whiskeys for other prominent brands, boasting the ability to produce over 50 different mash bills and 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 unaged, 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 has initially rolled out products in the new Origin Series, which have all been “distilled, aged, and bottled at Bardstown Bourbon Co.”
The one I’m reviewing here is a Kentucky straight rye whiskey finished in toasted cherry wood and oak barrels.
Tasting Notes: Bardstown Bourbon Origin Series Rye Whiskey
Vital Stats: Aged six years. 96 Proof (48% ABV). Finished in Toasted Cherry Wood and Oak Barrels. $69.99
Appearance: Red orange, like a few drops of grenadine dropped into a glass of whiskey.
Nose: Grassy notes of juniper and fern are very apparent at the start. Nutmeg and black pepper also feature with a bit of apricot.
Palate: Dry apricot and cherry overlay a dominant oak flavor, with spices of anise and a bit of lavender huddling underneath. The finish has a solid corn and clove flavor.
Whiskey Review: Bardstown Bourbon Origin Series Rye Whiskey
There are a lot of great ryes out on the market between $40-$80, and this expression fits right into that category as a strong contender for quality. This is a bright and spicy rye, so if you like that flavor, this bottle should land on your shelf at least once. For those into a softer rye, you might look elsewhere.
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I am a Portland area attorney whose career has dovetailed with a love of fine spirits and cigars. With no formal training in the field, my own interest spurred a thorough education through books, articles, visits to distilleries all over the United States, and a few deep dives into Wikipedia....