Whiskey Reviews: Bardstown Bourbon Company (Fusion Series #8, #9)

, | January 4, 2023

Editor’s Note: These whiskeys were provided to us as review samples by the party behind them. 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 links towards the bottom of this review our site receives a small referral payment which helps to support, but not influence, our editorial and other costs.

The Bardstown Bourbon Company’s house-distilled whiskeys have just now come of age. This means, meanwhile, that the final two of the Fusion series are in reviewers’ hands.

Peter Loftin founded the Bardstown Bourbon Company (BBC) in 2014. In early 2022, it was announced that private equity firm Pritzker Private Capital was purchasing the distillery. Today a massive expansion is in the works: just this past spring, the company announced plans to increase their distilling capacity by 50%, or 55,000 barrels, with a nearly 30 million dollar expansion.

The Fusion series focuses on blending house-distilled and aged bourbons with older, sourced bourbons. It’s almost like taking a sneak peek at what their 100% house-distilled program will be with more time in barrel. But that certainly doesn’t make these any less deserving of attention! It’s also their more affordable line, at about half the cost of the Discovery series, which features much older, sourced bourbons.

These two releases (#8, #9) are both Kentucky Straight Bourbons (KSB) blends from three separate components. Each of these components are corn-heavy, most above 70%, and include rye. Both are based on two four-year-old components distilled in house with a 12-year-old KSB from another producer.

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The proportions vary, and the Bardstown Bourbon Company Fusion Series #9 Kentucky Straight Bourbon included a house KSB with a dash of wheat. BBC describes the Bardstown Bourbon Company Fusion Series #8 Kentucky Straight Bourbon as based on two “vibrant, high-rye” house distilled KSBs that are “balanced by a bold 12-year Kentucky expression.”

The Fusion #9 is described as “nuanced” and their “favorite creation to date.”

Bardstown Bourbon Company Fusion Series review

Bardstown Bourbon Company Fusion Series #8 Kentucky Straight Bourbon (image via Bardstown Bourbon)

Tasting Notes: Bardstown Bourbon Company Fusion Series #8 Kentucky Straight Bourbon

Vital Stats: This is a blend of two four-year-old and one 12-year-old KSBs aged in new American oak, 47.75% ABV, mash bill: various (corn-heavy with rye and malted barley), SRP $64.99/ 750ml bottle.

Appearance: This is pale golden yellow in color.

Nose: There’s an earthy aroma on first sniff much like wet fallen leaves. I pick up notes of heavily spiced cherry compote, fresh yeast, and root beer.

Palate: My first thought on sipping was that this tastes like freshly baked yeast donuts, and very much in a good way. It has a silky body with mild, fine-grained tannins. There’s a pop of powdered sugar and lush, mature vanilla notes alongside the notes of bread dough, marshmallow root tea, and holy basil. The 12-year in the blend really shows on the palate, rounding out the vanilla sweetness. A dash of water really opens up the aromatics.

Score: 4/5

Bardstown Bourbon Company Fusion Series review

Bardstown Bourbon Fusion #9 (image via Bardstown Bourbon)

Tasting Notes: Bardstown Bourbon Company Fusion Series #9 Kentucky Straight Bourbon

Vital Stats: This is a blend of two four-year-old and one 12-year-old KSBs aged in new American oak, 48.4% ABV, mash bill: various (corn-heavy with rye, malted barley, and a tiny amount of wheat), SRP $64.99/ 750ml bottle.

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Appearance: This is golden yellow in color with a mahogany undertone.

Nose: There’s a mild note of Queen Anne’s lace at first, which opens into notes of fresh tangerine peels, and red apples. It’s bold and spicy with a strong suggestion of heat from the alcohol.

Palate: The palate is fiery but more viscous than its predecessor with mild tannins. I pick up notes of day lilies, fresh orange zest, and cherry cough drops. There’s a note of vanilla beans on the noise. It finishes rather abruptly with a touch of bitter hops, cast iron, and tree bark. Water brings out a minty note like chewing gum. This seems far less vanilla-dominant than its partner.

Score: 4.5/5

Final Thoughts

I had initially expected the two to taste quite similar since their mash bills are nearly identical. Those tiny adjustments really make a huge difference, especially to the aromatics. The Fusion 9 definitely seems the more nuanced, but the Fusion 8 is a lot of fun. These are great for sipping and hint at more great things to come from this surprisingly young distillery.

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Suzanne Bayard

Suzanne Bayard struck out to the West Coast with her now husband almost a decade ago to explore the intersection of wine and policy in its world-class wine regions. She manages a Portland, OR bottle shop by day as the wine buyer and newsletter editor. She is also the Director...