Editor’s Note: These whiskeys were provided to us as review samples by Bardstown Bourbon Company. 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 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.
There are many reasons distilleries will utilize blending. In many cases, it is simply to ensure consistency from batch to batch. In some cases, it intentionally brings together flavors that are present in one spirit but not another, allowing them both to benefit from the mixing of their characters. In today’s selections from Bardstown Bourbon Company, I experienced two of their latest offerings–both with distinctive approaches to blending. One blends the new with the old, and one mixes well-aged with well-aged.
Based in Bardstown, Kentucky, Bardstown Bourbon crafts and distills a wide variety of whiskey. While most of their whiskey is blended in one way or another, the Discovery Series, and the Fusion Series take different approaches to flavor. The Fusion Series starts with their own, in-house whiskey and blends it with more mature whiskey from their cultivated collection. The Discovery Series utilizes exclusively well-aged whiskeys from their collection to craft its flavor profile. These strategies allow for some exciting possibilities in the tasting experience.
So, with the #6 batch series bottled and ready for the public, which one will appeal to this reviewer’s palate? Does the youthfulness of the Fusion hold up to the well-seasoned mixture of the Discovery?
Tasting Notes: Bardstown Bourbon Discovery Series #6
Vital Stats: 111.1 proof. Blend of straight bourbon whiskies: 68% Kentucky 11 yr. old, 16% Tennessee 17 yr. old, 16% Indiana 7 yr. old. $166
Appearance: Light amber, with a hint of red in the hue. It hangs on the side of the glass in a sheet.
Nose: Oak, light brown sugar, mandarin orange, and vanilla.
Palate: Bright fruity notes are evident from the heavy corn content, as well as a peppery heat that lingers. There are also sharp spices like anise, clove, and a bit of nuttiness from nutmeg. I get the cedar they mention in the official tasting notes, but much of the other softer notes are overtaken by a medicinal bite. It does benefit from a bit of dilution. Vanilla comes forward and citrus notes are off in the background–but I did have to really search for them.
Summary: This whiskey does not quite deliver on subtlety of flavor, although it does deliver on boldness. But at this price point, I personally do not expect the lack of nuance and refinement that I experienced with this tasting.
Tasting Notes: Bardstown Bourbon Fusion #6
Vital Stats: 97.9 proof. 56%. 56% Bardstown Bourbon Co. 3 yr. old, 14% Bardstown Bourbon Co. 3 yr. old (slightly different mash bill), 30% Kentucky bourbon 11 yr. old. $61
Appearance: Fresh cut hay.
Nose: Subtle, with soft caramel, butter, light brown sugar, and vanilla.
Palate: Cinnamon and cane sugar, a gentle hint of oak, raisin, and vanilla are evident against a building heat. There are bright but subtle citrus notes, and a hint of malt gives it the gentle character of an enriched dough. White pepper is the kick, almost cayenne-like but not so hot.
Summary: This is a pleasant sipper. Not as medicinal as the Discovery was, it is bold and bright. This one delivers pretty well on its promise, but I did not experience a smooth finish.
Final Thoughts: For my money, the Fusion is a much better option. I am always interested to find what flavors speak to different people. When looking for something to share and to build a conversation around, I would definitely be willing to throw the Fusion into the ring. But tacking on the extra $100 to the Discovery would keep it out of my liquor cabinet.
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As the creator and writer of “Johnny Scotch”, John Dover has built his Jazz Noir world from the music he is immersed in on a daily basis and from his travels across the US as a professional musician. John continues to build the “Johnny Scotch” library through short stories, and...