Editor’s Note: These whiskeys were provided to us as a review sample by Bardstown Bourbon. 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.
Bardstown Bourbon Company is a success story of bourbon distilling. It was founded in 2013, groundbreaking in 2015, and a top 10 distiller by volume by 2018, then bought by Pritzker Private Capital in 2022. In nine years, they became one of the top distillers by volume, fueled in part by contract distilling for many top brands including Jefferson’s, High West, Belle Meade, Hirsch, Calumet, James E. Pepper, Cyrus Noble, etc.
According to Distillery Trail, “Since its start production capacity has quadrupled and they [Bardstown Bourbon Company] now distill more than 50 unique mash-bills for more than 30 premium spirits brands. The distillery produces more than seven million proof gallons annually, placing it among the top 10 U.S.-based whiskey distillers by volume and making it the largest custom distiller in America.” Bardstown as a name would sound familiar to bourbon aficionados – it is the second oldest town in Kentucky and home to many of the most famous bourbon distilleries, such as Heaven Hill and Willett.
It’s impressive growth, considering the competition even in their hometown! And it was also a smart idea to start contract distilling from a cash flow perspective. Many custom distilleries start by selling white spirits like gin or vodka, since they do not have to age, while Bardstown Bourbon Company’s approach was completely different, although similar to other great younger distilleries like Green River Distillery and Wilderness Trail, and it’s paid off.
But it’s not all contract distilling at Bardstown. With their Fusion and Discovery lines, the brand is blending their own younger distillate with juice from many other distilleries, including producers in Indiana, Tennessee, and Ontario.
The Fusion Series #7, a Kentucky straight bourbon, includes three different mash bills of their own (totaling 70% of the total), 20% 12 year undisclosed bourbon from Kentucky, and 10% another bourbon, again from Kentucky.
Discovery Series #7 is the older step brother of Fusion Series, in a way, and is a showcase for their expertise in blending. I call it step brother because, though they are both blended by Bardstown Bourbon Company’s expert blenders, they do not have many similarities in terms of the origin of the whiskeys that go into each blend. Seventy percent of the Fusion Series #7 is three-year-old Bardstown Bourbon Company’s own juice, but Discovery Series #7 contains none of their own bourbon. The youngest component of Discover Series #7 is seven years old (a high corn rye whiskey), and constitutes only 15% of the total, while 77% is 12 years old and 8% is 17 years old and from Tennessee. Twenty-one percent of the 12 year bourbons are from Ontario.
Both bourbons were reviews using Glencairn glass, at room temperature and rested for a few minutes.
Tasting Notes: Bardstown Bourbon Company Fusion Series #7
Vital stats: 54% BBC 3-year bourbon (75% corn, 21% rye, 4% malted barley), 10% BBC 3-year bourbon (60% corn, 40% rye), 6% BBC 3-year bourbon (60% corn, 26% rye, 10% wheat, 4% malted barley), 20% undisclosed 12-year bourbon from Kentucky (78% corn, 10% rye, 12% malted barley) , 10% undisclosed 12-year bourbon from Kentucky (75% corn, 13% rye, 12% malted barley). 98.1 proof, $60-$65 SRP.
Appearance: Light amber/honey.
Nose: Pretty mild, with hints of corn. Not very complex.
Palate: Nice mild oak, tannin and a lovely spice that doesn’t overpower the subtle vanilla, honey and stone fruit notes. I also get a hint of mint at the very tail end. It has a nice, decently long finish, with oak and mild vanilla lingering on while the spice fades. At the very end, you are left with hints of that oak lingering on your tongue.
Final Thoughts: This is a lovely crafted blend from five different whiskies, and a pleasure to drink. Its finish is similar to ones I am used to from higher proof bourbons. This is a good sipper, at any occasion. Not overly complex, which is not surprising for a mostly three-year-old blend, but still well executed, with the older bourbons rounding up the youngness of more youthful components. Given that there are some older higher proof bourbons priced around $60 SRP, this might be a “try before you buy” kind of a proposition, but I enjoyed it. If you are looking for a well crafted, easy to sip yet decently complex bourbon, this is a good one.
Tasting Notes: Bardstown Bourbon Company Discovery Series #7
Vital Stats: Blend includes 12-year bourbon from Kentucky with a mash bill of 75% corn, 13% rye, 12% malted barley, a 12-year bourbon from Kentucky with a mash bill of 78% corn, 10% rye, 12% malted barley; 12-year 100% corn whiskey from Ontario, 7-year rye whiskey from Tennessee with a mash bill of 45% corn, 51% rye, and 4% malted barley; and a 17-year bourbon from Tennessee with a mash bill of 84% corn, 8% rye, 8% malted barley. 114.5 proof, $139.99 SRP.
Nose: A delicate nose with a hint of earthiness, oak, and nuttiness.
Palate: It has a nice mouth feel. There’s a little burn from the ABV but it goes away quickly, and it’s completely pleasant. I do get hints of mint on this one as well, plus some definite rye and black pepper spice. The rye component of this blend complements the sweetness from the corn very well. I also get subtle dark chocolate.
Final Thoughts: Kudos to Bardstown Bourbon Company for a delicate, complex and delicious blend. BBC has shown their expertise in blending before and this is no exception. This is not one of those hit you in the face high proof bourbons – this is, despite a high ABV, a delicate and complex whiskey.
The Takeaway: Bardstown Bourbon Company is a rising star in the bourbon/whiskey world. Their Fusion and Discovery series are great examples of what masterful blending can do. Their own bourbon is exciting and I am looking forward to seeing how more time spent in the barrels will influence it in the upcoming years.