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Whisky Reviews

Bardstown Bourbon Company Origin Series Kentucky Straight Bourbon Whiskey, 96 Proof (48% ABV)


Bardstown Bourbon Company has grown quickly and swiftly to becoming one of the largest Bourbon producers in Kentucy, US, and are responsible for numerous brands that you probably might have heard of, and yet you won't spot Bardstown's name on them - if you were thinking along the lines of them contract distilling and producing white labelled Bourbon for other brands that handle the marketing and distribution, you're on the right track. And it's not without precedent, with MGP Ingredients having been in the same business for decades.



Bardstown Bourbon Company was started in just 2016, but has quickly gotten its boots on the ground, supplying to over 40 brands, including Jefferson's, High West, Kentucky Owl, Hirsch and Belle Meade, just to name a few. And while that might seem rather peculiar outside of the US, it's actually a widely accepted practice and certainly hasn't stopped Non-Distilling Producers (or NDPs, who procure whiskey from other producers, and focus more on the branding and distribution) from achieving great success. That's at least in part because these NDPs do have some say in what sort of whiskey is to be made - they're able to select the mashbill, the flavour profiles they'd like to achieve, and even after receiving their orders they are still able to carry out their own unique cask finishing. It allows NDPs to move faster and sometimes cheaper too.

But when Bardstown Bourbon Company had itself established, it was pretty sure that supplying NDPs wasn't all it was going to do. It quickly began ageing whiskies for itself. If you're going to be making good Bourbon for other brands, why not do it for yourself? And so in 2019, Bardstown Bourbon Company began releasing their own line of Bourbons - this started off with the Discovery and Fusion series which saw the distiller blend their own stocks of young Bourbon (they only started distilling in 2016, after all!) with older whiskies sourced from other producers - this did very well with the Bourbon community and was met with rave reviews (although I must concede that I have yet to try them).



And everyone knew what Bardstown Bourbon Company was working towards - a lineup of their own 100% self-produced whiskies. With the early Discovery and Fusion series having been a hit, they surely won many supporters on the way to a fully self-produced Bardstown Bourbon Company whiskey. And so when the Origin Series finally dropped in 2023, it was met with great excitement and anticipation - a taste of some properly aged 100% Bardstown Bourbon Company produced whiskies.

I managed to get my hands on a sample to give their Kentucky Straight Bourbon a go. This is a 6 Year Old Bourbon, 96 Proof (48% ABV), and interestingly uses a 36% High Rye mashbill that some point out as having been pioneered by MGP - although it stands to reason that mashbills are not necessary a matter of trade secret anyway.

Let's go! 

Bardstown Bourbon Company Origin Series Kentucky Straight Bourbon Whiskey, 96 Proof (48% ABV) - Review


Tasting Notes

Colour: Honey Gold

Aroma: Opens up with some peanut notes - we’re talking peanut shells, peanut butter, peanut cream. It’s rather rich, with a backdrop of honey and a light bit of eucalyptus, perhaps a little bit of tobacco leaves. Over time it becomes more lifted with more on peanut shells backed by a good amount of honey, with more caramel and vanilla cream coming through with even more time. Little bit of freshly sawn oak.

Taste: Medium-bodied, alittle lighter than expected, with more of those peanut funk (of left out peanut butter) and peanut shells coming through, alittle bit of herbaceous parsley, and a very thin but of cherry candy or cherry liquorice. It’s quite savoury, backed by a thin wall of caramel and vanilla cream.

Finish: The oily savouriness of the barrel char comes through more here. More of that bitterness and char, before moving on to a charcuterie savoury oiliness alongside some caramel. An aftertaste of wet brown leaves and this hit of wet moss - I know right..


My Thoughts

This definitely nailed that peanut funk that I find myself yearning for on occasion, and at which point, can hardly find. Yet I think the unavoidable fact is that this was alittle disappointing for such a highly anticipated release - it has the big aromatics intact but where it falls short is on the palate where it comes off alot more thin and watery than expected, where’s the body and the creamy heftiness? 

Without a solid thick body, the flavours come off as being high pitched and hollow - they aren’t quite as cohesive, rich or rounded as one might hope for either. The flavours on the palate seem to missing a sense of order, they’re kind of all about without much harmonising. The finish as well was alittle lacking with the barrel char bitterness being rather overwhelming and out of place as well. And then of course that aftertaste of wet forest floors was just tough to wrap my head around.

Ultimately I think this was done in by the lack of a full body - a good thickness and richness to the body can really elevate damn near anything a good few notches. The cohesiveness and off notes were also a couple of the other issues I noticed.

All in, I liked the peanut notes, but there’s alot more that’s got to be here for this to really achieve its full potential.