In addition to its steady stream of Fusion and Discovery Series offerings, Bardstown Bourbon Co. has a robust portfolio of finished whiskeys. We’ve covered several of their impressive wine-finished installments done in collaboration with Phifer Pavvitt and The Prisoner Wine Company, but the finishing regimen also extends to cognac, sherry, and even beer. Recently, the distillery partnered with Founders Brewing to finish some of their sourced stocks in the Michigan brewery’s iconic barrel-aged Kentucky Breakfast Stout. Interestingly, the distillery selected a ten-year-old Tennessee whiskey, instead of the obvious Kentucky bourbon, to finish for 15 months in these ex-bourbon-aged stout casks. Let’s check it out.
The nose is less stout cask but also somehow less Tennessee whiskey than I would have suspected, especially at such a healthy proof. This is delicate stuff with the malt drowning out some of the nuttiness in the whiskey while accentuating, but not really amplifying, the cocoa notes. A bit of orange oil and cherry juice emerge with more time in the glass, but overall, things remain rather subdued. The palate punches with considerably more complexity, delivering an initial burst of milk chocolate-covered caramel and toasty dark malts that quickly turns unusually, almost excessively, fruity. Fresh squeezed orange juice, pulpy and tart, along with some dark Bing cherries offer a sharp contrast to the stout cask’s roasted coffee and dark chocolate foundation. There’s a wonderful warmth and subtle spice here, but things never quite find harmony despite a generous, syrupy finish that showcases chocolate biscuits, slightly sour orange slices, hot cocoa, and RedHots. The Tennessee whiskey selected for this release must have been a real fruit bomb. Despite the excess of fruit, it’s a solid bourbon that earns points for uniqueness. Definitely not an everyday sipper, but it’s sure to stump your friends at the next blind tasting.
B+ / $160 / bardstownbourbon.com