Bardstown Bourbon Co. traditionally releases new editions of its Fusion and Discovery Series together. This summer, things have been switched up a bit. Instead of one of each, we’re getting two Discovery Series bottlings — editions #8 and #9. These blends are quite different, including a stave-finished offering and a whiskey whose biggest component hails from Georgia (the state). We sampled both at length. Thoughts follow.
Bardstown Bourbon Discovery Series #8 Blended Whiskey – Discovery #7 incorporated Canadian whiskey for the first time in its blend, and that continues here with a whiskey that has significant a similarity to that release. Discovery #8 is a blend of “Kentucky Bourbons (66%), two Indiana ryes (23%), and aged Canadian whiskey (11%), incorporating a custom selection of five oak staves that were created specifically to enhance the unique flavor of this original blend.” The use of finishing staves seems to be the biggest shift here, making for a truly wacky composition — but as is often the case with BBCo., it’s all kind of magical in the glass. Chocolaty but with a distinctly woody edge, the whiskey’s nose promptly engages with notes of vanilla, spice, and fresh cherries. The palate retreats a bit. There’s a corny quality up front, plus a slightly wine-laden note, then a flood of brown butter, bordering on butterscotch with a slightly syrupy sweetness. As the whiskey develops, notes of tobacco come into focus, plus a stronger cinnamon element, veering into applesauce. Lots of red fruit emerges as the finish builds, a touch of lumberyard adding some gravity, but not too much. Clean, cocoa powder on the finish. Hard to put down, echoing the impressive Discovery Series #7. 114.1 proof. A / $140 [BUY IT NOW FROM TOTAL WINE]
Bardstown Bourbon Discovery Series #9 Blended Whiskey – Here Bardstown offers up a blend that is dominated by whiskey made in Georgia (35%), with Kentucky bourbon (31%), 17 year old Tennessee whiskey (19%), and Canadian whiskey (15%) making up the rest. If the Georgia-born whiskey sounds familiar, you might be thinking about American Highway Route 2, which performed a similar trick — likely with the same stock. Toastier and woodier than Discovery #8, this blend has a bit more gravity and a considerably different — albeit still engaging — character. Malty and a bit bready on the nose, the whiskey moves over time from a pastoral aroma to one that is somewhat austere and a bit leathery. Much of that follows over to the palate, where the malty elements soon give way to a sharp citrus character, orange and lemon peel, then tobacco and more spice notes. This feels surprisingly hotter than #8, despite being lower in proof. Red pepper gives the finish some lingering burn, with cloves, ginger, and sesame oil coming on strong. Overall, it’s a bold and somewhat burly whiskey that offers plenty to love — if you can take the heat. 112.5 proof. A- / $140 [BUY IT NOW FROM TOTAL WINE]