Bardstown Bourbon Company‘s calling card is innovation. It’s what they’ve been known for since they were founded back in 2014, and it’s what they continue to stake their reputation on as they add a cavalcade of unique blends and finished products to their ever-expanding portfolio. The latest entrant in that portfolio continues the tradition by taking a 7 year old 95/5 rye whiskey from MGP (95% rye, 5% malted barley) and a 12 year old 100% corn whiskey from Ontario, blending them together, and aging them in custom made barrels from West Virginia Great Barrel Company to create their newest Collaborative Series expression.
Those barrels are composed of alternating staves of lightly toasted cherry oak, medium toasted cherry oak, and the more common American oak. However, it’s the final distinctive detail that gets top billing on the bottle – those toasted staves were created using infrared technology. In speaking with Bardstown Bourbon Company’s VP of Hospitality and Product Development Dan Callaway, he told me that the idea behind utilizing infrared toasting was to reduce the tannins from a second barreling.
“We were looking for a cooperage to innovate with on barrel maturation and we found the infrared toasted cherry wood was a perfect match for 95/5 rye,” Dan says. “I started about 1.5 years ago and did tons of experiments with bourbon and rye, as well as different toasts.”
If you’re as curious as I am about the results, keep reading. The nose unfurls with a bounty of orange-glazed cherry tart followed by a curious, smoky aroma that soon subsides and reveals toasted almonds in its wake. The entire affair is undergirded by an oak presence that binds it all together, keeping each element in check through repeat inhalations. There’s real pleasure in sitting with this glass for a while before raising it to your lips, as further notes of nutmeg-dusted corn nuts develop along with an unmistakable mint influence, which is indicative of the 95/5 MGP rye in this blend.
Once it reaches the tongue, flavors like dark chocolate café mocha with cinnamon, black pepper, and oak really coat the middle of the palate before a piquant cherry taffy note provides zing at the end. Many of the enticing aromas from the nose transfer themselves to the palate, and I was struck by the viscous mouthfeel and the significant finish which rounds out this tasting experience. At 110 proof (55% abv) this expression hits the sweet spot, and while the flavor profile isn’t entirely unique, it is entirely enjoyable. My sample bottle surely won’t be long for the world, and I’ll be keen on picking up a 750ml version in due course before other bourbon enthusiasts get wise to Bardstown Bourbon Company’s latest innovation. It’s one worthy of your attention.
A- / $160 / bardstownbourbon.com