Only a few years ago, Bardstown Bourbon Co. released the first versions of its ongoing Fusion and Discovery series, and it already feels like the company has been part of the Kentucky bourbon scene for a decade or more. And indeed, the distillery has been in production now since 2016, so they can’t exactly be called a spring chicken, but they’ve also managed to accomplish quite a bit since the release of Fusion Series # 1 and Discovery Series # 1. . in 2019. They’ve clearly established themselves among a select class of still-young Kentucky distillers that the average bourbon geek has welcomed into the state’s pantheon of top whiskey producers, and they’ve managed to make it in the middle. pandemic, with limited opportunities for face-to-face marketing. Few other companies can say they have done so much to increase their inventory since 2019.
I think part of the reason Bardstown managed to get such a solid start is that their core offering duo allowed them both to value their young distillate and to showcase their skills as a mixers at the same time. The Fusion Series allows the company to pack their own 3- and 4-year-old bourbon, making it unmistakably the star of the bottle while simultaneously backing it up with much older bourbon, taking it out of familiar territory explored by so many. other young distilleries. The Discovery Series, on the other hand, delivers the well-aged Kentucky bourbon experience that collectors crave, but brings novelty by mixing four very different bourbon mashbills, once again landing on a result that isn’t. exactly the same as everything on the shelf. Both versions are attractive and have immediately obvious selling points, but both also have enough individuality to make drinkers curious. This is how Bardstown manages to project gravity while selling 4 year old bourbon.
That said, it’s been a while since I’ve tasted any of these specific brands, so I have samples here from the last two editions: Fusion Series # 5 and Discovery Series # 5. Let’s see how the philosophy of Bardstown Bourbon Co. has continued to evolve in releases since Series # 1.
MSRP: $ 60
Fusion # 5 is a blend of 3 year old Bardstown Bourbon Co. distilled whiskey (14%), 4 year old BBC whiskey (56%) and 11 year old Kentucky bourbon (30%) from an unnamed source. , although the mashbill suggests it’s probably Beam. As in previous entries in this series, it’s bottled at 94.9 proofs, with an MSRP of around $ 60, which places it solidly at the top of the middle bourbon shelf.
On the nose, this one displays a lot of caramel candy, as well as a red fruitiness reminiscent of strawberry and cherry, although this turns out to be some sort of brighter fruitiness than the darker impressions found in Discovery # 5. I also get more toasted elements, hints of bread crust and cocoa, which made me note the next note with which I laugh in retrospect: “Chocolate Babka”. There is also something fresher here, possibly younger oak from the BBC barrels, which has a very slightly resinous / piney quality.
On the palate, I get brown sugar and a significant cheesy sweetness, with cherry and cocoa eclairs. You certainly get both ‘young’ and ‘old’ elements dueling in this brand, with the younger, grain-derived flavors eventually fading into the background to become a subtle herbaceous. Rye seems to be making itself felt more and more over time, which led me to notice that one of Bardstown’s mash bills is quite high in 26% rye. Overall, there’s more than enough complexity to grab the attention of the seasoned bourbon drinker.
MSRP: $ 130
This is where I’m being honest: these two brands are one of those cases where it’s not at all difficult to argue as to why one is so much more expensive than the other. While I sincerely believe that most bourbon fans would blind taste Fusion # 5 and think “Mmm, that’s pretty good,” I would expect almost any of them to taste. blindly to Discovery # 5 next door and say “Woah, now what is it this. “This brand is both an impressive showcase for the BBC’s blenders and the distillers who originally produced and aged these whiskeys.
Discovery Series # 5 is made up of four different mashbill whiskeys, sourced from four different distilleries – the mash bills seem to suggest Barton 1792, George Dickel, Heaven Hill and Jim Beam, all of whom are prolific sellers of well-aged whiskey for purposes mixture. . The ages of this blend range from 6 to 17 years old, with 56% of the blend being at least 13 years old. All in all, therefore, a fairly well seasoned mixture. It is barrel-strength bottled which for this batch is a comparatively lower ABV of 52.35% (proof 104.7).
On the nose, I first get lots of deep, seductive red fruit on this one – Luxardo maraschino cherries in that inky black syrup, in caramel, chocolate and maple. Back in the glass a few minutes later, it had more and more transformed into aromas of sweet, smoked, roasted orange oil, which suggested how Discovery # 5 tended to change over time. time in the glass.
On the palate, it offers a wonderful balance between decadence and structure, with initial impressions of creamy caramel and vanilla bean, as well as sweet almond butter and flambé orange. There is also a significant earthy side, however, and more than a bit of drying oak tannin to dampen things down, as well as a pronounced tobacco note on the back. The Kentucky hug is unsurprisingly a bit more pronounced here than on the Fusion # 5, and the entire presentation grabs the palate with a firm but supple hand – very “iron fist in a velvet glove”.
Overall a delicious blend of well-aged bourbons that will likely be both familiar and new.
Jim Vorel is a staff writer for Paste and a resident dark liquor geek. You can follow him on twitter for more drink writing.