Bardstown Bourbon Company Chateau de Laubade Finish review
Bardstown Bourbon Company Chateau de Laubade Finish
Distillery: Bardstown Bourbon Company (sourced from MGP)
Type & Region: Bourbon, USA
Composition: 75% corn, 21 rye, 4% barley
Aged: 12 years in oak, 18 months in Armangac casks
Color: 1.5/2.0 on the color scale (auburn, polished mahogany)
From the Bardstown Bourbon website:
“12-year-old Indiana bourbon finished in Chateau de Laubade’s Armagnac barrels for 18 months.”
Bardstown Bourbon Company Chateau de Laubade Finish overview
Bardstown Bourbon Company Chateau de Laubade Finish is a 12 year old Indiana bourbon (very likely from MGP) that was finished in Chateau de Laubade Armagnac casks for 18 months and bottled at cask strength. This is one of a growing number of bourbons sourced from MGP and then finished including, but not limited to, Redwood Empire Haystack Needle 12 Year Single Barrel (port, chardonnay, or cabernet sauvignon), Belle Meade (cognac, sherry, madeira, honey, and more), and Joseph Magnus Bourbon just to name a few.
There are a few Armagnac finished whiskeys (e.g., Joseph Magnus Cigar Blend, Yellowstone 2020 limited edition, Barrell Armagnac Finished American Whiskey), but the growing number of cognac and brandy finishes hint that Armagnac is next in line.
For reference, Chateau de Laubade is one of the major Armagnac producers in France. Even though I don’t drink much Armagnac (at least for now), I have a feeling that they know what they’re doing so at minimum the finish won’t be bad. With that said, I’m already very impressed with Bardstown Bourbon Company Discovery Series #2, a blend of sourced Kentucky bourbons, so I’m curious to find out how they are at finishing bourbon in this Bardstown Bourbon Company Chateau de Laubade Finish review.
*I want to thank by friend Ryan B. for providing this sample.
As an FYI, I bought and use these Glencairn glasses for my reviews and comparisons (because they’re the best): Glencairn Crystal Whiskey Glass, Set of 6, Clear, 6 Pack. Full transparency, this is an affiliate link, so I may earn a commission if you buy this or something else from Amazon.
Bardstown Bourbon Company Chateau de Laubade Finish smell
Bardstown Bourbon Company Chateau de Laubade Finish has a very clear, dense, and pleasant darkness of charred caramel, toasted oak, dried fruits – date, orange, apple, and cherry, roasted vanilla, raw cocoa powder, and mint. The charred old wood and tobacco notes, likely already in the bourbon but amplified by the Armangac, are abundantly wrapped around everything and enhance the depth, but are never overdone; and the alcohol is very tame.
The nose after swirling is even more lovely with dark caramel, tons of dark fruits – orange, apple, cherry, and prune, vanilla ice cream, dark chocolatey oak, and cinnamon. This smells incredible, and I’m appreciating every whiff. The heat spikes for a moment but calms down soon after, also leaving me with a stout beer scent of dark roasted grains, dark chocolate, coffee, and vanilla that are wonderful (stouts and porters are my favorite type of beer).
The Armangac finish is very prominent and also provides hints of that savory yet funky aged gouda cheese “rancio” note, coming off a little like Joseph Magnus Cigar Blend, which is also finished in Armangac casks.
The scents are incredibly dark and rich, yet also bright and fruity at the same time. The biggest risk of a 12 year old bourbon + Armangac finish is it being overoaked, and it is far from overoaked. It’s oaky for sure, but well balanced in combination with the other abundant and mature traits.
Bardstown Bourbon Company Chateau de Laubade Finish taste & aftertaste
Bardstown Bourbon Company Chateau de Laubade Finish brings that burst of Armangac finish infused into the bourbon with caramel, vanilla, dried citrus peel and cherry, vanilla, dried tobacco, cinnamon, and just a hint of savory funk. Even at 118.4 proof the bite is well controlled and lets me savor all the dense flavors.
It continues to be incredibly sweet, dark, and savory after “chewing” with caramel, dark chocolate, dried fruits – citrus, date, berry, apple, and candied ginger, roasted sweet oak, and cinnamon. It’s so clear (to me at least) that this was finished in old brandy casks, and it they take me on a wonderful ride to flavor town. Sure, the alcohol nips at me now and then, but it’s always a bystander. The abundant dried fruit, ginger, and old oak are especially noteworthy, lathering me in all this dark and rich flavor.
I don’t know how old the Armangac was in those finishing casks, but they must have gotten some pretty old ones that were able to add enough dark sweetness, fruitiness, and oakiness to the 12 year old MGP bourbon, which usually is great to start, and crank up the awesomeness.
Oak and tobacco are most prominent to start the finish, but thankfully not overly tannic, with honey, dried orange, candied ginger, mint, and cocoa. Dried fruits and oak really linger even after a few minutes – it’s great. “Chewing” leaves thicker oak tannins, but with equally more caramel, dried citrus and grapes, and cocoa, as well as lighter notes of licorice and mint. Even after a few minutes I still can taste this everlasting candied ginger, oak, and mint. I’m undoubtedly smitten.
Place on the Whiskey Shelf
A quick tangent first – after reviewing Joseph Magnus Cigar Blend batch 13, I’m a strong believer that Armangac finishes are the perfect complement to bourbon. Ok back on topic…holy moly Bardstown Bourbon Company Chateau de Laubade Finish blows me away and drives that belief home.
The 12 year old bourbon and Armangac finish meld together so seamlessly that everything is amplified and nothing feels out of place, leaving me enamored with every sniff and sip. The Armangac dried orange, candied ginger, and dense but not overpowering oak notes add so much magic to the bourbon.
I won’t say that the Chateau de Laubade Finish is perfect, but it’s definitely one of the better bourbons I’ve drank. I rarely experience any want for more as I sometimes do with Joseph Magnus Bourbon and One Eight Untitled Whiskey No. 13, both finished in sherry and brandy. Then again, the Chateau de Laubade Finish is an extra $40-50 so I would hope that it went towards higher quality.
I still think that Joseph Magnus Cigar Blend batch 13 is the better bourbon, but it also has 3 extra finishes (oloroso sherry, Pedro Jimenez sherry, and cognac) and a lot more 13-20 year old bourbon in the mix that provide even more complexity and enjoyability.
At this point I’m mainly splitting very fine hairs at the “Top Shelf+” level. Still, the best endorsement of the Chateau de Laubade Finish is that after I reviewed this using a sample provided by a friend, I realized the error of my ways and frantically started trying to buy one for myself. I luckily was able to find one. Any whiskey that makes me want to go buy one after trying a sample / buy another one (e.g., Cigar Blend) for me is highly indicative of great whiskey.
Finished whiskeys are continuing to wow me, and I strongly believe that finishes are the next step in American whiskey’s evolution. The growing number of finished whiskeys being released is the market’s validation of that. Sure, some people will cling to the notion that bourbon has to be unfinished to truly be “pure”, but finishes can also add so much more to what’s already there, like a turbocharger to a car engine.
12 year old MGP bourbon, Chateau de Laubade Armangac, and masterful blending make Bardstown Bourbon Company Chateau de Laubade finish a home run.