Bardstown Bourbon Company Discovery Series #2 review
Bardstown Bourbon Company Discovery Series #2
Distillery: Bardstown Bourbon Company
Type & Region: Bourbon, Kentucky, USA
Composition: 75.12% corn, 14.44% rye, 10.44% barley
Aged: 10 years in virgin American white oak
From the Bardstown Bourbon Company website:
“The unifying concept in Discovery Series #2 is a 12-year-old Kentucky bourbon combined with light accents of older and younger Kentucky bourbons. Layered maple, a burst of cinnamon, and ripe pair on top of aged leather comprise this complex aroma. A warm palate reveals tannic oak embedded in rich flavor. A remarkable, enduring finish rounds out our premier bourbon blend”
Bardstown Bourbon Company Discovery Series #2 overview
Bardstown Bourbon Company (BBC) is another upstart distillery trying to change the game built by the bigs of the US whiskey industry. Based in Kentucky, they also live right in the heart of bourbon country. Bardstown Bourbon Company has 2 main releases – Fusion and Discovery, with a few smaller releases of sourced bourbons finished in various types of casks (e.g., Copper & Kings Brandy, red wine). In this review, I’ll focus on Discovery Series #2, the second release in their line of 100% sourced and unfinished bourbon. Bardstown Bourbon Company is bucking the trend by being transparent (as much as they legally can) about their whiskey. On the label and the website, they provide the following information about the blend –
– 44% 10-year Kentucky bourbon (75% corn, 13% rye, 12% barley) (Beam or Wild Turkey)
– 39% 12-year Kentucky bourbon (74% corn, 18% rye, 8% barley) (Barton)
– 17% 14-year Kentucky bourbon (78% corn, 10% rye, 12% barley) (Heaven Hill)
You’ll notice that I added parentheses for where I believe the bourbon is sourced. With some internet sleuthing, certain mashbills are dead giveaways for the distillery, but the 75% corn, 13% rye, 12% barley bourbon could come from either Jim Beam or Wild Turkey. Hopefully the smelling and tasting will provide more clarity. Let’s “discover” more in this Bardstown Bourbon Company Discover Series #2 review.
Bardstown Bourbon Company Discovery Series #2 smell
First off, a word of caution – Bardstown Bourbon Company Discovery Series #2 kicks like an angry horse for the first 30 minutes out of the glass, so give it at least 30 minutes to wear itself out before trying to wrangle it. Also, give the glass a slow turn to let the bourbon coat the sides, which will help unlock the scents. Now diving in, I immediately smell grassy and nutty (think peanut shells) caramel with ample vanilla, dried oranges, cherries, oak, and an ever-present must. Even though Bardstown Bourbon Company was transparent about the 3 whiskey in the blend, it’s still not clear to me if the 10 year old bourbon is Jim Beam or Wild Turkey, because both can be similarly grassy and nutty. There’s a lot of roasted oak mixed into the sweetness, followed by cinnamon, nutmeg, and a dusting of cocoa. The citrus, especially orange and lime, ebb and flow through the oak and chocolate, providing fleeting moments of brightness. Even with the remaining kick, it still smells great – a big bourbon-y nose.
After swirling, Discovery #2 rushes out of the gate with oaky and grassy cotton candy spritzed in citrus and licorice (from the rye). That probably means that I’m smelling a sweet blend of caramel, vanilla, and roasted oak. For whatever reason I’m caught off guard by the oaky cotton candy, but it’s interesting nonetheless. After a few more sniffs, I find more baked spiced apple with the slightest peach presence. Between the citrus, apple, peach, amorphous dark fruits lurking around, and licorice, there’s this fantastic contrasting dark and bright fruitiness. It’s all well balanced between the toasted sugars, fruits, and constant dark oak and spice. The nuttiness has worn-off a little as well. Let me reiterate that you should let this sit for 30 minutes; because it becomes more sweet and intense with less alcohol nipping at my nostrils. Regardless, Discovery Series #2 smells fantastic, and it’s not shy to show it off.
Bardstown Bourbon Company Discovery Series #2 taste & aftertaste
To continue with horse references, Bardstown Bourbon Company Discovery Series #2 stampedes my taste buds (in a good way) with caramel, citrus, vanilla, and oak with a little grass. It’s not so nutty for now, but there is a lot of cinnamon and nutmeg on the back end right before it all goes down into my lucky stomach. This first taste is bold and fantastic, a bucking bronco of sweet, oaky, and spicy flavors. Given that it’s not so nutty on the flavors, I’m leaning towards the 10 year bourbon being from Wild Turkey (still could be wrong).
“Chewing” brings a big kick of caramel, maple syrup, vanilla, licorice, oak, cinnamon, citrus, and baked apples. The baked gala apple takes a few seconds to trot in, but it’s like a splash of apple brandy when it appears. It’s not extremely apple-y, but there’s definitely enough to notice it with everything else swirling around. Discovery is a very sweet bourbon buoyed by plentiful oak and spice so it’s not like drinking straight maple syrup (although I do love to eat a spoonful of 100% pure maple syrup). Every now and then I taste dark chocolate nibs, but it’s easy to lose in everything else. There’s a little more heat now as well, but it’s still generally well controlled for 61%. Subsequent sips are still just as bold and interesting, with licorice and fennel coming through more as my palate adjusts. The alcohol also becomes quite manageable.
Honey, vanilla, and oak start the finish, which fades away into a gentle oakiness and mintiness. “Chewing” leaves a honey, vanilla, licorice, and mint sweetness with a little oak tannin and cocoa bitterness. Citrus appears after about 15 seconds and it all eventually turns to mint. Bardstown Bourbon Company Discovery Series #2 is a flavor bomb with a long and wonderful finish.
Place on the Whiskey Shelf
Bardstown Bourbon Company Discovery Series #2 is a powerhouse bourbon. It’s rich, bold, and actually quite complex as well. As bourbons go, it’s excellent, but doesn’t necessarily do anything new (more a fault of the strict rules for bourbon). Then again, that’s what their finished and homemade bourbons (when they’re old enough) are there to accomplish.
One of the biggest benefits of blending across distilleries is that it allowed Bardstown Bourbon Company to augment traits that might be less prevalent in the other bourbons. For example, 14 year old Knob Creek Single Barrel Picks are excellent, but they can be little one dimensional with primarily toasted sugar and oak. Adding Heaven Hill and Barton bourbons might layer-in more fruitiness (and other traits) that help augment the scents and flavors. The 12 and 14-year-old components of the blend also come through with that constant oak and spice in the nose and palate that help everything feel more mature and deep. Bardstown Bourbon Company has been able to meld all these different bourbons together into something fantastic, a job well done.
Snap back to reality…for a moment. I still haven’t forgotten that $130 is pricey as hell for bourbon, let alone any drink (and here we go on a tangent). Bardstown Bourbon Company Discovery Series #2 is great, but at the same time it can be tough to justify the price (reminder: price doesn’t factor in the rating). Sourcing is expensive, especially 10+ year old bourbon from some of the world’s top bourbon producers, and introduces another middleman that has to make money. So yeah, this is not an everyday drinker and given everything else that’s out there, I would struggle to buy this again given the plethora of other options. This isn’t necessarily better than Four Roses Single Barrel Picks for $80-90, < 12 year old MGP bourbons for under $100, 12 year old Elijah Craig Barrel Proofs for $60, or 14+ year old Knob Creek Single Barrel picks for < $60. Then again, I’m also fortunate enough to be sitting on my whiskey-colored Ivory tower to write all of this. Regardless, I am glad I bought Discovery Series #2.
Ok back on track now. If you buy this, will you like it? I believe that you will adore this. Is this Whiskey Shelf approved? It certainly is. Is it a good “value”? Not by a long shot, and unfortunately much of bourbon these days is pretty poor value.