Bardstown Bourbon Company Discovery Series 3 review
Bardstown Bourbon Company Discovery Series #3
Distillery: Bardstown Bourbon Company (but fully sourced)
Type & Region: Bourbon, USA
Composition: See overview, it’s a little complicated
Aged: 10 years in virgin American white oak
From the Bardstown Bourbon Company website:
“The unifying concept in Discovery Series #3 is three aged bourbons blended to create a smooth and unique expression, including two 13-year-old bourbons and a 10-year-old bourbon.”
Bardstown Bourbon Company Discovery Series 3 overview
The Bardstown Bourbon Company Discovery Series continues to grow, this time with Series #3, as Bardstown Bourbon Company explores bourbon blending to create something that’s greater than the sum of its individual parts. Unlike the prior 2 releases that were entirely Kentucky Bourbon, Bardstown Bourbon Company Discovery Series #3 swaps out the 14 year old Heaven Hill bourbon from Discovery 2 for 13 year Indiana bourbon, definitely from MGP.
This third release is a blend of the following bourbons, with added commentary based on known mashbills:
– 45%, 13 year old Indiana bourbon 75% corn, 21% rye, 4% barley (MGP)
– 32%, 13 year old Kentucky Bourbon 74% corn, 18% rye, 8% barley (Barton)
– 23%, 10 year old Kentucky bourbon 75% corn, 13% rye, 12% barley (Wild Turkey / Jim Beam)
I am excited that each release has continued to increase the percentage of > 10 year old bourbon in the blend. Let’s find out if the addition of MGP bourbon and even more older whiskey in the blend creates a better bourbon in this Bardstown Bourbon Company Discovery Series #3 review.
Bardstown Bourbon Company Discovery Series 3 smell
It all starts with a rush of dense caramel, honey, toasted lightly funky vanilla buttercream, cherry, citrus, sweet dried strawberries and blueberries, licorice, and candied pineapple followed by dark roasted oak, cinnamon, clove, and a sprinkle of dark chocolate that clearly came from longer-aged bourbon. The dark dried fruitiness is wrapped up with the toasty dark oak and wood spices, and the overall fruitiness at times reminds me of Russell’s Reserve Single Barrel Bourbon. As expected from 55% ABV, the heat comes and goes but overall isn’t an issue. Now as bourbon-y as Bardstown Bourbon Company Discovery Series 3 smells (duh), it’s still very interesting and keeps changing over time.
Swirling brings out more bright citrus, cherry, and licorice followed by honey, roasted marshmallow, pineapple, peach, and freshly cut strawberries, so the fruits have a brighter presence. Discovery Series 3 expresses its higher rye content with more licorice, anise, and tropical fruit, not so much the vegetal and earthy side. After a few minutes, the darker roasted sugar notes and dark cocoa come back as the bourbon settles, but the brighter sugar and fruit notes still lead. As old as this is, I’m a little surprised that it’s not that oaky, but nonetheless still has wonderfully fragrant toasted oak, cinnamon, chocolate, and just a little tobacco for depth. It has hints of the amazing Widow Jane 12 Year Single Barrel bourbon (a single barrel bourbon sourced from MGP), but not nearly as fruity. This smells great.
Bardstown Bourbon Company Discovery Series 3 taste & aftertaste
Bardstown Bourbon Discovery Series 3 leads with a blast of caramel, vanilla, dark berries, citrus, licorice, ripe apple, oak, cinnamon, clove, dark chocolate, and licorice. It’s a flavorful first sip with everything bouncing between the toasted sugars, dark fruits, herbal licorice, and wood, not to mention well controlled heat.
“Chewing” brings the same big burst of sweet caramel, dark berries, dark chocolate, apple, orange, vanilla, cherry, and licorice sweetness followed by roasted oak, cinnamon, and clove, with the back end having some mint right after swallowing. It’s all so well integrated between the more forward roasted sugars, fruits, and licorice, reminding me of a light sherry finish, and the oak blanket that’s not so tannic, spicy, or overwhelming. The mix of carbonation-like alcohol, citrus, and mint makes me think of Sprite as well. Bardstown Bourbon Discovery Series 3 is wonderful – nicely layered and delicious, although it’s not quite the flavor bomb I would like it would be.
Discovery 3 leaves a lightly sweet and toasted caramel, vanilla, citrus, apple, and mint tingle with oak tannins and coffee grounds that fade into gentle licorice, citrus, apple, tannins, and clove. “Chewing” brings forward more oak tannins, honey, licorice, mint, vanilla, and candied citrus and pineapple, and apple skins. The finish is fruity and lightly oaky, and is quite a bit more minty and apple-y the second time around.
Place on the Whiskey Shelf
Bardstown Bourbon Company Discovery Series 3 adds a fun twist to the bourbon formula with more roasted sugars, dark fruitiness, and rye-influenced licorice and tropical fruit thanks to the high rye MGP backbone unique to this release. Even though 77% of Discovery Series #3 is 13 years old (32% Barton and 45% MGP), the oak and spice are not so intense, which I’m sure was very intentional. This also reminds me a bit of the Russell’s Reserve Single Barrel Bourbon Total Wine Select I reviewed that is also quite fruity and tropical, even at a healthy 10 years old. That said, I’m starting to think that the 10 year old Kentucky bourbon with 75% corn in the mashbill is from Wild Turkey, not Jim Beam.
To be honest, I wasn’t that impressed with Discovery Series 3 at first, but over time as it opens-up, it’s become much more fragrant, flavorful, and interesting, making me happy to drink this – definitely “Top Shelf” bourbon. The main thing holding this back is less richness and viscosity I’d like from a high-proof bourbon of this age. It’s a little too gentle and light for me, so I might actually prefer Discovery Series #2 and #4 (more to come on that). Still, this is yet another job well done. As for the question of if you should buy it – yes if you occasionally / frequently buy bottles over $100, and no if you’re looking for that once a year splurge.