Bardstown Bourbon Company Fusion Series #2 review
Bardstown Bourbon Company Fusion Series #2 Bourbon
Distillery: Bardstown Bourbon Company
Type & Region: Bourbon, Kentucky, USA
Composition: 67.04% corn, 22.32% rye, 3.6% wheat, 7.04% barley
Aged: 2 years 10 months in virgin American white oak
Price: $23 MSRP prior to 2019 but ~$50 after. $80+ in secondary market
From the Bardstown Bourbon Company website:
“Fusion Series #2 is a blend of 60% of Bardstown Bourbon Company’s 3 year old wheated and high rye Kentucky bourbons along with 40% of 12 year bourbon from Kentucky to create a smooth, complex pour. The fusion between youthful and aged bourbon becomes immediately apparent on the nose. Green apple with honey join roasted nuts and caramel. These disparate profiles are unified on the first sip, coating the palate and finishing with extraordinary balance.”
Bardstown Bourbon Company Fusion Series #2 overview
Bardstown Bourbon Company Fusion Series #2, released in late 2019, is Bardstown Bourbon Company’s second release of a “fusion” between their own homemade wheated and rye bourbons with sourced bourbon. Apart from One Eight Distilling Untitled No. 18, releases that blend homemade and sourced bourbons are uncommon, so kudos to Bardstown Bourbon Company for doing something different. Speaking of different, I also appreciate how transparent they are by providing the ratios of bourbons that go into the final blend.
That said, here’s the breakdown of Fusion Series #2.
– 40% 12 year old Kentucky Bourbon (74% corn, 18% rye, 8% barley) – Probably from Barton
– 18% 3 year old Bardstown Bourbon Company distilled bourbon (68% corn, 20% wheat, 12% malted barley)
– 42% 2 year and 10 month old Bardstown Bourbon Company distilled (60% corn, 36% rye, 4% malted barley)
Don’t get attached to this blend though because each Fusion Series is a limited time release that is updated periodically. In fact, Fusion Series #3 has already started to arrive on shelves in my area as I post this review. For now, let’s dig in and find out if this unorthodox blending method works well in this Bardstown Bourbon Company Fusion Series #2 review.
Bardstown Bourbon Company Fusion Series #2 smell
Bardstown Bourbon Company Fusion Series #2 immediately greets me with sweet toasted grains, honey, citrus, peach, apple, papaya, licorice, and vanilla. It has a light nuttiness and grassiness as well, almost as if there were Heaven Hill wheated bourbon here (there isn’t), and a nice rye presence that brings the tropical fruits. Still, this is quite bread-forward, making it smell very young, but not unpleasant. Within all of that is some underlying toasted oak, cinnamon, and black pepper that add to the balanced sweetness, fruitiness, oak, bread, and heat.
Swirling brings that same blend of toasted bread, honey, vanilla custard, licorice, citrus, peach, lightly smoked oak, and cinnamon, with the occasional hint of dry grassiness (probably from the 12 year bourbon) and something floral. The herbal sweetness and breadiness remind me of a lower proof Wilderness Trail Cask Strength Bourbon (the ones that are almost 5 years old), but less developed at the moment. There are some nice notes and I especially like the fruitiness, but for the most part everything smells somewhat light, dull, and mashed together with nothing catching my attention, making this good but not outstanding.
Bardstown Bourbon Company Fusion Series #2 taste & aftertaste
Bardstown Bourbon Company Fusion Series #2 has a blend of herbal and malty sweetness from honey, vanilla, licorice, orange, lemon, and toasted grains followed by roasted oak and cinnamon. I really notice the herbal licorice and anise, which reinforces how much rye is in the mash. I also quickly notice that the flavors and mouthfeel are both round (non chill filtered?) yet kind of dull, so nothing stands out. It feels like there should be more here that I’m not getting. The ABV feels right for 49.5% though.
With “chewing” I still taste the same toasty malted grain, honey, vanilla buttercream, citrus, peach, licorice, toasted oak, and cinnamon. Fusion Series #2 has a decent amount of everything, but it definitely has a bread-forward flavor that makes it clear that it’s young. I now also start to get some herbal black tea notes, probably from the honey, licorice, and dry oak that emulate the lingering tannins and bitterness of tea leaves. It’s not bad, but it’s also not great.
Dull honey and cantaloupe sweetness with some oak tannins and licorice lead the finish, turning into banana peel after a minute. After “chewing” I’m left with a melding of honey, toasted bread, oak tannins, licorice, and a little apple. It’s not a bad finish, it’s just not great either. Bardstown Bourbon Company Fusion Series #2 is a decently flavorful bourbon with some variety, but the flavors tend to blur together and lack definition. I can’t tell if it’s because of the proof or the blend.
Place on the Whiskey Shelf
Bardstown Bourbon Company Fusion Series #2 is a generally interesting blend of young and old bourbon that ends up being good but not spectacular. The 2 year and 10 month old high rye bourbon, making up 42% of the blend, seems to lead everything with baked bread, honey, and licorice. I enjoy the overall blend of citrus, apple, and peach fruitiness, but for better or worse the toasted bread notes constantly remind me that this is young. The 12 year old bourbon also doesn’t seem to do enough to elevate the overall blend either, so you’re primarily paying to experience the young bourbon. The scents and flavors are decently varied and not thin, good for a “Mid Shelf+” rating, but everything is dulled and mashed together in a way where nothing really stands out, so it’s also far from a “Top Shelf” rating.
While price doesn’t factor into the rating, I still have to say that Bardstown Bourbon Company Fusion Series #2 doesn’t hold up as a $55-60 bourbon, especially when comparably priced bourbons such as Wild Turkey Rare Breed, Elijah Craig Barrel Proof, and 1792 Full Proof exist. I’m abundantly aware that it’s not fair to compare a young distillery to an established one and I get that Fusion Series #2 is meant to introduce us to their own younger distillate, but they could have done so much better given how well they blended Discovery Series #2 and Chateau de Laubade Finish. I didn’t expect anything “Top Shelf”, but I expected better. For most consumers, your best bets are to splurge on their more expensive non-Dickel releases (if you can afford it) or buy something from a different distillery entirely. I hate to say it, but this is a pass even with a “Mid Shelf+” rating. Maybe Fusion #3 will be better.