Barmen 1873 Bourbon Review [In Depth]

Barmen 1873 Bourbon

Alex author
Founder, writer
Barmen 1873 bourbon header

Barmen 1873 Bourbon Details

Distillery / Company: Coors (sourced from somewhere, maybe in Kentucky)

Type & Region: Bourbon, USA

Alcohol: 46%

Composition: Unknown

Aged: At least 4 years

Color: 1.3/2.0 on the color scale (russet, muscat)

Price: $35-40

From the company website:

Inspired by our founder’s great, great grandfather, A. Coors, the Barmen 1873™ name honors his birthplace and the year in which he established his legacy, now 150 years strong. That same legacy of ingenuity and grit still runs through our veins at Coors Whiskey Co. here in Golden, Colorado.

Barmen 1873 Bourbon overview

Coors is thoroughly American, but its roots are German. And to celebrate its German and American roots…Coors decided to sell a bourbon…which is extremely American. It’s a little confusing and all over the place, but I’ll take it and see where it goes.
If you didn’t know this already, Molson Coors is in the whiskey business. They’re still fairly new to it, but they made a huge splash when they bought Blue Run in August 2023, and then expanded on that to release other whiskeys under various brands. They are very late compared to other major beverage companies, some who have been at it for decades, but it’s better late than never.
I mention German / Germany because Barmen 1873 Bourbon pays homage to Adolf Coor’s roots, as he was born in Barmen, Germany, immigrated to the United States, and founded Coors in Colorado in 1873. This is not the first time that they’ve used the Barmen name. They’ve also used the name for one of their limited release beers.
That’s all well and good, but to be frank, I am not a big fan of the lack of transparency with the bourbon. It is so generic and not transparent that they just call it “a blend of straight bourbons”…that’s it. The back of the bottle writes “blended and bottled by Coors Whiskey Co., Bardstown, KY”, which suggests that Bardstown Bourbon Company might have something to do with this.
That is not guaranteed as there are a handful of other distilleries in the area that have been known to sell their distillate, but I suspect that Bardstown Bourbon is the most open to selling bourbon to Coors. Sazerac, a direct competitor who owns Barton 1792, might not be so open to that.

I find the lack of transparency even more strange because the website for Coors’ Five Trail line of whiskeys clearly shows the blends that make up the various releases. They blend various Indiana, Kentucky, Tennessee, and Colorado whiskeys (bourbon, rye, and malt) into different products, and that’s awesome to know.

So…they are celebrating the founding of a Colorado company by a German immigrant with bourbon possibly made in Kentucky. It’s also weird that they didn’t lean into its Colorado origins, maybe by incorporating Colorado-made bourbon into the blend. The labeling is vague enough that it is possible, but the bourbon’s lack of a clear connection to Colorado feels strange. Maybe Coors is still working out how best to market and package their whiskey, but they already know what they’re doing with the bourbon in the bottle.
Let’s find out if this is something worth celebrating in this Barmen 1873 Bourbon review.
Thank you to Coors (and their media company) for providing this bottle. All opinions are still my own.
Barmen 1873 bourbon back

As an FYI, I bought and use these Glencairn glasses for everything (they’re the best): Glencairn Crystal Whiskey Glass Set of 6, Set of 4Set of 2, or just one. Full transparency, this is an affiliate link, so I may earn a commission if you buy this or something else from Amazon.

Barmen 1873 Bourbon smell

I initially smell dark honey, roasted oak, cinnamon, dried red apple and orange peel, and a little fennel and vanilla. Barmen 1873 is a pleasant-enough but fairly generic oak and spice-forward bourbon with a little bit of fruit underneath, I wish I could be more descriptive, but that’s really it.
It certainly doesn’t smell bad or unpleasant, but I struggle to write that it’s anything better than decent.
After swirling and rest, I smell darker honey, roasted oak, cinnamon, orange peel, and a little vanilla, fennel, and pumpernickel. There just isn’t that much to the scents. There’s some sweetness, oakiness, spiciness, and earthiness, but none of it is more than “that’s ok”.
Barmen 1873 is acceptable and inoffensive. It’s far from the “bottom shelf” unpleasant stuff like Jack Daniel’s, but it’s not necessarily a whole lot better either.
Barmen 1873 bourbon front

Barmen 1873 Bourbon taste and aftertaste

At first I taste honey, apricot, roasted and slightly dry oak, cinnamon, fennel, and a little bit of earthy pumpernickel and vanilla. Like the scents, Barmen 1873 Bourbon is oak and spice-forward with about equal amounts of sweetness.
It tastes generic…pleasant enough…but very generic with decent viscosity and richness for the ABV. It really just tastes like a four-ish year old bourbon with OK barrel selection, but not quite the bottom of the barrel stuff that goes into something like Benchmark Old No. 8.
It’s not flat, but it’s also not lively…it’s uninspiringly acceptable.
After “chewing”, I taste honey, vanilla, roasted oak, cinnamon, dried apricot, fennel, dried red apple and orange peel, and some earthy woodiness, pumpernickel, and roasted grain.
The finish leaves honey, fennel, roasted oak, and a little dry earthiness and woodiness.
I’ve had this type of young-ish bourbon profile over and over again. It’s burned into my senses and I don’t really need to drink more of it.
While little more fruit and overall fullness come out, which are good additions, it still drinks on the younger side with the oak and spice-forward flavors, and not nearly enough fruitiness and sweetness to feel compelling or mature.
There’s nothing “off” or “wrong” with Barmen 1893 Bourbon, but there’s nothing particularly interesting or noteworthy about it either.
Again, Barmen 1893 is uninspiringly acceptable to drink.
Barmen 1873 bourbon fb
I’ve unfortunately lost some Glencairn’s while in transit, and that made me very sad. So, I wised up and bought this Glencairn Travel Case that comes also comes with 2 glasses so I don’t need to worry so much about them breaking. I think it’s great, and I think you’ll love it too. Seriously, if you already have glasses, protect them.

Barmen 1873 Bourbon Rating

Mid Shelf
I’ll write it again – Barmen 1873 is uninspiringly acceptable. I keep writing that because it keeps coming to mind as I keep searching for more complexity or character…and don’t find it. This doesn’t even outperform the sub-$25 Benchmark Bonded or Jim Beam Double Oak. It’s far from a terrible or unpleasant bourbon…it’s just nondescript and not that interesting to drink.
I’m struggling to understand the point of this bourbon, apart from trying to get a piece of the whiskey pie by targeting the not-quite-expensive but also not-quite-cheap segment. This is not how you win people over…and I am far from won over.
I get that Molson Coors is really behind in the whiskey industry, which is why they bought Blue Run and probably rushed out some other brands into an already very crowded market. The challenge is that people do not associate Coors with bourbon, so you have to do extra work to get people to come around to the idea that the makers of Coors Light have any idea what they’re doing.
Light beer doesn’t necessarily sell bourbon. Barmen 1873 is the type of bourbon that makes me wonder if they have no idea what they’re doing, because shelves are already crammed full with $30-40 bourbon. Stand out or fail.
After re-reading the website, it’s even more clear to me now that this bourbon is virtually all marketing and not enough substance to back it up. In fact, the website doesn’t say much of anything. This bourbon isn’t terrible, but this is not a good look for Molson Coors. I don’t trust the awards / competitions that are handing this bourbon such high praise, but I definitely trust my senses.
The best news I can provide is that you are free to choose what you want to buy. There are so many worthy options for under $40, and I can’t think of a compelling reason to buy Barmen 1873 Bourbon…so don’t.
Alex author
Meet the Author: Alex

I have far too much fun writing about whiskey and singlehandedly running The Whiskey Shelf to bring you independent, honest, and useful reviews, comparisons, and more. I’m proudly Asian American and can speak Cantonese, Mandarin, and some Japanese.

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Shattered glass really sucks, so if you’re on the move, this Glencairn-like stainless steel snifter glass should survive your travels. Full transparency, this is an Amazon affiliate link, so I may earn a commission if you buy this or something else from Amazon.

BrüMate NOS’R, Double-Wall Stainless Steel Whiskey Nosing Glass – 7oz (Matte Black)