Leiper's Fork Bottled in Bond Bourbon Review [In Depth]

Leiper's Fork Bottled in Bond Bourbon

Alex author
Founder, writer
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Leiper's Fork Bottled in Bond Bourbon Details

Distillery: Leiper’s Fork

Type & Region: Bourbon, Tennessee, USA

Alcohol: 50%

Composition: 70% Corn, 15% Wheat, 15% Malted Barley

Aged: 5 years (website states 4, bottle states 4)

Color: 1.5/2.0 on the color scale (auburn, polished mahogany)

Price: $80

From the company website:

Rich aromas of freshly made pralines coated in rich mild chocolate beautifully blends with notes of antique oak and fig jam. Delightful rich flavors of butterscotch, sweet herbs, and dried citrus smoothly coats the palate. The finish is a complex balance of fresh mint, luxardo cherries and maple cinnamon cookies.

Leiper's Fork Bottled in Bond Bourbon overview

There are other distilleries in Tennessee besides Jack Daniel’s, George Dickel, and Uncle Nearest. Those three may be the biggest names in Tennessee, but in fact, there are a lot of them. Leiper’s Fork is one of a growing number of craft distilleries trying to make their mark on the whiskey world.
Founded by Lee and Lynlee Kennedy in Franklin, Tennessee, they filled their first barrels in 2016. Now, they distill about 25,000 gallons of whiskey per year, which is enough volume to fill give or take 500 barrels per year. Not all of it will go into barrels, as they also sell new make, but I suspect that most of it is barreled. To that point, they distill bourbon, Tennessee whiskey (still bourbon), and rye.
This review covers the bourbon (or one of the bourbons at least), which is a 5 year old bottled in bond wheated bourbon. Wait…there’s wheated bourbon coming from Tennessee? That’s a fun fact and a cool concept. Having a 5 year bourbon in the market is an impressive feat too. While 5 years seems young when the big distilleries have so much 7+ year old bourbon on shelves, 5 years is a really long time when you’re just starting out. I want to mention this again – the bottle states 4 years old, but the website states 5. For this review, I’ll just go with 5 years old.
Think about it – what were you doing 5 years ago? At least as of this review, I was living in a different place, hadn’t lived in Japan yet, and this blog was less than 1 year old. So in that sense, 5 years is still a fairly long amount of time and so much can happen in that time while the bourbon quietly rests in oak.
For background – bottled in bond is an important term in American whiskey with a lot of meaning, and was initially created as a way to guarantee a certain level of quality and safety in a time (the last 1800’s) when there was a lot of funny business.
People were tampering with it, adulterating, and generally doing other unsavory things to stretch it out to make a buck. The Bottled in Bond act put in rules, many of which aren’t that important anymore, to guarantee a certain level of purity and trustworthiness. Bottling it at the distillery also made a big difference.
Here’s most of what it entails
  • Distilled in one season in one year (so the barrels in a blend were barreled within a few months of each other. This means that you cannot blend barrels from different years or seasons, so you don’t get blends of 4 year and 8 year bourbon)
  • Same master distiller
  • Bottled at 100 proof
  • At least 4 years old
  • Aged in a government bonded warehouse
  • No additives or funny business
Let’s find out if their Tennessee approach to bourbon yields Leiper’s Fork Bottled in Bond Bourbon review.
Thank you to Leiper’s For for providing this bottle. All opinions are still my own.
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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.

Leiper's Fork Bottled in Bond Bourbon smell

Leiper’s Fork Bottled in Bond has honey, dried cherry, cranberry, roasted oak, caraway seed, orange peel, vanilla yogurt (with a slight funk you can get from yogurt), cinnamon, clove, and mustiness. The orange and cranberry scents remind me a lot of Chattanooga 111 Proof, which is nice.
While this smells good for the most part, that sour yogurt-y funk is a little odd for me. Overall though, so far it’s bright, sweet, and fruity with some youthful funk to it.
After swirling and rest, I smell dark honey, orange peel, dried cherry, slight sourness / tartness, vanilla, roasted oak, caraway seed, and cinnamon. Something about the tartness stands out, but I’m not sure if it’s in a good or not so good way.
Leiper’s Fork Bottled in Bond is pleasant enough with scents that still feel fairly young and immature, with a mix of dark sweetness, tart fruit, oak, and earthiness. It’s odd because as dark as color and scents are, just about everything else hasn’t caught up yet.
It’s a strange experience, although it’s not necessarily unpleasant one.
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Leiper's Fork Bottled in Bond Bourbon taste and aftertaste

The flavors start with honey, dry caraway seed, roasted oak, cinnamon, roasted grain, cranberry, vanilla, and dried orange peel. Leiper’s Fork Bottled in Bond Bourbon does not taste so great. It’s not terrible, but it has a lot of dry earthiness and graininess that I don’t like. As dark it is, the oak influence is there expected, but there’s not nearly enough of everything else
With hard “chewing”, I get honey, a lot of earthiness, toasted oak, cinnamon, tart cranberry, roasted grain, and vanilla. Leiper’s Fork Bottled in Bond Bourbon has some good character here, but it feels unbalanced and immature because it’s too tart, earthy, and woody for its own good.
The finish leaves honey, dry earthiness, oak, and dried cranberry. After “chewing”, I get honey, tart cherry, earthy caraway seed, oak, and fennel.
While this bourbon is wheated (so it does not contain any rye), the earthiness makes it feel like there’s 10-15% rye in here too. So even though this is 5 years old, this tastes more like it’s 2 years old. I can’t tell you why it’s that way, but it’s unfortunate and jarring to experience.
Young-ish craft bourbon doesn’t have to be this way, just look at Still Austin or Jeptha Creed making great 2-4 year old whiskey that’s flavorful and balanced (in their own unique ways).
It’s not bad, but I don’t really enjoy it either.
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.

Leiper's Fork Bottled in Bond Bourbon Rating

Mid Shelf
It’s crazy how a bourbon that looks so dark can be so misleading. Seriously, it has the hue of a 12+ year old bourbon, but then shows its true colors by smelling and tasting younger than it’s 5 years of age. It is unfortunate to say the least.
While it doesn’t exhibit the glaringly obvious signs of an immature bourbon, especially intense earthy graininess (there’s still some of that too), the funky vanilla doesn’t help and the overall lack of definition, depth, and any pop doesn’t give me warm and fuzzy feelings either. I don’t know why this is the way it is, and I have no idea what can be done to improve this.
It’s not all bad though. The good traits that I’m looking for are there, especially the sweetness, fruitiness, and fullness, but there’s just too much of the youthful earthiness, grain, and sourness to distract from it. It’s not all bad, hence the “Mid Shelf” rating, but at the moment it just isn’t an interesting or compelling whiskey that I’d want to drink again. And for $70-80…the price is unjustified and should be avoided. Hopefully it gets a lot better with time.
I may be harsh, but I’m not here to bash craft distilleries, just as much as I don’t take money from any of them to review their whiskey. I mention that because there are many craft distilleries out there that are producing great whiskey. I’ve received a bunch from those distilleries / their media companies, so I always strive to be as honest as possible with each review.
Regardless of whether the bottle is given to me free of charge, I still don’t enjoy being this critical of a whiskey, and by extension the distillery. I don’t like writing that all their hard work and waiting doesn’t jive with me.
Honestly, this isn’t for me…and I hope then can find ways to improve their bourbons.
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)