In September of 2016, I stepped foot inside the massive Bardstown Bourbon Company for the very first time. The occasion was a media hardhat tour, and I recall being thrilled that we actually got to wear a hardhat since construction was still going on all around us. I knew big things were in store for this new kid on the block, and looking back now, isn’t that the understatement of the year?
They’ve since expanded several times, going from 600,000 proof gallons per year to 7 million proof gallons — making them the seventh largest distillery in the United States. A majority of what BBCo makes is for other clients/brands/companies, but of course they dedicate some time on the still to themselves.
Six years ago they put some barrels down under the astute leadership of Master Distiller Steve Nally, and I’m happy to announce the three expressions are ready for their spotlight as part of the Origin Series.
“The Origin Series is the first opportunity to taste an expression that is 100 percent our whiskey,” said Dan Callaway, VP of Product Development for BBCo, in a news release. “We’ve put years of patience into this bottle, waiting six years until we felt it was truly ready to share with the world. The full technical capabilities of our distillery are on display with these three bespoke products.”
The Origin Series consists of a high-rye Kentucky Straight Bourbon Whiskey, a wheated Bottled-in-Bond Bourbon, and a Kentucky Straight Rye Whiskey. It will replace the distillery’s Fusion Series, which included some of their younger distillate blended with aged whiskey that was sourced. The popular Discovery Series (blends of sourced aged whiskey) and Collaboration Series (finished whiskeys) will continue to be released.
The new 6-year-old whiskeys will debut in early 2023 and should not be hard to find — at the distillery and in your local liquor stores and bars. They’ll be released across the country in 24 states and will range in price from $44.99-$69.99. Also worth noting, BBCo will be starting a single barrel program for on- and off-premise retailers, so be on the lookout for single-barrel store picks.
I was fortunate to get samples of the three flagship products that make up the Origin Series, so let’s dive into them one by one. No hardhat needed.
Origin Series Kentucky Straight Bourbon Whiskey
96 Proof | $44.99
With a mash bill of 60% corn, 36% rye and 4% malted barley, this high-rye bourbon is phenomenal from the get-go. On the nose I get candied peach drizzled in caramel — and some hints of baked apple and citrus.
And on the palate those fruit notes come to life, sprinkled with cinnamon, nutmeg, more caramel and a reward of vanilla on the finish. I get the spice up front from the rye, but by the time it reaches my throat, it’s as smooth as molasses.
Knowing I can get a quality bourbon like this under $50 makes me happy.
Origin Series Bottled-in-Bond
100 Proof | $49.99
This Bottled in Bond release uses a wheated mash bill of 68% corn, 20% wheat and 12% malted barley. There is no sting or tingling with this one because there is no rye to be found, but what you get is a well-balanced, soft bourbon with layers of creme brûlée, toffee and even a little mint on the palate.
Of course there’s the familiar caramel and milk chocolate notes swirled up in there as well, and on the finish, I get the flavor combination of sucking on a Werther’s Original while taking a spoonful of vanilla bean ice cream. Delicate is the word that keeps coming to mind for this bourbon — delicate and delicious.
I’d love to revisit this mash bill after two more years of aging and about seven proof points higher. It just might give Weller Antique a run for its money.
Origin Series Kentucky Straight Rye Whiskey
96 Proof | $69.99
With the standard rye whiskey mash bill of 95% rye and 5% malted barley, this release hits you with spice up front, but then it rewards with incredible notes of baked cherries, toasted marshmallow and dark chocolate-covered toffee (yes, there is such a treat at Muth’s Candies in Louisville, Ky.).
The finish is long and sweet, with a little mix of sugar and spice and all things nice. This is a sipping whiskey for sure — something I could pass the time with while sitting in front of a fire. There are so many complex layers of flavor going on here that these tasting notes might just be the tip of the iceberg.
I’d absolutely love to try this at barrel strength. Who’s signing up for a single barrel? Take me with you!