Friends, we’re back with another review. This time it’s the Old Bardstown Bourbon review. We’ve got three bottles to discuss here: Old Bardstown 90 Proof, Old Bardstown Estate Bottled, and Old Bardstown Bottled in Bond.
An interesting note on these bottles is that the Bottled in Bond and the 90 Proof both say that they are distilled and bottled by Willett Distillery. The Estate Bottled, though, claims to be bottled by the Old Bardstown Distilling Company. This is a tactic used by Willett when they are bottling bourbon that they did not make.
Bardstown line is a product of Willett Distillery just outside of Bardstown,
As mentioned earlier, we can infer from Willet's labeling tactics that the bourbon inside the Bottled in Bond and the 90 Proof is different from the bourbon in the Estate Bottled.
But enough about the labels. Let’s get going on this Old Bardstown Bourbon review!
Old Bardstown Bourbon 90 Proof
with the Old Bardstown 90 Proof. The bottle design does nothing to get you
excited, frankly. It’s a fairly plain rectangular bottle with a classic
rectangular logo. In fact, it doesn’t even have a cork, just a simple plastic
itself is simple, with a crest under the name above. Nothing to write home about,
and certainly not as elegant as their Family Estate bottles.
We know from
the bottle that the whiskey is 90 proof. The mash bill is suggested to be
somewhere in the range of 72 percent corn, 13 percent rye, and 15 percent malted
barley. What’s interesting here is the higher-than-average percentage of malted
barley in the mash bill.
The nose of
this bourbon is classic. You get the familiar smells of caramel, vanilla, and
just a hint of floral notes. What isn’t so classic are the hints of hazelnuts
and sandalwood that creep in after a few sniffs.
The palate is,
again, a very traditional bourbon palate with soft notes of caramel, oak, and
vanilla. At 90 proof this is not a very bold bourbon and the volume levels of
the flavors reflect that. You aren’t overpowered or challenged by anything
The finish is
medium and easy. You get notes of corn, vanilla and even some dark fruits like
Again, this is not a bourbon to challenge you, but more of a beginner's bourbon or a warm-up to something else.
Old Bardstown Bourbon Bottled in Bond | Image credit: u/Prepreludesh @Reddit
If you aren’t
familiar “Bottled in Bond” or if you’ve forgotten, here’s a quick refresher.
The Bottled in Bond Act was passed by congress in 1897 as the country’s first
consumer protection act.
This bill was
passed in response to rectifiers tampering with whiskey to make it look older
or have more flavor than it had. This included despicable techniques like using
tobacco spit or shoe polish to color the whiskey so they could sell it for
To qualify as
“Bottled in Bond” a whiskey must be at least four years old, be bottled at 100
proof, the contents of the bottle must be distilled in a single distilling
season, and come from one distiller.
So, because this is labeled Bottled in Bond we know that the whiskey in the bottle is at least four years old, and is 100 proof. The mash bill for this bourbon is the same as the 90 Proof: 72 percent corn, 13 percent rye, and 15 percent malted barley.
On the label, you have an idyllic Kentucky horse scene in front of a stately manor. The label includes a nice reminder that because it is a Bottled in Bond whiskey, it has been aged under “U.S. Government supervision.” Other than those charming features, this is an outdated looking bottle. It looks like a bottle you’d look right past on a liquor store shelf.
If you do
decide to buy this bottle, it may be a good choice to use this as your table
whiskey or put it in the decanter on your bar cart. Don’t have a decanter? We
have many handcrafted and beautiful choices for you to look at here.
So, the bottle is underwhelming.
The nose on
this whiskey has a sticky-sweet bubblegum smell. It’s reminiscent of chewy
candies that are pink--like bubble gum, pink starburst, and a strawberry Laffy
Taffy. Despite its obvious age of at least four years, it smells young with a
lot of green corn coming through. It doesn’t get better, either, as the sweet
smells are overtaken by strong alcohol vapors. This is not a good whiskey to
does get a little better, though, with notes of Nutter Butter bars and vanilla
hard candies. That is sadly short-lived as the ethanol crashes through with
unpleasant harshness. Fortunately, this whiskey is thin and doesn’t coat your
The finish is
strong, like a 100-proof whiskey. Unfortunately, you won’t want it to stick
around very long. There are dark fruit notes that are quickly gone and you are
left with a stale, bitter nuttiness. It’s unpleasant.
This whiskey is not one we would recommend buying. You could try it for yourself at a bar first if you want to make sure.
Old Bardstown Bourbon Estate Bottled
This is a more interesting bottle than the other two. This bottle features a completely different shape. Instead of being tall and rectangular, it’s squatty and round. It also features a wax-dipped top, giving at least the appearance of increased production value.
The label is
similar to the other bottles and features that idyllic horse scene again. No
one knows what Estate Bottled means, but we like that the whiskey is 101 proof,
or 50.5 percent alcohol.
Again, this whiskey
was not made by Willett, but it’s long been the rumor that Willett sources
their juice from their neighbors at Heaven Hill.
The nose on
this bourbon is interesting. Not present are the traditional bourbon notes. Instead, you smell sherry and mint. There is
a little sweetness once you dig a bit deeper, but it’s not obvious.
This is very earthy for bourbon, without much sweetness. The whole taste is subdued, and what spice is present never really materializes.
The finish is
where this whiskey finally gets settled. Amazingly, the finish is more
flavorful than the palate, with much more oak present. Also, the spice finally
shines through. Despite the proof, it has little burn and the finish is
aren’t very big fans of this whiskey.
Well, that’s what we thought of these three whiskeys. Now let’s see another set of Old Bardstown Bourbon review from one more group - the Instagram enthusiasts!
“Had it at Proof on Main and wow, really surprised me...wish I bought more!" - @bourbonrado
“It's heavy with cinnamon and black pepper notes.” - @bourbonwithasideofwhiskey
“A great workhorse in the bourbon world.” - @upstatebourbon
“It has a ton of those traditional #Willett flavors and is almost too easy to sip! I highly recommend this for the price.” - @my.bourbon.journal
“Underrated and underhyped...” - @barrelandbrew
“First taste brings in quite a bit more oak and char along with spice, cinnamon, and caramel.” - @chicagowhiskeyguy
Well, there you have it, folks - the Old Bardstown Bourbon review. These are bourbons that get people talking. Next time you’re at the store or your local watering hole, try some Old Bardstown and let us know what you think.
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