Old Bardstown is a brand that dates back to the 1930s. It was a flagship brand for the Willett Distillery when they started distilling at the end of Prohibition. I have had some of that whiskey from an old bottle and it was a really good Bourbon. When the 1970s decline in Bourbon sales and the oil shortage encouraging the investment in alcohol as a fuel, the Willett Distillery closed down beverage alcohol production and tried to shift to fuel production, but that experiment failed. Thankfully Evan Kulsveen kept a level head and started an independent bottling operation to keep the family in the Bourbon industry. He spent the next thirty years purchasing the distillery from other family members with the dream to re-open the distillery and make Bourbon. In the meantime he purchased whiskey from the other distilleries and created brands. More importantly in my opinion, he kept the Old Bardstown brand alive. I really liked the flavor profile of the Old Bardstown 100 proof that was being bottled in the years he was sourcing whiskey, but it was a different flavor profile than what was bottled from the old family distillery.

In 2012 Evan’s dream was accomplished and the distillery started distilling again. In 2016 they had whiskey made at the distillery available and started selling the Old Bardstown Bottled-in-Bond again. The flavor differs from the product they sold in the years they were sourcing whiskey which was very good whiskey. But different is not bad. No, it is not bad at all. It has been a while since I had a drink of the pre-1980s Old Bardstown but I would say the new has more in common with that flavor profile than the sourced whiskey, but I would not say it is the same. I think I like the new Old Bardstown the best of all three versions. Here are my notes on this latest Bourbon.

Old Bardstown Bottled-in-Bond

Proof: 100

Age: 4 years old

Nose: Vanilla and fruit – berries and dates with some baking spices and oak.

Taste: Corn, vanilla and the sweet spices – nutmeg and cinnamon with the berries and cherries in the background. Tasted with a dried cranberry and the vanilla and fruits really come forward. Tasted with a pecan and the fruit becomes more citrus and the spice becomes peppery.

Finish: Spicy and dry with oak lingering in a pleasant manner for some time. The cranberries drive the spice out of the taste and into the finish where it intensifies and lingers with some of the fruit sweetness. The pecan makes the finish very dry and peppery.

I really like this Bourbon and today I am pairing this with my pipe. My Kremer’s Black Royal pipe tobacco brings out some caramel in the Bourbon and the Bourbon gives the tobacco a bit of a coffee note. A very good pairing. I do hope that they plan on doing an older version of this whiskey. I think it would be heavenly at eight years old.

Photos Courtesy of Michael Veach