Bluegrass Distillers is an artisan distillery that was established in Lexington, Kentucky several years ago, but are moving to Midway, Kentucky this year. They hope to be completely moved to their new location by the end of 2021. The town of Midway formed a task force in order to attract an artisan distillery to Midway. Midway wants to be part of the growth of Bourbon tourism and gain the benefits from this new industry. Midway College has created a Bourbon Tourism program so attracting an artisan distillery to town seemed to be the next step. The owners of Bluegrass Distillers, Sam Rock, Nathan Brown and Ben Frazini listened to the proposal to move their distillery to Midway, made a few visits and agreed to do so. The distillery and visitors center will be north of town at the Elkwood Mansion.
Bluegrass Distillers provided several samples for Matt and I to taste. They have a Bottled-in-Bond Bourbon made with wheat; a barrel strength “high rye” Bourbon, and a barrel strength Bourbon made with blue corn and wheat. The mash bills for these whiskeys are all 75% corn, 21% rye or wheat and 4% malted barley. The Bourbons are 4 years old.
Bluegrass Distillers Blue Corn Bourbon: 75% Blue Corn, 21% wheat, 4% malted barley
Age: 4 Years Old
- Mike: Cornbread dough and alcohol at first approach. After letting it breath some fruit notes of berries and wild cherry comes out with some vanilla and oak,
- Matt: Corn, vanilla, cherries and oak. Not overly complex.
- Mike: Corn and vanilla with some pepper spice and blackberries, wild cherries and oak. Tasted with a dried cranberry and a little cinnamon spice comes out to join the fruit and vanilla. Tasted with a pecan and the oak comes forward and a note of lemon zest comes out.
- Matt: Buttered corn, ginger, vanilla and oak. The dried cranberry brings out some notes of cherry but still tastes heavily of vanilla and corn. The pecan brings out toasted oak, cayenne pepper notes and buttered corn.
- Mike: Medium long with oak and wild berries. The dried cranberry added spice notes of cinnamon and nutmeg. The pecan made oak tannins dominate the finish.
- Matt: A strong finish of oak and ginger. The dried cranberry brought out some notes of vanilla. The pecan brought out some notes of cayenne pepper and oak.
Bluegrass Distillers Bottled-in-Bond “Wheated Bourbon”: 75% yellow corn, 21% wheat, 4% malted barley
Age: 4 Years Old
- Mike: Caramel – Sugar Daddy candy, berries and cherries with a little oak.
- Matt: A hint of vanilla with some caramel and blackberries.
- Mike: Almost brandy-like with caramel and berry fruits – blackberry and raspberry, with some white pepper and oak. Tasted with a dried cranberry and most of the flavors are washed out leaving just notes of caramel. Tasted with a pecan and vanilla, berries and hazelnuts come forward.
- Matt: Blackberries and caramel with a little vanilla and oak. The dried cranberry mutes the berry notes and makes the caramel a salted caramel chew. The pecan makes the flavor dominated by vanilla and caramel.
- Mike: Medium long with oak and a few sweet berry notes. The dried cranberry shortened the finish and washes out most of the flavor, leaving only a little oak. The pecan made the finish longer with hazelnuts and oak.
- Matt: Medium long with oak, berries and a hint of vanilla. The dried cranberry lightened the finish leaving just a hint of oak and berries. The pecan brought out notes of maple syrup and oak.
Bluegrass Distillers “High Rye Bourbon”: 75% yellow corn, 21% rye, 4% malted barley
Age: 4 Years Old
- Mike: Corn and rye grassiness with floral notes, vanilla and sweet oak wood.
- Matt: Spaghetti O’s!!! Rye grass, corn, lavender and vanilla.
- Mike: Corn and rye grass with vanilla, oranges and apricots, with a little oak wood. Tasted with a dried cranberry and the fruit becomes citrus – blood oranges, tangerines. Tasted with a pecan and the oak and orange zest.
- Matt: Very creamy mouth-feel with rye, vanilla and tangerine. The dried cranberry brought out baking spice notes. The pecan makes it very wood forward with a note of orange zest.
- Mike: Long with oak and cinnamon spice. The dried cranberry sweetens the finish with lingering citrus notes. The pecan made the oak more tannic and the finish drier.
- Matt: Medium long with sweet ok and citrus. The dried cranberry makes the finish sweeter and shorter – almost like grenadine. The pecan brought out notes of cherry in the finish.
We decided that a little water helped both of the barrel strength whiskeys. It brought out more of the fruit and the caramel. I would pair these whiskeys with a cigar with some spicy notes in the smoke. I would smoke a Fuente Opus X.
Photos Courtesy of Rosemary Miller