Kentucky distillers are introducing some excellent bonded Bourbons. Bonded whiskey is growing as a category. People are looking for the bonded labels because it is a sign of quality whiskey. Many of the smaller, artisan distilleries are creating bonded whiskey, but even the established distilleries are marketing bonded whiskey labels, many brands that have not been bonded whiskey for years. They are also putting out more of the established brands. Consumers want bonded whiskey and the distilleries are paying attention to that desire.
I have picked five brands that are new to the market. I have listed them here in alphabetical order. They are all excellent whiskeys that people may not have tried, but they should. Some are hard to find outside of Kentucky, but it will give people something to look for when visiting Kentucky.
- Barker’s Mill Bottled-n-Bond Bourbon: This is a bonded Bourbon from the M.B. Roland Distillery in Pembroke, Christian County, Kentucky. I always liked the whiskey coming out of this distillery in western Kentucky, but it can be hard to find. They are a small distillery and most of their bottles are distributed in the western part of the state and in the states west of their distillery. Westport Whiskey & Wine does make an effort to get their products in Louisville, but I have not seen it in many other stores. The whiskey is full of fruit flavors –almost brandy-like in flavor. Plums and berries with caramel and oak. It is well worth the effort to track down a bottle of this Bourbon.
- Benchmark Bottled-in-Bond Bourbon: Buffalo Trace has extended the Benchmark line of Bourbons and released several versions that include single barrel, full proof and bonded expressions. The bonded Bourbon is reasonably priced at around $20 and can be found in most Louisville liquor stores. It is also an excellent whiskey. Caramel apple with a little baking spice on the taste, with a peppery, oak finish. It is nice to see Buffalo Trace releasing whiskey that is reasonably priced and easy to find. Pick up a bottle and you will be glad you did.
- Jeptha Creed Bottled-in-Bond Bourbon: Jeptha Creed recently released their traditional Bourbon made with rye as a bonded Bourbon. They are known for making their whiskey with Bloody Butcher red corn, grown on their farm in Shelby County, Kentucky. This Bourbon has vanilla with baking spices and oak on the taste, with a dry oak and spice finish. It is easily found in most liquor stores in Louisville. They are waiting till they have six year old whiskey before they release their wheated version of Bourbon as a bonded whiskey, and I look forward to that day. This whiskey is very good, but when I tasted the wheated Bourbon at two years old, it was even better.
- Old McBrayer Bottled-in-Bond Bourbon: The McBrayer family has gotten back into the whiskey business with some excellent Bourbons. Their Judge McBrayer was contract distilled, but they sourced their bonded Bourbon from Bardstown Bourbon Company, who allowed them to do these barrels as a bonded whiskey with their DSP number on the label. It is excellent Bourbon with flavors of sweet corn, vanilla, citrus fruit and some pepper spice. It is hard to find because when the McBrayers announced its release, people pre-ordered every bottle they had. The good news is that there will be a second release later this year. Visit their website and sign up to get a bottle.
- Wilderness Trail Six Year Old Bottled-in-Bond Bourbon: Wilderness Trail is making excellent whiskey. This bottle is the wheated version of their Bourbon. It is as close to tasting whiskey made at the Stitzel-Weller Distillery as is being made these days. They use the sweet mash process and have a low barrel entry proof for their whiskeys. This gives this whiskey a caramel rich flavor with notes of ripe apples, tobacco and pepper spice. They are releasing an eight year old version of their Bourbon now and both are well worth purchasing.
Bonded whiskey is what I call the “sweet spot” of whiskey. It has more flavor than lower proofed whiskey and does not numb the taste buds like higher proof whiskeys. I look forward to every release of new bonded whiskeys. They show the public what a distillery is capable of making.
Photos Courtesy of Rosemary Miller