The Southern Star Distillery is located in Statesville, North Carolina. In November of 2019, I visited the distillery with Ken Bernardo. The owners, Pete and Vienna Barger, gave us a personal tour and tasting. I had a chance to taste their new make and several of their other products. What impressed me the most was their wheat recipe Bourbon, that was only about two years old at the time. I have been looking forward to seeing it in the bottle, so when I saw a bottle at Westport Whiskey & Wine, I bought it. I am glad I did. It is excellent Bourbon. Matt and I sat down and tasted it and here are our tasting notes.

Southern Star Paragon Bourbon

Proof: 92

Age: No Age Statement


  • Mike: Very complex. Caramel. berries, milk chocolate, white pepper and oak wood.
  • Matt: Chocolate, blackberry cobbler, bananas, nutmeg and oak wood.


  • Mike: Caramel with cherries and dates, cinnamon, nutmeg and sweet oak wood. Tasted with a dried cranberry increases the fruit but the caramel and oak fade into the background. Tasted with a pecan and the fruit fades into the background, but the caramel and chocolate come out strong.
  • Matt: Dark chocolate and blackberries with nutmeg spice and sweet oak wood. The dried cranberry added a malty note like a chocolate malted milk candy. The pecan gave a taste of a Cadbury cream egg at Easter with some spicy peanuts.


  • Mike: Medium long with oak, spice and some lingering fruit notes. The dried cranberry made the finish longer and spicier. The pecan made the finish long and dry with oak and spice and lingering chocolate.
  • Matt: Long with oak and a cayenne pepper spice and lingering fruit notes. The dried cranberry brought out the malted milk ball chocolate notes well into the finish. The pecan added some pitted fruit notes.

I would pair this fine Bourbon with a My Father The Judge cigar. The chocolate notes in the smoke will pair well with the caramel and chocolate notes in the Bourbon.

Photos Courtesy of Rosemary Miller