Bourbon Reviews, Distillery News and Information
Bardstown Bourbon Company
1500 Parkway Drive
Bardstown, KY 40004
Tour / Review
Please enjoy our Bardstown Bourbon Company Tour review!
A Different Kind Of Distillery
A visit to Bardstown Bourbon Company is unlike a visit to any other Kentucky distillery. The distillery’s founder, Peter Loften, had an entirely different vision of what a Kentucky distillery should be. As the self-described “first Napa Valley style destination on the Kentucky Bourbon Trail”, the folks at the Bardstown Bourbon Company are attempting “to combine distilling, culinary, and beverage expertise to create a modern, authentic bourbon experience.” And they are succeeding.
What makes Bardstown Bourbon Company a completely different kind of distillery? From the company’s very inception, it planned to distill for other companies via its “Collaborative / Custom Distilling Program”, and at the same time produce bourbon under its label. Initially, the majority of Bardstown’s production went to the Collaborative Program. However, as the years have gone by, the percentage of production that is intended for their labels has progressively increased.
The entire operation is meticulously coordinated and overseen by Vice President for Operations, Justin Willett. Utilizing state-of-the-art software, all processes can be controlled, monitored, tracked, and evaluated from within the distillery as well as remotely. This coordination and efficiency enabled rapid growth, with Bardstown Bourbon Company now having a production of 110,000 barrels per year.
The distillery in its entirety sits on 100 acres of Nelson County farmland. Once upon a time, corn grew here, but stalks have been replaced by Bardstown Bourbon Company’s ongoing expansion. The distillery proper contains two 12,500-gallon cookers, 32 fermenters, two 36-inch column stills, and two 500-gallon doublers. A new third still has been installed and will be up and running soon. Currently, the BBC operates 24/7 producing around 300 barrels a day, while barreling the new make takes place Monday through Friday.
The bourbon ages in an ever-increasing number of warehouses which hold 23,000 or 58,000 barrels each. Distilling is done under the direction of Master Distiller Steve Nally, formerly of Maker’s Mark, and the watchful eye of Head Distiller, Nick Smith. Needless to say, with Steve Nally at the helm, their first distillate produced back in 2014 was a wheated bourbon. Today the company distills over 40 different mash bills.
Bardstown Bourbon Company Offers Many Visitor Experiences
Our first visit to the Bardstown Bourbon Company was during their early days, back in July 2019 (check out the video here), prior to their visitor program getting underway, and actually before their visitor center was even fully constructed. So, we have been fortunate to witness their growth and development over the years. Today, a visitor to the BBC can choose from multiple activities, which they refer to as “Experiences”. It turns out that this is the perfect term to describe all that the BBC offers its visitors. While a more conventional tour (From Distillate to Barrel Tour) is offered, most “Experiences” offer additional activities that are well-defined by the moniker.
A visitor currently can choose from a total of nine different Experiences at Bardstown Bourbon Company. These include the “From Distillate to Barrel Tour” (watch the video here), which consists of a tour of the distillery, a tasting of some of Bardstown’s whiskeys, and an opportunity to taste bourbon straight from the barrel; the “Rickhouse Barrel Thieving”, formerly known as the “Honey Spot Thieving Flight Tour“, takes place in the rickhouse and is similar to a barrel pick experience; and “Shaken & Stirred” (a cocktail class). For the full list of Experiences, see below. The Experiences are all offered on different schedules, some multiple times a day and others only once per month. Check the Bardstown Bourbon Company website for details and to schedule your activities.
Here’s the list of all the experiences currently offered by Bardstown Bourbon Company as of January 2024:
- From Distillate to Barrel – Distillery Tour & Tasting
- Shaken & Stirred – Cocktail Class
- Rickhouse Barrel Thieving – Taste Directly From the Barrel
- Fill Your Own Bottle VIP Experience – vintage pour, tour, bottle filling, tasting
- A Taste Of Whiskey History – A vintage whiskey tasting
- The Art Of Blending – Learn to create your own blend
- Behind The Scenes – Tour & Tasting With Head Distiller Nick Smith
- Tour With The Master – Tour & Tasting with Master Distiller Steve Nally
- Bourbon & Bites – Bourbon & Food Pairing
On-Site Restaurant and Bar
The Bardstown Bourbon Company was also the first of the Kentucky distilleries to open a large-scale full-service restaurant and bar onsite. Known simply as the Kitchen & Bar, it’s the perfect place to begin or finish your Bardstown “Experience”. The food menu is designed with a strong Kentucky flare. The Country Ham w/Bourbon Grains appetizer is a delicious assortment of local hams and cheeses and is perfect for sharing. If you’re ready to dive right in, the Fried Chicken and Grits or the BBC Burger are sure to delight the taste buds and satisfy the hunger. And don’t forget their boozy milkshakes for dessert.
The Bar at the Bardstown Bourbon Company, like its kitchen counterpart, is full-service. The barrel-aged Old Fashion and the barrel-aged Manhattan are not to be missed. If bourbon isn’t your heart’s desire, don’t worry. The cocktail menu features rum and gin-forward cocktails as well as their version of Sangria. The BBC also has a vast vintage whiskey selection for those interested in trying a little taste of history. The Bar’s true gift, however, is that unlike other distillery bars that offer just their products, the Bar at the Bardstown Bourbon Company features their whiskeys, the whiskeys that they contract-distill through their Collaborative Distilling Program, and whiskeys from many other Kentucky Distilleries.
Bardstown Bourbon Company Has a Patio, Too!
As if that wasn’t enough, all this whiskey and culinary goodness can now be enjoyed in the outdoors! A newer addition to the Bardstown Bourbon Company’s Kitchen & Bar is the outdoor patio and bar. It is typically open from late spring and into October weather permitting. Diners and drinkers can enjoy the outdoor ambiance of the beautiful distillery grounds. The summer months feature live music on select Fridays. Reservations can be made on Open Table all year long, and are certainly encouraged to secure the ideal time during your visit.
Gift Shop and Collaborative Distilling Program
Would you like to take a special bottle home with you? Well the Bardstown Bourbon Company is happy to oblige. Their gift shop sells a wide array of BBC whiskeys, as well as logo items. Also on display are some of the whiskeys from the distilleries or non-distiller producers (NDPs) who are part of their Collaborative Distilling Program. You may have heard of a few of them: Belle Meade, Kentucky Owl, Jefferson’s, Calumet, and Chicken Cock, to name a few. Transparency is king at the BBC, and that’s cool!
There’s no question that Bardstown Bourbon Company is in a class all its own. Whether it’s an elevated distillery experience, a taste of terrific whiskeys, new and/or old, or a taste of amazing cuisine, this Napa-style destination located in the heart of Kentucky bourbon country does not disappoint. Always innovative and well-executed, the BBC is a distillery we never tire of visiting!
Check out our Bardstown Bourbon Company videos and related posts
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