House of Bardstown Review

The Bardstown Bourbon Company hosted a unique pop-up event called "House of Bardstown" in Louisville, Kentucky. Guests were treated to a multi-room experience featuring themed cocktails, delicious food, and unique whiskey tastings. The event aimed to showcase the brand's versatility and connect with a broad audience of drinkers who enjoy both cocktails and neat pours alike.
House of Bardstown
Bardstown Bourbon Company
Louisville, KY
February 2024
Review

Please enjoy our Bardstown Bourbon Company “House of Bardstown” review!

The First “House of Bardstown” Event: Louisville, Kentucky

On Friday February 23, 2024, we had the pleasure of attending the second night of Bardstown Bourbon Company’s “The House of Bardstown” pop-up event, in Louisville, KY. When I first read about the event, I really didn’t have any idea what it was all about. However, the Bardstown Bourbon Company does everything first class, so I figured we would be in for a treat. And were we ever!

The House of Bardstown Is Shrouded in Mystery

When we registered for the chance to be selected to attend the House of Bardstown, we had very little to go on. The only available information was the scant narrative on the event’s website. It begins “Step through the doors of the House of Bardstown and embark on an unparalleled journey of sensory delight.” Well, that sounded pretty good; who doesn’t love a little sensory delight?

An Unbelievable Pop-Up Experience

It then went on to say “Three cities, four rooms, and one unbelievable pop-up experience showcasing Bardstown Bourbon Company’s portfolio of whiskies.” “House of Bardstown is more than just an event; it’s a journey through the heart of bourbon culture as told by the most innovative and forward-looking distillery in Kentucky. Throughout the evening, Bardstown Bourbon will guide guests through a deliciously immersive journey of the brand’s most innovative whiskey expressions, fostering a unique, lingering connection that transcends the glass.”

That description is enigmatic enough, but adding to the intrigue, guests were not told where the event would take place. Instead, we were instructed to arrive at the Bardstown Bourbon Company “Louisville Homeplace” in downtown Louisville, where we would then be shuttled to an undisclosed location. Well, it’s their show, and it’s free, so that’s what we did.

Frootbat - Making hard to find liquor easy to buy
The Pick-Up Point

Upon arrival at the BBC Louisville Homeplace, we waited briefly, and then were invited inside. Our hosts promptly offered us a welcome pour of Bardstown Origin Series Bourbon. Two special cocktails were also available for purchase, although there was barely time, as the schedule was closely adhered to.

Frootbat - Making hard to find liquor easy to buy
Don’t Lose Your House of Bardstown Key!

Prior to boarding the busses, we were each given a key. We were told that it would open the house and all of its rooms. “Don’t lose your key”, we were cautioned multiple times. A couple of important instructions were also provided: Listen to what Celine and Francis (the maid & butler), tell us to do, and always follow the rules of the house. None the wiser, we were on our way.

The key to the House of Bardstown
The key to the House of Bardstown

It was a short ride to the House of Bardstown; around 15 minutes. The final leg of the journey took us up a hill on a dark, winding, wooded road. Upon arriving at our destination, we disembarked from the bus and joined the short line at the front door. The single level white house was quite large and was illuminated with multiple moving yellow balls of light, somewhat resembling a 70’s disco. Moments later, we were inside. Celine welcomed us and offered to take our coats, while simultaneously ensuring that everyone was neat and lint free. In addition, everyone was handed a welcome cocktail. Like all cocktails provided in the House of Bardstown, this one was designed to highlight one of Bardstown Bourbon Company’s spirits.

The House of Bardstown in Louisville, Kentucky
The House of Bardstown in Louisville, Kentucky
A Bar & Food In Every Room

As we continued into the house, we encountered the first bar. Here, we could choose cocktails or neat pours. As it turned out, each room in the House of Bardstown had a theme and a bar, and each bar had its own featured cocktail. This bar was the only one serving neat pours, so that is the route I took. I was offered a choice from any of the Bardstown Origin Series whiskeys, as well as a few options from their Collaborative Series. I began with the Goose Island Bourbon County Stout collaboration.

In the next room, the bar served a cocktail featuring Bardstown Bourbon Company’s Origin Series Rye. If one wanted a neat pour of the rye, it was back to the first bar. Cocktails were the feature of the evening at the House of Bardstown, and we’ll get into why that was the case, later on. In addition to the bar, there was a DJ and also a gentleman inviting us to participate in his game of cards. If we had chosen our card wisely, we would have received a prize. However, we chose poorly, so I do not know what prize I missed out on. Nonetheless, the cards each of us drew bestowed upon us “Insider Knowledge” about Bardstown Bourbon Company, a veritable prize in itself.

Last but not least, we had food. Lots of it. In this room, as in every room, was food. The small plated items fit each room’s theme, and, unsurprisingly, the food was excellent!

Charcuterie at the House of Bardstown Louisville
Charcuterie at the House of Bardstown
A Speakeasy, Charcuterie And A Tiki Bar, Too!

The other rooms on the first floor of the House of Bardstown included a very cool speakeasy, with a wonderful musical trio, and a Caribbean themed room, featuring a tiki bar and a delicious tuna ceviche. Cocktails made with Bardstown Bourbon Company spirits went with each of those themes, as well. Last but not least was a room with a giant charcuterie board, along with some other hot delicious food items.

But wait, there’s more! Next it was time to head downstairs. What more could await us there? Off to the right was a room with Karaoke. I was fairly certain no one wanted to hear me sing; no one ever has, so I didn’t see how this time would be any different. So, we continued on, to the large room at the end of the hall, simply known as the “Discovery Lab”.

Trio in the Speakeasy at the Bardstown Bourbon Company House of Bardstown
Trio in the Speakeasy at the House of Bardstown
The Discovery Lab

The Discovery Lab is where guests have an opportunity to “Discover”, a few of Bardstown Bourbon Company’s spirits, focusing on those which best highlight their blending skills. Four different stations awaited us. At each station there was a different whiskey, paired with a food item designed to enhance specific flavors in the spirit. Here we sampled 2 whiskeys from the Collaborative Series, the Chateau Doisy Daene paired with green grapes, and the Carter Cellars paired with a (not Carter Cellars) red wine. The other two pairings were the Discovery Series 11 paired with what may or may not have been dried cherries (my memory is a little fuzzy), and the Origin Series Straight Kentucky Bourbon paired with Strawberry Pop Rocks. Yes, you read that correctly – Strawberry Pop Rocks and Bourbon. Don’t knock it til you’ve tried it!

Is That Danny Bardstown?

The pièce de résistance of the Discovery Lab was Dan Callaway’s station. Dan is the Vice President for Hospitality & Product Development at Bardstown Bourbon Company. However, you may know him as @DannyBardstown on Instagram. Tucked away in the back corner of the Discovery Lab, Dan had shelves and a table full of various experimental whiskeys and barrel samples from his office. Guests could try all sorts of one-offs, some of which will see the light of day, and others which will not. Very cool!

Dan Callaway - Bardstown Bourbon Company House of Bardstown Louisville, Kentucky
Dan Callaway – House of Bardstown Louisville
This Must Have Been A Lot Of Work! But Why?

While we had a fantastic time at this event, I had a question that I am pretty sure was on many other people’s minds as well. Why would the Bardstown Bourbon Company spend so much effort and funds putting the House of Bardstown event together? And why hold it in Louisville, Kentucky, where everyone at the event was already well acquainted with the brand? Enquiring minds wanted to know! So, I asked that very question to Brandon Smith, Brand Manager at Bardstown Bourbon Company.

The goal of the House of Bardstown, in their own words, is to have an “innovative and engaging platform with which to introduce new people to the brand.” As a neat bourbon drinker, I was wondering why each room featured a cocktail, and why neat pours were only available at one bar. I think us “Bourbon Enthusiasts” often forget that most people don’t drink bourbon neat. In fact, Brandon reminded me that neat bourbon drinkers make up only 5% of bourbon consumers. The rest enjoy their bourbon in a mixed drink of some sort. Hence, Bardstown Bourbon’s focus on cocktails as a way to introduce new palates to the brand. Now it all makes sense to me.

Carter Cellars in the Discovery Lab - Bardstown Bourbon Company House of Bardstown Louisville, Kentucky
Carter Cellars in the Discovery Lab – House of Bardstown Louisville
House of Bardstown: Mission Accomplished

Let’s go back to that original description on the House of Bardstown website. Bardstown Bourbon Company’s goal was to “foster a unique, lingering connection that transcends the glass.” In that, Bardstown Bourbon Company has definitely succeeded. Regardless of whether one’s preference is cocktail or neat pour, it would be difficult to leave the House of Bardstown without feeling some connection to the brand. Mission accomplished, Bardstown Bourbon Company. Mission accomplished.

Have you attended the House of Bardstown? What did you think? If you would like to sign up for the opportunity to attend yourself, head over to the HOB website. If you’re wondering what goes on behind the scenes at the Bardstown Bourbon Company, then why not check out our Bardstown Bourbon Company Bottling Facility Tour and our Bardstown Bourbon Company Tour Review!

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