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Bardstown Bourbon Collaborative Series Foursquare Review
Bardstown Bourbon Company’s Collaborative Series is an experiment in relevancy. While the still-young (but massive) distillery’s own whiskey came of age, it sourced choice, well-aged barrels and then finished them in a seemingly endless variety of used casks. Some, including the first Château de Laubade finish, as well as the Triple Stave Blend, raised eyebrows and garnered best-of awards. Others fell just a bit short — fun exercises that ultimately yielded less-than-superlative whiskey.
Now, as Bardstown’s own distillate finds its way onto the bottling line, the company’s collaborations continue. One of the latest is the first link with Foursquare, a Barbados-based rum distillery that reps say values “innovation and transparency throughout their production process” in the same way as Bardstown Bourbon Company.
The whiskey in question is a blend of straight whiskeys with two mash bills:
- 7 year Indiana rye with a mash bill of 51 percent rye, 45 percent corn, and 4 percent malted barley (90 percent of the blend)
- 17 year Tennessee bourbon with a mash bill of 84 percent corn, 8 percent rye, and 8 percent malted barley (10 percent of the blend)
The resulting blend is then aged for 23 months in Foursquare rum barrels. We don’t have much more info on the exact type of barrels used; Foursquare’s distillery, it’s worth noting, produces rum from both sugarcane juice and sugarcane molasses.
Can this rum-kissed concoction stand out in a market with more finishes than ever? Was that 23 months of finishing time too long, too short, or just right? Let’s find out.
Bardstown Bourbon Collaborative Series Foursquare: Stats and Availability
Bardstown Bourbon’s Collaborative Series Foursquare Rum Finish is available at the company’s Bardstown-based gift shop. It’s also available at select retailers across 26 US states. Consumers can also find a limited quantity available at Seelbachs.com.
The company says around 3,000 cases (each with 12 bottles) will be released in total. That’s a pretty big release for a finished whiskey, even from a major producer. Even a few months after release, it’s widely available online and for close to the MSRP of $160. With its more successful collaborative releases (Château de Laubade being the prime example), Bardstown Bourbon will sometimes release subsequent batches, though the base whiskey blend could change pending availability.
Bardstown Bourbon Collaborative Series Foursquare Review
As with all of VinePair’s whiskey reviews, this was tasted in a Glencairn glass and rested for at least five minutes.
On the nose, baked apples covered in melted caramel hit early. It’s not a terribly dark caramel, and the sweetness is big on fruit and freshness. (More on that in a bit.) A little deeper in, there’s a cacophony of baked nuttiness: almonds, walnuts, and pecans.
The nose takes its time to fully unfold, but it invites rather than frustrates. By the third or fourth whiff, a vibrant set of rye notes comes through: herbal tones including dill, baking spice in the form of cloves, and pineapple. It’s a bit like smelling a honey-baked, clove-studded ham right out of the oven. (With pineapple rings and a couple maraschino cherries, of course.)
There’s some rich oak here, and it’s tricky to tell how much of that is coming from the 17 year Tennessee bourbon. But it’s a nice pairing, the dark and tannic with the sweet.
One thing this nose isn’t: Overpoweringly sweet, syrupy, or dominated by rum so much you can’t smell the underlying whiskey.
Thankfully, this tastes just like whiskey with a bit of rum on the palate, not the other way around. That’s almost shocking given the over-reliance on heavy cask finishes in today’s American whiskey market. I even taste a bit of the oak from the bourbon right before the sweet, funky-fruity notes from the rum come in on the midpalate.
As with the nose, there’s plenty of clove, baked oranges, and pineapples on the palate.
The mouthfeel is — and I say this in a positive way — refreshingly thin compared to some other rum cask finishes on the market, which get so tangled up in their own sweetness it’s difficult to remember what you’re even drinking.
All three components stand out here. The rye — a low-rye mash bill by all definitions — brings an adaptable base with herbs and its own light, grain-forward sweetness. The old bourbon adds depth and welcome dryness, which balances out the additional sweet, fruity, and stewed notes from the rum finish.
That rum influence builds on the finish, again baked apples and a light caramel. Even though it’s just 10 percent of the blend, the 17 year bourbon once again flashes bright here; it brings just enough dark and heavy oak notes to offset continued herbaceousness from the rye.
A small downside comes at the extreme end of the finish. There’s a stronger-than-expected “hug” here, and the pour loses just a touch of elegance as ethanol barely overpowers some flavors I hoped would linger.
Bardstown Bourbon Collaborative Series Foursquare Rating
With this Foursquare rum finish, Bardstown Bourbon Company’s Collaborative Series hits one of its highest notes to date. The blend isn’t a perfect whiskey by any means, but it showcases a level of restraint I wish more brands exhibited when finishing their spirits.
In all fairness, it helps that the brand — with impressive purchasing and sourcing power — picked solid base whiskeys for the blend. But Bardstown also monitored the cask-finishing closely enough to pick the correct amount of time in those Foursquare rum barrels. It’s difficult to imagine a shorter or longer stint producing whiskey as balanced and delicious. In this case, 23 months was quite the sweet spot.