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Hardin's Creek Boston Bourbon Review
In 2022, Jim Beam announced and began releasing Hardin’s Creek, an ongoing series of whiskeys from some of the brand’s rarest stocks. The first two releases represented ends of the aging spectrum: Concurrent bottlings of 2 year old and 15 year old bourbon.
In 2023, Beam continued with “The Kentucky Series,” which features three 17-year-old Kentucky straight bourbon whiskeys. All feature the same age and mash bill, but each comes from a separate warehouse campus in the Beam portfolio. According to Beam, The Kentucky Series “takes whiskey fans on a journey of ‘Kentucky Terroir’” and highlights the impact of the warehousing environment on bourbon, compounded over nearly two decades.
After releasing 17-year expressions from both Clermont and Frankfort aging facilities, Beam is finishing the Kentucky Series with the Boston release (the Boston location is also referred to as The Booker Noe campus). The company also provides some in-depth stats on the campus: 139 meters of average elevation, 7.4 hours of average daily direct sunlight, and 28 total rackhouses.
Like its predecessors, Hardin’s Creek Boston is bottled at 110 proof. Let’s see how it stacks up.
Hardin's Creek Boston Bourbon: Stats and Availability
According to Beam, The Kentucky Series is a “limited-edition collection of ultra-rare expressions,” though as with many limited releases, the brand doesn’t provide more info on bottle count or distribution specifics.
The suggested retail price is $169.99, and while we’ve seen some recent Beam limited editions creep above that at retail, this isn’t a series that’s gone crazy on the markup and/or secondary market front. Basically, it isn’t the easiest bottle to find, but few if anyone is charging a multiple on the MSRP.
Hardin's Creek Boston Bourbon Review
As with all of VinePair’s whiskey reviews, this was tasted in a Glencairn glass and rested for at least five minutes.
The nose leads with hazelnut and chocolate (much like a certain name brand spread), which pair nicely with an ethanol kick very appropriate for 110 proof. Cinnamon sticks are next, followed by tanned leather and dried tobacco, along with an aroma of white pepper that lingers throughout. There’s plenty of oak here and a bit of mesquite, but it’s not quite tipping into BBQ territory like some Beam products can. (Think of certain Booker’s Bourbon releases.)
There’s not a ton in the way of fruit here beyond some fig jam and preserves, but even without that component, there’s a lovely balance.
At the very end of the nose, there are notes of peanut butter fudge, a nice surprise right before that first sip.
Simply put, this is an oak bomb backed by some characteristic Jim Beam nuttiness. Heavy, rich, dark oak hits on the front of the palate, carrying a medium level of honey sweetness with it as things move back across the tongue. The tannic leather really opens up just slightly further back, along with hazelnut and now also heavily toasted peanuts.
This bourbon has a thick, syrupy, and borderline-buttery mouthfeel that allows the flavors to sit and develop over all parts of the tongue.
There are some savory grain notes here as well, like toasted cereal and unsweetened oatmeal. Combined with the nutty notes, it’s a bit like peanut butter melted into a bowl of oatmeal. But add in those tannic elements — which don’t get overly astringent on the palate — and you get something else entirely.
There’s fruit jam, maybe a very rich strawberry, which provides welcome freshness. But overall, the palate lacks a point or two of brightness that I’d hoped for. Despite the very noticeable age, it doesn't get so oaky as to drown out other flavors, leading to a still-complex and tasty sip.
There’s a big pop of sweetness on the finish, which quickly turns dry, sweet, and very chocolaty, like a chocolate dust. The lingering finish then turns just slightly bitter, like cacao nibs, which isn’t lip-puckering but is still noteworthy and not quite the direction I was expecting. But at the very end there’s another hit of sweetness, which is both surprising and welcome.
Hardin's Creek Boston Bourbon Rating
Hardin’s Creek Boston tastes like every bit of its 17 years in the barrel, and it will please fans of both heavy oak influence and classic Beam flavors. At 110 proof, it’s bold without crossing the line into overly tannic, though it still lacks some of the finesse and well-roundedness we know the brand is capable of with whiskeys around this age. (Knob Creek 18 comes to mind as a good example.)
This is a very solid choice for those with a penchant for oak, and it could also be a gateway for budding bourbon fans who want an intro to higher proof, higher-aged whiskey, without going overboard.