Whiskey Review: Bardstown Bourbon Company Fusion Series #8 Kentucky Straight Bourbon Whiskey

I’ve known about Bardstown Distilling for a while, but only recently became more interested in their products after visiting the distillery. One thing I especially appreciate about the way they do business is their transparency about their product — as a younger distillery, they are not yet to the point where their bourbon is 100% theirs, and they aren’t afraid to state that on their bottles. With the number of newer distilleries sourcing bourbon or only doing blending, I think the honesty is refreshing. So after visiting, I grabbed a bottle of their Fusion Series #8 at my local store.



Peter Loftin was a businessman who got his start in the telecommunications business, founding his first company in 1983 at the age of just 25 and growing it into a multi million dollar success. In the following years, he became a serial entrepreneur, stepping into the spirits industry in 2016 when he decided to found the Bardstown Bourbon Company to capitalize on bourbon’s explosion in popularity and provide a high-end source of spirits for brands who might not want to go to the trouble of building their own distillery.

The company was a huge success, and provides the spirit for brands such as Jefferson’s, High West, Belle Meade, and others. As mentioned, they also have started shipping their own self-branded line of spirits and selling them under their own name, which is what we have to review today.

Loftin sadly died in 2019 and the Bardstown Bourbon Company was sold to a private equity firm Pritzker Private Capital in March 2022.


There are four lines of spirits that the Bardstown Bourbon Company produces on its own label: the Fusion series, the Discovery series, the Origin series, and the Collaboration series. We are reviewing a Fusion series bottle today, but you can read our take on the Fusion Series #5 and Collaboration Series with Goose Island which we’ve previously reviewed. 

As mentioned, Bardstown is transparent about where the product was distilled, but not necessarily who distilled it. So transparent, in fact, that every bottle (at least the ones I’ve seen) have a chart that describes not only the mashbill, but the blend ratios, and source of the distillate. For this bottle, here’s the chart they provide showing where everything came from, and actually has a surprising proportion of the spirit coming from their own stills:

ProportionOriginAgeMash Bill
58%Bardstown Bourbon Company4 Years75% Corn
21% Rye
4% Malted Barley
12%Bardstown Bourbon Company4 Years70% Corn
18% Rye
12% Malted Barley
30%Unlisted Kentucky distiller12 Years78% Corn
10% Rye
12% Malted Barley
Whiskey sources included in the Bardstown Bourbon Company Fusion #8 blend

Bardstown has been busy, quickly ramping up to speed and contributing more to their product than ever before. That was evident during our tour, as all eight of their fermentation tanks were full and active. Time is the most expensive part of any whiskey, and they continue to invest in their own product. In the case of this bottle, 70% is 4-year bourbon that has been distilled by Bardstown Bourbon Company and another 30% of a bourbon that was distilled by an unknown distillery in Kentucky that has been aged 12 years.

One of the interesting things about the blending-first approach that Bardstown takes is that they purposely do not rotate their barrels in their rickhouses. A barrel that is aged for six years spends the entire time in the same rickhouse in the same space. One of the most important elements of imbuing flavor into whiskey while its aging is temperature change — the extreme high and low temperature changes help to move the whiskey into and out of the porous wood. So, by leaving barrels alone during their aging means that barrels at the top of the rickhouse (7th story) will experience higher highs and those at the bottom will stay cooler. 

Why? Because while most bourbon distillers try to make consistent product barrel after barrel and aim to average out those temperature swings, Bardstown actually wants the diversity of flavor. It gives their blenders more options and makes things more interesting.


What we have here is a fairly modern take on a bourbon bottle. It’s got all the same parts, but there is some interesting geometry going on that makes it stand out.

Most prominent is the design of the body of the bottle, which has a square cross section with rounded sides and edges. It almost looks like a slightly melted ice cube. The sides of the bottle aren’t exactly straight, though — they flare slightly from the base to the shoulder. At the top there’s a very short stubby neck, and at the bottom there’s a nice thick glass base that should help it light up nicely on an under-lit bar shelf.

The labeling here is clean, understated, and really lets the color of the bourbon inside shine through nicely. The primary label is made from this textured paper and has a very simple, clean logo on it with the minimum information required. It’s a well-executed, modern take on a bourbon label and I really appreciate the aesthetics of it.



This deep amber bourbon pour has a melodious blend of aromas that match what you would normally expect in a high corn whiskey: strong notes of vanilla, dark chocolate, and an undertone of sour apple. The vanilla and chocolate come across as very sweet (not surprising, given the high corn content in the mashbills of all three whiskeys in the blend, all of which typically read as sweeter in whiskey).

On the first sip, the flavor of dark chocolate and sour apple jump from your nose to your palate and floods your taste buds with sweet, fruity, and slightly sour textures. After the initial flavors begin to mellow, notes of rich oak coated in nutmeg and black pepper start to appear.

The flavors all seem to blend together nicely on the finish, providing a complex-yet-mild experience to cap off the sip. The 12-year bourbon used in the blend seems to provide a mellow flavor profile that tames the spiciness that you often find in a 4-year bourbon. This results in a rich and strong, yet mild finish that does not have a strong alcohol burn.

This is a really great sipper. It’s got great flavors without being overwhelming, and nearly zero alcohol burn.

On Ice

With the addition of water and lowered temperature, ice usually provides the bourbon a chance to open and transform. With the Fusion Series #8, though, the ice opens the door to Willy Wonka’s factory — the sweetness is turned way up. 

All three blended bourbons have a high corn content, so it’s not surprising that the result is a sweet sip. You still get some of the notes of sour apple and chocolate, but they’re fleeting before they run and hide behind a sugarcane plant. 

On the positive side, the spices seem to open up more — specifically, the nutmeg and black pepper are joined with a strong cinnamon flavor. This all seems to come together well with the oaky flavors, and there remains zero burn on the finish.

All in, adding ice is a net negative in my mind. I appreciate the stronger baking spice flavors, but it comes across way too sweet. I am slightly concerned as we move to our cocktails.

Cocktail (Old Fashioned)

Full transparency, I did not use the normal amount of sugar in this old fashioned; rather, I used about half a bar spoon full. I mudded that with some water and some dashes of angostura bitters to cap off the concoction. …And even after dropping the sugar content significantly, the result was still a very sweet old fashioned.

Boy, am I happy that I cut the sugar back. I do not know if the standard recipe would have been a drinkable cocktail. As it is, the sweetness eclipses almost any other flavor in the drink. You get nearly zero flavor of the bitters, orange, and only small notes from the baking spices found in the bourbon. 

For such a great bourbon taken neat, this is a very disappointing cocktail.

Fizz (Mule)

If you’ve read my previous articles, I don’t hide the fact that I don’t love a Kentucky mule. They are often too sweet for me, so I was not looking forward to this.

Surprisingly, though… I didn’t hate it. It’s a decent mule! I’ve been using Fever Tree sugar free ginger beer, and this mixer is heavier on the effervescent ginger rather than syrupiness, so perhaps that’s owed some of the credit here. But either way, the bourbon flavors seem to blend well with the ginger beer, with the oak, black pepper, and baking spice flavors taking more of the spotlight of the cocktail. It’s more lost behind the ginger beer than I would like, but it seems to all come together well.


Overall Rating

This is one of those bourbons that tastes great neat but is a bit of a one trick pony. The initial flavors are fantastic, and if you only intend to sip this on its own I’d say it’s a fine choice. But the moment you start trying to use it in any cocktails, or even just add a few cubes of ice, it seems to fall apart. It never actually gets “bad” — just sweet and a bit boring.

I really like the way Bardstown is approaching their products. They are incredibly transparent about their product, how it’s blended, and what is distilled by them or by others. Also, they have one of the most gorgeous distilleries that I’ve ever been to.

I expect that as they mature more of their own product, and thus have a higher level of control of the flavors that have spent more time in the barrel, that Bardstown Bourbon Company will evolve and become more well-rounded. For now, we will have to enjoy a bourbon that does only one thing really well… but for $65, I expect a more versatile bourbon.

Bardstown Bourbon Company Fusion Series #8 Kentucky Straight Bourbon Whiskey
Production Location: Kentucky, United States
Classification: Straight Bourbon Whiskey
Aging: No Age Statement (NAS)
Proof: 47.45% ABV
Price: $64.99 / 750 ml
Overall Rating:
All reviews are evaluated within the context of their specific spirit classification as specified above. Click here to check out similar spirits we have reviewed.

Overall Rating: 3/5
It’s a great neat sipper but doesn’t offer a lot of versatility.


One comment

  1. While the Fusion series was used by Bardstown to start introducing their distilled product through blends with sourced whiskey, their Origin series is 100% their own distillate. The Fusion #9 is the current and last release of this series.

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