My daughter called me from one of my favorite Kentucky big-box liquor stores and began rattling off names of bourbon I’d yet to sample. In a tall, heavy bottle with an antiqued label, Boone County Small Batch Bourbon sounded like a great one to try. While the early founders of distilleries in this area of Kentucky are long gone, this brand honors the ghosts of those who laid the foundation. The simple “8” linking the words Boone and County represent the original DSP #8 of a local distillery.
Made by Ghosts
Produced by Boone County Distilling Company, Boone County Small Batch Bourbon has its roots solidly in the history of Kentucky. In 1833, William and John Snyder purchased the Steam Mill 25 miles west of Cincinnati and transformed it into the Petersburg Distillery. By 1860, the facility was producing 1 million gallons of whisky annually. By 1880, Petersburg Distillery became the largest distillery in the State of Kentucky. At its height of production in 1897, 4 million gallons were distilled and carefully placed into rick houses. Just 13 years later, production had ceased, with the remaining stock liquidated by 1918.
In 2015, Boone County Distilling Company began operations at its new Northern Kentucky home, joining the Kentucky Bourbon Trail Craft Tour. BC is in good company, and joins the likes of nearby New Riff Distilling in Newport and the Old Pogue Distillery in Maysville.
Boone County Small Batch Bourbon is produced by Boone County Distilling in Independence, Kentucky. While this bottle contains spirits likely distilled elsewhere (likely MGP in nearby Lawrenceburg, Indiana), Boone County will be releasing their own distillate later in 2020.
The heavy Pre-Prohibition style bottle with an antiqued label and a rustic faux tax stamp make for an attractive package. It is bottled at 90.8 proof from a mash bill of 75% corn, 21% rye and 4% malted barley. The term small batch on a bourbon label is a vague one, inferring the mingling of multiple barrels, ranging to even hundreds or thousands of indeterminate ages. Boone County shares that this small batch is from barrels between 5 and 14 years-old for this release.
Tasting notes provided by the distillery include a nose with “light notes of aged oak, vanilla, almond, and sugar cookie,” and “sweet oak, caramel, vanilla, and almond biscuit” on the palate. On the finish we’re told to expect “a dash of aged rye and a pinch of cinnamon.” Here’s what I sense from this history laden bourbon.
Eye: Thick amber legs coat the inside of the Glencairn glass.
Nose: Caramelized sugar with notes of stone fruit.
Palate: A light mouthfeel filled with caramel and sweet oak dominate. A small amount of spice follows late.
Finish: Medium-long with spice and oak.
Overall: Boone County is a solid bourbon. I’ve enjoyed it neat and on the rocks. I’d have loved to have sampled their 1833 version – sporting a 12-year age statement. I’ll be on the lookout for that as well as their own product and see how it compares as it comes to age in 2020. Boone County has a relatively small footprint. To date, you’ll find it in Florida, Georgia, Kentucky, Louisiana, New Jersey, New York, Ohio, Texas, and Washington.