CALUMET FARM SMALL BATCH

I featured this bourbon a while back in my Best Horse Racing Bourbons feature. But for many, this may be a brand you’ve seen, but not yet purchased. Let’s take an in-depth dive of this bourbon and its history.

Old Brands – New Home 

Calumet Farm is one of the many brands owned by the Western Spirits Beverage Company. Other brands include the popular Bird Dog Whiskey and Lexington Bourbon, in addition to the three varieties of Calumet Farm – small batch, single rack black 10-year, and single rack black 12-year. For many years, Calumet Farm and the other products of the Western Spirits Beverage Company, have been sourced products, meaning Western Spirits bottled the final product, but purchased it from another distiller.

That all changed in early 2017. Located in Bardstown, Kentucky, the Bardstown Bourbon Company began operations and production of the Western Spirits Brands as well as their own brands. In April 2019, Bardstown Bourbon released their first Kentucky Straight Bourbon Whiskey, a blend of 11 year-old bourbon and 2-year bourbon. Leading distilling operations is Master Distiller Steve Nally, a 40-year veteran of the bourbon industry, and former Master Distiller at Maker’s Mark. John Hargrove, a former Master Distiller at Sazerac and Barton 1792, heads up manufacturing operations.  

Bardstown Bourbon produces bourbon based on nearly 40 different mash bills. Visitors can experience a brand-new, state-of-the-art distilling and aging facility and visitors center. 

Homage to a Great Racing Tradition 

Calumet Farm Bourbon carries its name from the historic Calumet Farm, located on the west side of Lexington, Kentucky and just a couple of furlongs from Keeneland Race Track. In 1924, owner of Calumet Baking Powder Company, William Monroe Wright, established Calumet Farm. While William initially bred and raced Standardbred horses, it was his son, Warren, who fell in love with Thoroughbred racing. Under Warren’s leadership, Calumet Farm would produce 8 Kentucky Derby winners and 2 Triple Crown winners (Whirlaway in 1941 and Citation in 1948).

Calumet Farm fell on hard times in the 1980’s and by 1992 the farm fell into bankruptcy and the land was put on the auction block. Businessman Henryk de Kwiatkowski had grown fond of Calumet Farm from his frequent visits to Kentucky, and he purchased the farm. He subsequently returned the farm to its former beauty and picturesque white fences and trademark wind vane-topped cupolas.

 Let’s see if this bourbon lives up to the heritage of the Calumet Farm name.

The Tasting 

As mentioned earlier, this is bottled at 86 proof, without an indication as to the bourbon’s source or mash bill.

Eye: Light copper and straw-like. This looks young.

Nose: A lot of sweetness – like a caramel syrup – with some lighter notes of vanilla.

Palate: More sweetness, with vanilla and charred wood notes. 

Finish: Medium. A lot of wood, spice, with dryness and a little alcohol burn on the back side.  

Overall: This isn’t a bad bourbon – I’m just not sure it lives up to the rich heritage of the Calumet Farm name. It’s fine – at a much lower price point. This seems like more of a $25 or $30 bourbon and not the $40-$50 I paid for this. It will be interesting to follow this brand as Bardstown Bourbon starts distilling more of their own juice. I’ll be looking for the changes to the label and will be on the lookout to give this another shot.

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