Interview: What’s Driving Growth at Bardstown Bourbon Co.

Considering the size and location of Bardstown Bourbon Co., whiskey newcomers may think this distillery has operated in the heart of bourbon land for decades. Incredibly, this cutting-edge, 100-acre facility has been open only since 2017. Situated minutes from some of the largest and most-celebrated distilleries in American, BBCo has quickly made a name for itself, even amongst those historic bourbon giants.

How has the company emerged so rapidly? And what’s next for this innovative producer? BBCo’s specialties include the Discovery and Fusion series, collaborative projects that span the alcohol universe, plus a custom distilling program that has changed how brands source their whiskey. The facility produces 7 million proof gallons per year, filling 110,000 barrels annually. Capacity-wise, it’s already one of the 10 largest distilleries in the country.

For a deeper dive into BBCo, we recently chatted with Dan Callaway, BBCo VP of hospitality and product development.

Beverage Dynamics: What’s new over at Bardstown Bourbon Co.?

Dan Callaway: Product development. I think ’22 is really going to be a special year for us with some really awesome things coming out.

We just recently released our Discovery Series #7, which is hitting shelves soon. It’s the first time we used Canadian whisky in one of our blends. That 21% Canadian whisky in the blend really works on the smooth, sweet finish.

We’re continuing our collaborative series, with an international approach. We have a Sauterne finish coming out with a bourbon and a rye, plus Plantation Rum, Glenmorangie, Amaro Nonino and Casa Noble finishes. We’re really hitting all these different spirits regions all over the world, and they’ve been really cool to work with.

Dan Callaway, BBCo VP of hospitality and product development.

We also have a collaboration going with the West Virginia Great Barrel Company. They’re a brand-new cooperage. They experiment with newer kinds of barrels. This includes a 100% infrared-charred barrel. This produces soften tannins than a traditional char. We’re using infrared barrels for a cherrywood/American oak hybrid barrel we’re doing with the West Virginia Great Barrel Company. That’s going to be for a high-rye whiskey with a smoother profile.

We also recently opened a 55,000-square-foot bottling facility. We truly can go from grain to glass now.

BD: Innovations like that have always seemed to be at the core of BBCo.

DC: We like to think of it as a juxtaposition. We built our distillery in the bourbon capital, and we want to celebrate that but with new takes. We’re just a small team here, meaning we can have discussions about innovations and immediately run with these new ideas. I don’t see that attitude slowing down. If anything, I think we’re ramping up with all the new flavors we’re seeing if we can create.

BD: How has BBCo also emerged so quickly in the sourcing industry?

DC: We’re open and we’re transparent. We like to think of ourselves as a community for whiskey. When you walk into our visitor center, you’ll see that we have the brands we work with out and open on display.

What we’ve created is the opposite of contract distilling. It’s true customization. We have 54 grain recipes across 30 different companies that are currently working with us, including big-name brands like High West and Kentucky Owl. There are 500 points of distillation that these companies can adjust during production.

BD: Whenever I visit BBCo, I’m impressed by the bar and restaurant experience right when you enter.

DC: We have a fantastic bar and restaurant that we put right at the center of our tourist experience. We want to paint the complete picture for visitors so that they can really dive into the brand. After you tour the distillery, come have a cocktail with one of our whiskeys, and have a great meal.

Our distillery tour is the same way, diving deep into what we are. We’re developing a real brand. We don’t have some fictitious colonel. All we have here is our team.

We believe we’re still at the beginning of all that we’re going to accomplish.

This interview was edited and condensed for publication.

Kyle Swartz is editor of Beverage Dynamics. Reach him at kswartz@epgmediallc.com or on Twitter @kswartzz. Read his recent piece, 11 American Whiskey Trends in 2022.

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