People at the Bardstown Bourbon Company wear many hats, or at least their brand is a brand that wears many hats. Back in 2014 when they broke ground on their new distillery they did it with one goal in mind, to make great bourbon whiskey in Bardstown, Kentucky. Not only did building in Kentucky give them the opportunity to use the term Kentucky Bourbon on their future labels but, it also put them in the heart of bourbon country in the Bourbon Capital of the World where the limestone water that runs underground feeds some of the most famous distilleries in the world.
They started their first distillation run in September 2016 and their original plan called for opening the distillery up for visitors and events in early 2017. Well, like the path the water takes as it meanders through the underground limestone, the plans changed. With the success of their Collaborative Distilling Program where they basically sell time on their stills to make whiskey for other brands their tourism plans were put on hold so they could focus on expanding their distillation operations. They started out with a distillation capacity of 1.5 million proof gallons with the ability to expand up to 6 million proof gallons. Not too long before they started distilling they put the wheels in motion to expand to 3 million proof gallons. Then before you knew it, they were expanding again to the full 6 million proof gallons.
New Restaurant, Bar and Visitor Experience Now Open
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Once they had their distillation capacity ramped up, it was time to shift gears to focus on their visitor experience. All the while when they were planning, the laws kept changing and in the case, they just kept getting better and better, a rarity. Here’s a brief summary of how the laws have changed since the distillery first broke ground in 2014.
- Sample Size Increase – Distilleries can now provide up to 1.75 ounces of free samples of distilled spirits per visitor per day. This went up from 1 ounce. SB11
- Cocktails or Mixed Drinks – Distilleries are now allowed to sell cocktails or mixed drinks at the distillery. This was never an option before. SB11
- Souvenir Package Sales Increase – Distilleries and can sell up to 4.5 liters or six 750 ml bottles per day at the distillery. This went up from 3 liters. SB11
- Sale of Spirits at Fairs and Festivals – Allows distillers to sell their spirits at fairs and festivals in wet counties. HB100
- Sale of Vintage Distilled Spirits – Allows licensed retailers to purchase vintage unopened spirits from private individuals and resell them by the drink or by the package. HB100
- Direct to Consumer Shipment – This is the newest law that allows distilleries to ship spirits directly to consumers. It’s currently only available in eight states and D.C. HB400.
Winner, winner, chicken dinner. The changes to Kentucky’s laws have allowed this distillery to expand its thinking well beyond their original plans.
Introducing the Bottle & Bond Kitchen and Bar Experience
To bring its vision to life, the Company assembled a highly experienced food and beverage team, led by John Donnelly (“JD”), Executive Director of Food & Beverage. Most recently, JD was the Director of New Restaurant Openings for the Matchbox Food Group, where he was responsible for opening 15 restaurants, developing a culture of hospitality, and ensuring the highest quality experience for guests.
The Bar – Introducing the “Fred Minnick Signature Series”
Wall Street Journal best-selling spirits author Fred Minnick is putting his fingerprint on the distilled spirits industry in a new way with the debut of the “Fred Minnick Signature Series.” The Series will be featured at restaurants and bars around the country and includes Minnick’s curated selections of rare and vintage spirits. In this case, the bar will feature more than 200 vintage American whiskeys curated by Minnick, including an 1890s Cedar Brook whiskey and a pair of early 1900s Overholt Rye. The collection tells the story of American whiskey, through each bottle, from the late 1800s and pre-prohibition through the 1950s, 60s, 70s, and 80s. Be prepared to spend some time with this menu.
Here’s a small sampling of some of the vintage pours you can expect behind the bar.
- Cedar Brook, Bottled 1892 – Cedar Brook was a popular Anderson County brand made at the McBrayer Distillery. This brand won the Philadelphia Centennial Exposition of 1876. This particular bottle is believed to have been a contract produced product for a grocer named James Levy & Bro. in Cincinnati. $75 a pour.
- Fortuna Glencoe, 17 Year Old – Distilled 1916 and bottled 1933 at 100 proof. Distilled by Glencoe Distillery Co in Louisville, KY. With his brother Louis, in 1878, German immigrant Philip Hollenbach started the company Hollenbach Bros., a wholesale liquor company in downtown Louisville. In less than a decade, the brothers expanded into the distilling business, taking over the Glencoe Distillery, with Fortuna becoming their flagship product. They worked with the famous Stitzel family to create bourbon, but their facilities were dismantled during Prohibition and this bottle of Fortuna would be one of the last remaining bottles. $225 a pour.
- Old Oscar Pepper, Old Fashioned Hand Made Sour Mash – Bottled In Bond “For Medicinal Purposes Only.” This bottle was distilled in 1916 and bottled in 1926. A 10 year old 100 proof Distilled at Labrot & Graham, Kentucky, Bottled by The Frankfort Distillery. This distillery is now known as the Woodford Reserve Distillery. $300 a pour.
- Four Roses Rye, “100% Straight Whiskies” 1930s – 90 Proof, 51% Straight Rye Whiskey and 49% Other Straight Whiskies from Frankfort Distilleries, Baltimore, MD. $100 a pour.
As these are in fact vintage pours, the selection changes all the time.
The restaurant showcases gourmet fare from Executive Chef Felix Mosso, formerly with the historic Greenbrier Resort, West Virginia. Bottle & Bond’s scratch kitchen combines seasonal, local ingredients with regional flair. Comfort food, exceptional salads, and farm fresh meats and cheeses along with a craft cocktail program, curated wine collection, and a selection of local draft beers, provides the perfect foundation for a memorable afternoon or evening.
“We practice refined simplicity,” said Donnelly. “Our dishes are simple, yet exceptional and made with the finest ingredients sourced from the highest quality vendors. At the end of the day, our number one job is to ensure that each and every guest returns to Bottle & Bond.”
Bottle & Bond’s Executive Chef Felix Mosso has a celebrated culinary career spanning more than three decades. Chef Mozzo is a graduate of the Culinary Institute of America and served as a Professor and Course Coordinator in its Culinary Arts and the Food & Beverage Program. Bardstown Bourbon recruited Dan Callaway as its Director of Beverage Operations and Bourbon Education. Dan was recently the General Manager at Decca Restaurant in Louisville, Kentucky, and is a certified Sommelier by the Court of Master Sommeliers.
Bottle & Bond’s team of expert mixologists are all Certified Executive Bourbon Stewards by the Stave & Thief Society. They will not only create exceptional drinks, but they will also focus on educating the consumer about bourbon. Bardstown Bourbon encourages guests to enjoy an extensive range of whiskey, bourbon, and rye brands from across the globe, in addition to its own products.
Creating an Experience
“Bottle & Bond Kitchen and Bar is an experience,” said David Mandell, President & CEO of the Bardstown Bourbon Company. “We’ve created an inviting, fun, and approachable environment where people can enjoy an exceptional meal, great cocktails, and try a wide variety of brands from our unique whiskey collection. Just like our signature Collaborative Distilling Program, Bottle & Bond is designed to bring people together.”
Furthering its philosophy of collaboration and education, the company participates in U.S. State Department’s J-1 Visitor Exchange Program and brings hospitality and culinary students from around the world to work at Bottle & Bond. As part of the program, they house the students, provide transportation, and ensure a year-long curriculum designed to teach them about local culinary arts, bourbon culture, and Kentucky.
“We are proud to bring the spirit of international collaboration into our kitchen and bar,” said Garnett Black, Vice President of Hospitality, Tourism & Community Outreach. “We have 17 students from three nations working side-by-side with our highly-talented food and beverage team. When it comes time for them to return to their native countries, they will be ambassadors for bourbon, Bardstown, and the state of Kentucky.”
Bardstown Bourbon Company’s Bottle & Bond is open for lunch every day of the week and for dinner on Thursday, Friday, and Saturday. Hours of operation are Sunday-Wednesday (11am-5pm) and Thursday-Saturday (11am-close; last dinner seating 10pm).
The bar and restaurant are open for guests but distillery tours have not yet started. There is also a plan for a boutique hotel located somewhere on the 100 acre farm.