Back in May, Kentucky’s Bardstown Bourbon Company joined up with Armagnac house Château de Laubade to produce a new bourbon under its Collaborative Series. That bourbon—simply named Château de Laubade Finish—was created by putting a 12-year-old Indiana bourbon made from a mash bill of 75% corn, 21% rye, and 4% malted barley into an Armagnac barrel for another 18 months of sweet slumber. Eventually, it was bottled at a punchy 118.4 proof.
The whiskey has a rich, syrupy nose that includes raisins, grape must, figs, vanilla biscotti, butterscotch, and caramel. It’s those butterscotch and caramel flavors that inaugurate the experience on the palate, alongside a viscous, honey-like mouthfeel. At the center, it darkens to apricot, fig jam, and plum. The back of the palate sees it grow tannic and spicy with a dry, grippy mouthfeel. The back is also where I detected notes of bitter espresso, dark cacao nibs, and cinnamon that came together to give it the feeling of a spiced Mexican hot chocolate. This richly bitter conclusion is followed by a surge of oak spice and a long, dry finish that leaves a tantalizing trail of spice in its wake.
If I had to sum up Bardstown Bourbon Château de Laubade Finish in three words, I’d give it “dark, rich, dry.” It leads you in with the familiar bourbon notes of butterscotch and vanilla, and gets more interesting at the center with stone fruits and tannins. And while those earlier parts of the experience are certainly enjoyable, where the spirit truly shines is the combination of chocolate, spice and espresso at the back that makes it feel like a dessert, a digestif, and a caffeinated post-dinner pick-me-up all at once.
— 59.2% ABV