Comparison: Two Nouveau BiB Wheaters – Bardstown / Field & Sound

Bottled in Bond Wheated Bourbon (2022) 

MASH BILL – 68% corn, 20% wheat, 12% malted barley 

PROOF – 100 

AGE – 6 years 

DISTILLERY – Bardstown Bourbon Co. 

PRICE – $54

Bottled in Bond Wheated Bourbon Batch 1 (2023) 

MASH BILL – 60% corn, 33% wheat, 7% Malted Barley 

PROOF – 100 

AGE – 4 years 

DISTILLERY – Long Island Distilling 

PRICE – $49

When I interviewed Westward Whiskey’s founder, Christian Krogstad, he wrestled with my questions about “craft” whiskey. As I pressed him, he eventually said:

I’m probably not a good person to talk about craft versus… I mean, what’s the alternative to craft, really?

Maybe craft has to do with intentional decision making. And maybe it’s producer driven rather than finance driven. Inevitably, with a business that’s been around a long time, shareholders want to squeeze more and more return on investment out of it, and so decisions start to be made by the finance department rather than the production department. Is that craft? I don’t know.

There are big brands that pay attention to every step and really do an amazing job day in and day out. You hurt their feelings when you say they’re not craft, when they’re putting their hearts into it. There are plenty of small producers that make garbage, and small companies that just repackage other people’s products. Are they craft? I guess if you’re really mindful about your sourcing. Like Pappy Van Winkle. They don’t make it, right? But they craft it, because of the barrels they’ve selected. So what is craft? That’s a deep philosophical question I don’t feel qualified to answer.

As the distilleries that opened back in the 2005 to 2015 period now come of age, the meaning of “craft” seems to be shifting right alongside their growth. “Craft,” or “crafty,” as a flavor note has tended to mean variations on raw, grainy, rough, sharp, herbaceous in a mulchy or otherwise agricultural way—notes associated with young whiskeys. Today in 2023, I now taste those notes only very infrequently in whiskeys from the smaller and relatively recently established—one might argue “craft”—distilleries.

Home Base Bourbon once tasted “crafty” to me, for example, back in 2016 when I tried their Batch 1, aged 15 months. But once their batch numbers crossed into two digits, and the age could be measured in years rather than months, those early “crafty” qualities rapidly evolved into complex aromas and flavors. So is Home Base still a “craft” distillery? If flavor is the determining factor, I could argue no. If scale of operation is the determining factor, I’d say yes for sure. Either way, perhaps “craft” as a descriptor has now spent its use with regard to Home Base.

Heading toward two decades into the American craft distillery movement, a new range of flavor profiles have come into their own, mature in ways distinct from the more familiar Kentucky, Indiana, and Tennessee profiles. I can often relate Northern California whiskeys, like Home Base and Redwood Empire, to New York whiskeys, like Breuckelen and McKenzie. Very different terroirs, on opposite sides of the continent, yet sharing a certain organic farm freshness to their flavor range. What links them? Is it process? Scale? Reliance on smaller, mostly non-GMO farms for their grains? Do these factors make them “craft,” or simply mark their generation?

All of this makes me quite intrigued to now try the present New York and Kentucky pairing, both from debatably “craft” operations.

Bardstown Bourbon Company was founded in 2014, and worked fast—clearly with a great amount of capital on hand—to develop a sizable operation, openly styled after high-end Napa Valley Winery experiences. Their visitor facilities are top notch, with a modern bar and upscale restaurant. They’ve covered the main trifecta of distilling activities: (1) source from others to blend under their own labels; (2) contract distill new-make for other bottlers; (3) distill, age, and bottle their own whiskeys. The fruits of the latter endeavor have only come out recently, with three inaugural Origin Series bottlings—a rye, a high-rye bourbon, and the bottled in bond wheated bourbon that figures into this post.

Long Island Distilling was founded in 2007. Located in the rustic North Fork region of Long Island, New York, it is surrounded by over sixty wineries and dozens of pre-revolutionary family-owned potato, corn, and rye farms. Their state of the art distillery is housed in a refurbished, century-old barn. Long Island Spirits uses sustainable distillery practices, buys ingredients from neighboring farms, and bottles all their spirits without chill filtration. Despite their notably wide range of vodkas, gins, liqueurs, and whiskeys, over the years their ambitions have remained much more local than Bardstown’s. Their Rough Rider and Pine Barrens whiskey brands can occasionally be found in California, where I live. But sightings have always been rare. The newer Field & Sound whiskey line first arrived in 2021 with a bottled in bond high-rye bourbon, and two years later has been followed by this bottled in bond wheater.

Are either of these distilleries “craft,” whether by taste or scale? Is the question relevant? Only if it helps me to situate these whiskeys within the larger scope of American whiskey.

So let’s find out! Here we are, just over six weeks after uncorking the Bardstown and three pours in, and four weeks after uncorking the Field & Sound and four pours in. These notes were taken using traditional Glencairns.


BOTH – pale dirty ambers, with the Field & Sound tinting just a hint darker at some angles


BARDS – relaxed, dark crusty wheat bread, a rugged herbaceous bouquet I’d guess to be rye if I didn’t know better, cherry and apricot compote, vanilla caramel, maple, very faint bubblegum

F&S – vibrant, lighter fresh wheat bread, honey butter, bubblegum, floral and fruity like some kind of artisanal old fashioned gummy or other chewy candies


BARDS – lighter than the nose lets on, the fruit notes leaning forward to swap prominence with the crusty bread

F&S – very like the nose only a touch less bright, with the bready notes leaning forward a bit


BARDS – flavors dissipate fairly quickly, leaving a gentle warmth, some faint oak tannin and rustic spices, and the wheaty bread crusts

F&S – flavors linger medium-short, leaving a mildly numbing warmth, the fruity bubblegum notes, faint oak tannin, and wheat bread crusts like from sliced sandwich bread


BARDS – relaxed, layered, a bit boring

F&S – vibrant, textured, pleasant



F&S – Sure

As you can probably tell, my enthusiasm for either of these isn’t too high. Both taste of quality—real, not churned mindlessly through mass-producing machinery. The Bardstown comes across like a very well studied person too relaxed to make an effort, whereas the Field & Sound makes an immediate effort, but lacks gravitas.

Their color and genre of grains might be the same, but on the nose they are quite distinct. Here I favor the Field & Sound. Its vibrancy is most interesting on its nose. Then when the aromas turn to flavor on the taste, there is something somehow less compelling about their effect. The Bardstown’s nose rewards patience—after time more notes emerge and together they weave a thick blanket of aroma. Then on the taste, the flavors don’t get better or worse, they just shift about a bit.

Neither whiskey has a spectacular finish. All said and done, if I had to choose between them I’d likely go for the Field & Sound. Though gangly compared to the older Bardstown, its vibrancy has more to offer in the end. My senses remember it with greater distinction, whereas the Bardstown seems content to fade away…

Interesting. The younger whiskey from the older, smaller distillery wins out over the older whiskey from the younger, bigger distillery. “Wins out” is a bit misleading, of course. This isn’t a contest. And ultimately I don’t imagine I’ll be reaching for either of these too often. If their sweeter fruit notes were more prominent, maybe. But they’re not.

And as for craft? In terms of my own flavor profile expectations, I’d say the Field & Sound leans more “craft” than the Bardstown. Both have a breadiness that I have often associated with craft distilleries. But the Field & Sound also has particularly pronounced herbal and bubblegum notes I likewise recognize as “craft.”

Still, what does that mean? At this point I think it simply means these do not taste like the more common, mainstream wheated bourbons one might think of—e.g. Weller, Larceny, or Rebel.

Both these whiskeys are good. They’re just not exciting. They are curious examples of how high quality products, made with integrity, don’t guarantee satisfaction.


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