Cinder & Smoke Founder’s Select GOLD - John Barleycorn Awards

Cinder & Smoke Founder’s Select is a passion project for our founders, Thomas & Kim Bard. Following in the footsteps of our award-winning 13 Year Old expression of Cinder & Smoke, The Bards wanted to continue to develop that famous taste profile, without being limited to a specific AGE of bourbon.

“With the global demand for bourbon outpacing supply, well-aged barrels are getting harder to come by,” says Thomas Bard. ” That doesn’t mean that we can’t develop amazing bourbons, we just have to work a little harder to find barrels that match up the best to create the profile we’re looking for.”

With Cinder & Smoke 13 Year (currently sold out), we were able to match two or three barrels for each small batch, all of which happened to be 13 years old at the time. Now, we’re combing through a much larger inventory of aged bourbon, currently ranging from 4 years to 16 years.

Thomas and Kim taste each one and develop a profile for that barrel. Next, they assign a random code to that sample, so that they don’t know what barrel sample they are working with until they’ve been matched up and it’s time to go dump the barrels for bottling. It truly is a blind process to create each batch.

“We don’t want to be biased towards the age of a bourbon when creating these batches,” says Thomas.” Some batches, in the end, will be a combination of 4,7, and 8 year old barrels, or 4,4, and 12 years, and so on. It’s all about the character of the batch, not the time it happened to spend in wood. That’s why we don’t have an age statement on our Founder’s Select. We don’t want consumers to automatically assume a batch consisting of three 12-year-old bourbons is “better” than a batch with 4, 7, and 8-year-old bourbons. We want the character of each release to speak for itself.”

“What we have discovered is that you can’t rely solely on the age of a bourbon to tell you if it’s any good,” says Kim Bard. “Although longer-aged bourbons have the best potential to develop incredible flavors, we’ve found some old ones that didn’t age well at all. Most interesting, though, is that we often find relatively younger barrels (4 years and older) that have AMAZING profiles and maturity well beyond their years! There are so many factors that go into each barrel (the initial spirit, where it aged, the char, and especially the different trees that make up the staves of the barrel), you truly don’t know what you have in there until you taste it. Sometimes, we are pleasantly surprised! And that’s what ends up becoming Cinder & Smoke Founder’s Select.”

After developing each profile and tasting notes, they then spend time matching each barrel with two other barrels to create a true small batch that, while unique to itself, still has the aromatic nose, flavorful profile, and smokey finish that Cinder & Smoke is known for. Thomas and Kim then blend and proof (they normally spend around a month or more with each batch, letting the bourbons from the three barrels Really get to know each other!). When the spirit is ready, they fill, label, and sign each bottle themselves, By Hand. Truly Small Batch. Truly Craft.

“Orange rind and vanilla aromas lead to a cinnamon laden sip with a wonderful mouthfeel and length to spare on the long, pleasant finish.”

John Barleycorn Awards – Tasting Notes