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Collabor&tion Bourbon Review

In Bourbon Whiskey Reviews by Matt SelfLeave a Comment


“Exceptional bourbon will always carry beautiful dark fruit notes (figs, raisins, dates) as well as apple and pear to complement the classic honey, spice and butterscotch. Aging in brandy barrels not only accentuates these notes – it layers more on top of that foundation to create an incredibly rich, smooth and complex whiskey.”Steve Nally, Bardstown Bourbon Company Master Distiller
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Collabor&tion American Brandy Barrel Finished Bourbon


  • DISTILLER: Lawrenceburg Distillers (now MGP) Bourbon Finished in Copper & King American Brandy Barrels for 18 Months
  • MASH BILL: 75% Corn | 21% Rye | 4% Malted Barley
  • AGE: 10 Years
  • YEAR: 2017
  • PROOF: 113 (56.5% ABV)
  • MSRP: $124.99
NOSE: Ripe Red Fruit | Acetone

TASTE: The palate is predominately rotten red fruit and baking spices.  The brandy finishing totally overpowers the traditional bourbon flavors that I expected in this whiskey.  I would have expected a 2-4 year whiskey was used in this product after the first few attempts at this tasting.

FINISH: The finish on this whiskey is the best part.  The brandy and bourbon balanced out nicely and was particularly enjoyable.

SHARE WITH: The rich bourbon collector who has tried everything and has more money than sense.

WORTH THE PRICE: Absolutely not.  The best quote from the gallery: “That’s what happens when you collaborate.  You pay twice as much.”

BOTTLE, BAR OR BUST: This is a bust.  I’m disappointed in this offering altogether.  The flavors are unbalanced, the palate is unenjoyable and the finish cannot rescue your $124.99 plus tax.  I can’t imagine this will land on many bar shelves but if you’re skeptical of my review please (I beg you) try before you buy.

OVERALL: This is not as egregious a marketing scam as Diageo’s Whoop & Holler but it’s in the same over-priced and under-performing class.  I asked Steve Nally, the Master Distiller at Bardstown Bourbon Company, if they considered and/or tasted a lower proof point for this whiskey and his response was that “no, cask strength is really popular so we just bottled it at cask strength.”  The bottle and packaging is immaculate and the hang tag has a great Henry Ford quote printed on it.  It’s just all sizzle and no steak.

Learn more about Matt’s whiskey preferences and check out more of his reviews…

“Exceptional bourbon will always carry beautiful dark fruit notes (figs, raisins, dates) as well as apple and pear to complement the classic honey, spice and butterscotch. Aging in brandy barrels not only accentuates these notes – it layers more on top of that foundation to create an incredibly rich, smooth and complex whiskey,” says Bardstown Bourbon Company Master Distiller Steve Nally. “I’ve been doing this a long time, and this is an amazing spirit – something I will share with my good friends with real pride.”

“The whiskey exiting these barrels is pure joy. A completely novel sensory experience; deep, deep rich whiskey – very soft and supple, mellow, and the taste goes on forever. The whiskey notes are amplified by a softness and smoothness that is singular – to say the least. I could literally sip this for the rest of my life.”Brandon O’Daniel, Head Distiller of Copper & Kings
Click to explore our complete library of reviews to help you choose your next perfect bottle.

Collabor&tion Muscat Mistelle Barrel Finished Bourbon


  • DISTILLER: Lawrenceburg Distillers (now MGP) Bourbon Finished in Muscat Mistelle Barrels for 18 Months
  • MASH BILL: 75% Corn | 21% Rye | 4% Malted Barley
  • AGE: 10 Years
  • YEAR: 2017
  • PROOF: 94 (47% ABV)
  • MSRP: $124.99
NOSE: New Red Fruit | Sweet Spiced Tea

TASTE: The sweet wine influence after only 18 months of finishing is surprisingly strong.  The new red fruit and sugared wine again overpowers the well-aged bourbon and masks any traditional bourbon flavors.  The palate is strangely enjoyable.  It’s almost like a barreled cocktail.

FINISH: The finish on this whiskey is bitter and lingering.  I’m not a white wine drinker and this is why.  With the sugar on the nose and the palate, the bitter finish was a surprise

SHARE WITH: The whiskey and cocktail snob that collects vermouth.  You know that guy that has 4-5 types in his refrigerator; he’ll be impressed with this.

WORTH THE PRICE: This offering was better than its brandy finished sister Collabor&tion product but still not worth the MSRP at $124.99.

BOTTLE, BAR OR BUST: This is a bar pour for me.  I don’t like the flavor profile enough to invest in a bottle but it is unique and has some admirable qualities that would create a nice change of pace.  Similar wine-finished whiskey products are substantially less expensive at the bottle price and unlike the port finished 1792 bourbon, I cannot see myself going back to this bottle time and time again.

OVERALL: : This is a finished whiskey product that will please fans of High West’s Yippee Ki Yay and not many others.  The proof point is just right but I have a hard time believing this is cask strength and non-chill filtered at 94 proof.  If you’re going to invest in a bottle of this Collabor&tion duo, this is the one to buy.

Learn more about Matt’s whiskey preferences and check out more of his reviews…

“A Mistelle barrel is a unique vessel. Mistelle is unfermented grape juice (in this case Muscat) fortified with un-aged brandy (Muscat eau-de-vie) and then aged in bourbon barrels for 18 months. The empty barrels are deeply and highly caramelized with the grape sugars and fruit essences. The whiskey exiting these barrels is pure joy. A completely novel sensory experience; deep, deep rich whiskey – very soft and supple, mellow, and the taste goes on forever. The whiskey notes are amplified by a softness and smoothness that is singular – to say the least. I could literally sip this for the rest of my life,” said Brandon O’Daniel, Head Distiller of Copper & Kings.


“COLLABOR&TION” BOURBON Background Info

Here’s some additional information on this release from the official press release:

Created with 10-year-old straight bourbon whiskey, finished for 18 months in American Brandy and Muscat Mistelle barrels, celebrates the spirit of partnership

Bardstown, KY (September 13, 2017) – The Bardstown Bourbon Company (“BBCo”) and Copper & Kings American Brandy Company (“C&K”) announced today the release of “Collabor&tion,” two distinct products made with 10-year-old straight bourbon whiskey – one finished in Copper & Kings’ American Brandy barrels and the other in Muscat Mistelle barrels, for more than 18 months in the Copper & Kings basement maturation cellar. The project is intended to embody the spirit of friendship and partnership, and celebrates great craftsmen working together to produce exceptional products as kindred spirits.

“Collabor&tion is the first of many original releases from the Bardstown Bourbon Company,” said David Mandell, President & CEO, the Bardstown Bourbon Company. “We’ve built our company by working together with many of the leaders in the spirits industry, and our philosophy of collaboration is reflected in the brands we’re developing, the companies we partner with, and the Kentucky communities that we represent.”

Started in late 2015 by two Kentucky-based distilleries, Collabor&tion is a culmination of nearly two years of work. Steve Nally, Bourbon Hall of Fame Master Distiller for BBCo, and Brandon O’Daniel, Head Distiller for C&K, hand-selected the bourbon for the project, meticulously blended it until it achieved the right flavor profiles, and chose the barrels for the finishing process.

“Coll&boration is not made to be collected; it’s far more special than that. Its heart is friendship, enjoying company, and bringing out the best in each other,” said Joe Heron, President & CEO of Copper & Kings American Brandy Company. “It is an exceptional bourbon that was made by friends for friends and is designed to be enjoyed with friends.”

“Exceptional bourbon will always carry beautiful dark fruit notes (figs, raisins, dates) as well as apple and pear to complement the classic honey, spice and butterscotch. Aging in brandy barrels not only accentuates these notes – it layers more on top of that foundation to create an incredibly rich, smooth and complex whiskey,” says Bardstown Bourbon Company Master Distiller Steve Nally. “I’ve been doing this a long time, and this is an amazing spirit – something I will share with my good friends with real pride.”

“A Mistelle barrel is a unique vessel. Mistelle is unfermented grape juice (in this case Muscat) fortified with un-aged brandy (Muscat eau-de-vie) and then aged in bourbon barrels for 18 months. The empty barrels are deeply and highly caramelized with the grape sugars and fruit essences. The whiskey exiting these barrels is pure joy. A completely novel sensory experience; deep, deep rich whiskey – very soft and supple, mellow, and the taste goes on forever. The whiskey notes are amplified by a softness and smoothness that is singular – to say the least. I could literally sip this for the rest of my life,” said Brandon O’Daniel, Head Distiller of Copper & Kings.

The bourbon used to produce Collabor&tion was distilled in Indiana in 2006 by Lawrenceburg Distillers, now MGP, and is made from 75% corn, 21% rye, and 4% malted barley. The Collabor&tion expression aged in Copper & Kings American brandy barrels is bottled at cask strength of 113 proof. The Mistelle barrel finish is bottled at cask strength of 94 proof.

Collabor&tion is a very limited release that’s only available in select Kentucky retail stores, at the BBCo and C&K gift shops, and a small selection of fine retailers across the USA.


Disclaimer: Copper & Kings and The Bardstown Bourbon Company provided Bourbon & Banter with a sample of their product for this review. We appreciate their willingness to allow us to review their products with no strings attached. Thank you.


About the Author

Matt Self

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Raised in the great state of Tennessee, Matt has a hard time admitting the native spirit of the Bluegrass neighbor to the north captured his obsession (& most of his wallet). Having progressed through the red solo cup days to a passion for a barrel-proof wheated bourbon, neat, Matt is always on the hunt for the next bottle. When he is not scouting or sipping bourbon, Matt spends time with his wife and four children. When he needs money for the next trip to Bardstown, Matt manages a wealth management firm. He always buys bourbon to drink and believes nothing should come between friends except two rocks glasses and a three-finger pour.