Maker: Barton 1792, Bardstown, Kentucky, USA (Sazerac)
Style: Rye-recipe bourbon finished in Cabernet Sauvignon casks.
Age: NAS (at least 4 y/o)
Proof: 95.3 (47.65% ABV)
Michigan state minimum: $70
Appearance: Ruddy brown.
Nose: Overdone cherry pie, particle board, alcohol, anise.
Palate: Full bodied. Cherry juice, oak, then burn.
Finish: Cherry vanilla ice cream, alcohol.
Parting words: Sazerac has done a lot with the Barton distillery in Bardstown since they purchased the distillery from Constellation in 2009. The latest thing is the Thomas S. Moore line of wine barrel finished bourbons.
I’m not a purist when it comes to finished bourbon. I think a finish can be a nice addition to bourbon when applied judiciously and when the underlying bourbon is good quality. Fortified wine finishes are pretty common with whiskeys of all kinds, so I thought I’d try the Cab Sauv finish first. The finish adds some fun, fruity notes, but they’re quickly overcome by an underlying unrefined harshness. Water reduces the heat, but the harshness remains. It reminds me of going to my senior prom. I was wearing a tux and a sporting a fresh haircut, but underneath I was the same crude, rude teen.
If this were $20 cheaper, this harshness might be easier to overlook or I could write it off as an interesting mixer, but $70 is serious money for a bourbon from a major distiller. Sazerac can do better than this.
While I’m at it, I might as well mention the bottle and label, which are worse than what’s inside. The two tone horse picture, disjointed graphic design, and ugly, generic bottle, makes Thomas S. Moore look more like a prop from a mid-century movie set than a 21st century high-end bourbon.
Thomas S. Moore, Cabernet Sauvignon cask finish is not recommended.