By Randall H. Borkus
Sazarac’s Barton 1792 Distillery has lately introduced its first ultra-premium Straight Bourbon Whiskey expression, named for Thomas S. Moore. These whiskeys have been finished in a variety of select casks from around the globe. The first three expressions became available on a limited release basis in December 2020, and all feature wine casks, including chardonnay, cabernet sauvignon and Port. (The chardonnay and cabernet sauvignon casks come from California).
In 1889, Thomas S. Moore built the distillery known today as Barton 1792 Distillery. Moore was an early pioneer in Bardstown, which is known today as the Bourbon Capital of the World. Leading up to Prohibition, Moore established a constantly evolving whiskey empire, growing his humble operation into a powerhouse distillery, but was forced to cease production in 1920.
Barton 1792 Distillery defines this new category as “extended cask finished” bourbon whiskeys. Master Distiller Danny Kahn at Barton 1792 Distillery explained in an online tasting that they use their signature high-rye mash bill aged in new charred oak barrels for 5 to 7 years. Then the whiskey is transferred into secondary casks for an “extended” finishing period that ranges for 2 to 5 additional years. * These secondary casks previously matured wines or spirits from around the world. This extended cask-finishing process results in elegant whiskey expressions, reflecting traditional flavors from the bourbon and significant hints from the secondary cask finishes.
The bottles are tall and sophisticated looking featuring imagery that pays homage to the legacy of Thomas S. Moore. The labels display the image of a racehorse standing tall, honoring one of Moore’s earliest whiskey brands, Belle of Nelson, named after the thoroughbred who won the Kentucky Oaks in 1877 and 2nd place in the Nashville Cup in 1878.
Here I am sampling the Thomas S. Moore Bourbon Finished in Cabernet Sauvignon Casks. It shares the 1792 High Rye mash bill as the Chardonnay, the difference being the wine cask used for finishing. This new flavor expression that drinks easy at 95.3 proof.
The color in my glass is a dark reddish amber with dense legs clinging to the sides of my glass. The nose fills my senses with dried dark fruits reminding me of blackberry, cherry, and a hint of oak laden fruit preserves. The front palate sports a silky-smooth mouthfeel exhibiting ripe plums and fruit preserves bursting in my mouth. The middle palate reminds me of a creamy, spongy caramel-vanilla tres leches (my favorite Mexican cake). The finish is bold with a soothing raspberry jam candy and charred oak spice. This is a very good bourbon whiskey which I really enjoyed imbibing.
The inaugural trio of whiskeys releases will be limited in availability, as they are essentially one-off batches. However, the brand promises additional creative cask-finished releases to be unveiled every year in the fall. Suggested retail price is $69.99 and may vary depending upon your market.
* Editor’s Note: Compare this against the more normal finishing period of just several months.