By Richard Thomas
Back in 2019, Bardstown Bourbon Company (BBCo) teamed up with the California winery Phifer Pavitt to release a truly marvelous example of what a well-structured wine barrel finish can do for a bourbon. Shortly after BBCo fired up its first still, they took some Pavitt Cabernet Sauvignon casks, used to age that wine for three years, and gave a mature Tennessee-made bourbon 19 months of secondary maturation. That is a long time to age a wine and a very long time to finish a bourbon.
The result was predictable. BBCo itself was sold out when I was next there in person, in August 2019, and a bottle now fetches almost $500 on the retail market.
Success inspires a follow up, though, and in this case I think they managed to one-up themselves at BBCo. Phifer Pavitt Cabernet Sauvignon Finished Bourbon #2 is based on a 10 year old Tennessee bourbon, given an 18 month finish in those same Phifer Pavitt “Cab Sav” barrels. Unlike #1, which was bottled at cask strength, this installment was done at 100 proof.
Despite the pandemic, I’m going to need to get my arse back to Bardstown and snag a bottle. Hopefully they will still have some this time!
BBCo Phifer Pavitt #2 has an amber coloring in the glass (of course), but one that leans deeply into the red. The nose is fruity, atop a rich pile of cookie dough. That suggests a rich palate, and the bourbon delivers. Graham crackers dusted with brown sugar and drizzled with vanilla syrup provide the foundation, with a smearing of crushed red fruits over the top. The finish is a light one, fading fast, but perfectly balanced between traditional bourbon and the wine barrel influence.
A bottle of this will set you back $124.99.