Barton 1792 gets around more than one might think. On top of the in-house 1792 line, their whiskey is used for the likes of Very Old Barton, Sam Houston, Calumet Farm, Goodwood, and perhaps most recently, Thomas S. Moore. The name is taken from a pioneer who, in 1889, built the distillery that ultimately became Barton 1792. The gimmick with this bourbon line is that each bottling is finished, with the initial launch bringing three expressions: Port, Chardonnay, and Cabernet Sauvignon. We’ll be looking at the latter today.
Although the use of casks that previously held fortified wine (wine with distilled spirit added) for finishing is all but commonplace these days, unfortified wine (Chardonnay, Cabernet Sauvignon, Pinot Grigio, etc.) has remained mostly untapped. It’s not like the idea hasn’t already been toyed with in some capacity: brands have released bottlings that take various wines, be it Cabernet Sauvignon or Chardonnay, and finish them in ex-bourbon casks. The Thomas S. Moore line seems poised to seize a potentially untapped niche part of the market, so let’s see how Barton 1792 distillate mingles with the famously tannic red wine that is Cabernet Sauvignon.
Nose: Sweet and dry at the same time. Oak and dark fruits—think prunes and dates. Caramel and chocolate. The dried, red grape influence from the wine is present, but not overly so. Fairly tannic overall, but with some fruit and tobacco-like notes. A little Christmas spice cake after sipping.
Palate: Initial hit of warm caramel and rich vanilla quickly superseded by lots of dark, stewed fruit (prune, fig, raisin) before the caramel returns, complemented by an expectedly viscous mouthfeel. Mild to moderately tannic oak presence that feels both enhanced and reined in by the finish.
Finish: Dried cranberries, tobacco, and oak. Red grapes linger with a little caramel and a good amount of oaky warmth.
This whiskey takes you on a journey. Those were the only words that came to mind after I pondered my initial sip. It’s tough to say whether the bourbon used is older than the likes of 1792 Small Batch before finishing, or if the wine casks are imparting a more mature personality. The answer likely resides somewhere in the middle, but it’s just one example of how contemplative this pour can be. Factor in how fatigued I’ve felt over finished products recently, as well as the unimpressive nose, and I wasn’t expecting to be head over heels about this product. Turns out there’s quite a bit to enjoy here, especially if you’re a fan of Barton and finished bourbon. It’s enough to almost make me forget that finished bourbons aren’t something I normally reach for…almost.
I won’t deny when I’m impressed by something, nor will I hesitate to call something great (or even excellent) while admitting that it ultimately isn’t my jam. Thomas S. Moore Cabernet Sauvignon Finish highlights both of these. The personality of this expression is undeniable, from the rich mouthfeel to the respectable tannins and showstopper of a finish. All that being said, I’m not much of a wine drinker, and the added personality this bourbon reaps from its finishing cask(s) is one that I dig, but don’t want to regularly engage with. Think of it like a date that goes great, is fun, but at the end of the day/night, you just don’t see a relationship happening with this person. They’re not quite your type, but they definitely left an impression.