thomas moore cabernet finish bourbon review

Thomas Moore Cabernet Sauvignon Finish Bourbon

thomas-moore-cabernet-finish-compressed

Distillery: Barton 1792

Type & Region: Bourbon, Kentucky, USA

Alcohol: 47.65%

Composition: 74% corn, 18% rye, 8% barley

Aged: NAS but rumored to be ~5 years old before the finish

Color: 1.5/2.0 on the color scale (auburn, polished mahogany)

Price: $70-80

From the press release:

 

“Their signature high rye recipe bourbon is aged for many years in new charred oak barrels before filling other casks that previously matured various wines or spirits from around the world, ranging from Cognac to Cabernet to Port and more. In these fabulous casks, the bourbon aged an additional one to three years. This extended cask-finishing method results in elegant whiskeys, each displaying a distinct flavor profile, reflecting nuances of both the bourbon and the finishing cask.”

thomas moore cabernet finish bourbon overview

Thomas Moore Cabernet Sauvignon Finish Bourbon is one of three wine-finished bourbons released by 1792 Barton to experiment with extended cask finishing (portcabernet sauvignonchardonnay). To Barton, extended means 1-3 years, which I would also define as extended when most finishes are 3-6 months, so that’s interesting. I’m not entirely sure if this finish this is closer to 1 or 3 years though. This also marks Barton’s initial release of their “ultra-premium” line of bourbons, whatever the heck that means.


Cabernet Sauvignon is a broad term for a type of red wine made from the cabernet sauvignon grape that is now grown across the world. Unlike port wine, it’s not specific to a single place or country. Regardless of origin, I’d expect the Cabernet Sauvignon cask finish to infuse extra dark berry fruitiness, possibly some vegetal grassiness, oak from the cask itself, and drying tannins from both the wine and cask. It’s also not as intensely sweet as port is, so I expect the finish to be less sweet, although 1792 could have finished this bourbon longer to extract more sweetness and oak. Let’s dig into the fruits of 1792’s labor in this Thomas Moore Cabernet Sauvignon Cask Finish Bourbon review.

thomas moore cabernet finish bourbon smell

At first sniff, Thomas Moore Cabernet Sauvignon Finish Bourbon has a well-integrated blend of dark honey, dark berries, prunes, tobacco, candied orange, lightly funky vanilla buttercream, licorice, oak, clove, and a very faint nuttiness. The wine finish adds a lot of blueberry, raspberry, and prune that enhances the bourbon. At the same time, there’s no harsh heat or oak that I found in the Port Finish version to detract from the experience.

 

Swirling releases more inviting and enjoyable fragrance. It’s caramelized honey, candied blueberry and raspberry, dried dates, apricot, tobacco, vanilla, a little roasted oak, clove, licorice, and dark chocolate. The bourbon is fruit-forward from the wine finish yet still smells well balanced, and the underlying bourbon itself doesn’t have any of the unpleasant harshness or astringency. The Cabernet Sauvignon finish feels right at home, and I can tell that it belongs. There’s also some vibrance and pop that wasn’t in the port finish version, so that helps a lot. My main critique is that the lower ABV robs this of a lot of richness, complexity, and life that I can tell is here. As-is though, I like it a lot.

thomas moore cabernet finish bourbon taste & aftertaste

Thomas Moore Cabernet Finish has darker toasted caramel, lightly burnt vanilla, mashed up blueberry and blackberry, orange peel, roasted oak, cinnamon, clove, licorice, tobacco, and hints of grassiness. The flavors are quite creamy, flavorful, but not so in my face and intense due to the proof. It’s a fruity and very drinkable bourbon, and the wine finish is not overwhelming at all. 

 

With “chewing” I taste fairly rich roasted honey, some oak tannins and tobacco, candied berries and dates, vanilla, a tad more oaky bite, cinnamon, and clove. It’s a nice balance of the roasty and sweet bourbon plus fruity cabernet sauvignon that’s very flavorful and easy to drink, but often pretty straightforward. I like fruitier bourbons and Thomas Moore Cabernet Sauvignon Finish definitely satisfies that itch. It could have used a little more oomph to get it “Top Shelf” because the flavors are a little too soft and flat, likely from the lower ABV, but it’s still much better than Thomas Moore Port Finish Bourbon.

 

 

Oak tannins lead the finish, followed by caramel, dark berries, licorice, tobacco, coffee grounds. It leaves a really enjoyable and smooth oakiness, tobacco, and light berry freshness every time.  

Place on the Whiskey Shelf

Mid shelf+

I’m happy with Thomas Moore Cabernet Cask Finish, although the “Mid Shelf+” rating might not fully capture it. The amount of Cabernet Sauvignon finish is just right and meshes well with the base 1792 bourbon, fusing into a nicely sweet, berry-forward, tobacco-y, and moderately spicy bourbon that’s quite fragrant and delicious. The finish here is far less heavy-handed than the Port finish, and for whatever reason overall is much less harsh and astringent than the Port cask finish version. Admittedly, it still feels straightforward at times and lacks enough depth and pop to get to “Top Shelf”, but it’s very good already.


The criminally way too low 47.65% ABV is the real issue here, washing out so much of the fruitiness, oak, and overall richness. 1792, why must you torment me with this lovely finish but drown it in water? You have a real gem here, but under-proofed it for some unwarranted reason. At the end of year, I can see this winning an award for “so good but didn’t meet its full potential”. I’ve seen pricing from $60-80, and I think it’s compelling at around $60, but less so at $80. At $80, I’d only recommend it if you really love finished bourbon, because there aren’t that many good options under $80. I would buy it again if the price was right. Overall though, I think Barton 1792 did a good job, but the low ABV was a questionable decision.

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