thomas moore port finish bourbon review
Thomas Moore Port Finish Bourbon
Distillery: Barton 1792
Type & Region: Bourbon, Kentucky, USA
Composition: 74% corn, 18% rye, 8% barley
Aged: NAS but rumored to be ~5 years old before the finish
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 port finish bourbon overview
Thomas Moore Port Finish Bourbon is one of three wine-finished bourbons released by 1792 Barton to experiment with extended cask finishing (port, cabernet sauvignon, chardonnay). 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 the port finish in 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.
As a refresher, port is a Portuguese fortified wine, often associated with intense and dark sweetness. It’s like drinking syrupy raisins, although admittedly it is more varied and nuanced than that, I just happen to drink more sherry than I do port. I personally find that dark and fruity port wine finishes mesh well with bourbon, with Redwood Empire Haystack Needle Port Finish being one of my favorites. Let’s find out what this 2+ year port cask finish does in the Thomas Moore Port Cask Finish Bourbon review.
thomas moore port finish bourbon smell
Dark berries and fruits (dates, prunes, dried cherries) with light nuttiness and funkiness come surging out of the glass, followed by dark honey, toasted vanilla, ripe peaches, oak, and cinnamon. And yes, it does have some of that aged cheesy funk I usually find in fortified wine-finished bourbons. It’s not that oaky initially, but yup…this is definitely port finished given how port-y it is, and I like it. While the heat itself is fine, there’s definitely a slight harshness / roughness around the overall scents, but I can’t quite clearly point to what might be causing it. Maybe it’s the oak and/or the alcohol.
Thomas Moore Port Finish Bourbon smells similar after swirling and letting it sit. It’s somewhat dense honey and dark berries (dates, prunes, dried cherries), roasted vanilla, oak, cinnamon, and roasted coconut. There’s a ton of port influence here, a byproduct of the extended finish. There’s still some of that harshness that I don’t like, although at least there isn’t much heat to battle as well. Overall, this smells good but is straightforward and not particularly deep, so it isn’t anything spectacular. That hurts me to write because I want to love every finished bourbon.
thomas moore port finish bourbon taste & aftertaste
My initial sip is loaded with sweet honey, dates, and prunes, then vanilla, oak, and cinnamon. It’s surprisingly quite oaky and roasty with just a little alcohol kick. The fruitiness is good, but I also can’t help but shake the thought that this is kind of dull and surface level.
With “chewing”, Thomas Moore Port Cask is sweet with dark berries, honey, vanilla, that port and aged oak funk, then roasted oak, cinnamon, dried coffee grounds, and just a little chocolate. The flavors are even more oaky and roasty now, and I can’t tell if it’s the base bourbon or the finish doing that. All together, this tastes fairly straightforward – dark fruit, honey, and oak with little evolution over time and few layers to uncover. It oddly tastes old yet still under-developed. I like it, but it’s not great by any means.
The finish is similar to the flavors with honey, dates, prunes, and oak. The finish is initially quite oaky and a tad overdone for me. “Chewing” leaves more dark berries, roasted oak, and licorice. Now that my mouth has adjusted, it’s not overly oaky anymore, but still quite oaky. It all ends fades into a long-lasting oak and fresh wintergreen mint, which is a nice final touch to the bourbon.
Place on the Whiskey Shelf
Let me first say that I love finished bourbons more than most people do. I mostly like that the port finish is abundantly present with prunes, dates, and aged funk, but it all comes off one-dimensional and oddly not that interesting, so it’s not remotely special or memorable. I say this a lot, but I wonder if the base bourbon itself wasn’t all that great before it was finished for a few years. Finishing can’t fix a bourbon; I truly believe it can only enhance what’s there. The port finish itself isn’t quite overpowering or overdone, although some might say that it’s close, so I guess I’m wanting for a better base bourbon.
Thomas Moore Port Finish is not quite a smashing success but also not a total miss, so I’m left a little disappointed when I factor in what 1792 Barton was probably trying to accomplish. While there aren’t very many finished bourbons in the sub-$80 range, the best one that comes to mind is One Eight Untitled 13, a 10 year old bourbon finished in sherry, cognac, and Spanish brandy, for around $70-80. Unfortunately, it’s not that widely distributed, but it’s probably the best finished bourbon I can find for under $100. If you can’t find that, Joseph Magnus Bourbon for $80-100 is your next best bet.