Drink of the Week: Thomas S. Moore Extended Cask-Finished Bourbons - Imbibe Magazine Subscribe + Save

Drink of the Week: Thomas S. Moore Extended Cask-Finished Bourbons

Usually right around this time of year, I’m packing my suitcase, putting on my bourbon-drinking shoes, and heading to Kentucky for what’s become an annual expedition for me. There’ve been frigid Februarys and shirt-sleeve Februarys over the course of the years I’ve been making this trip, but what they’ve always had in common are days and nights spent visiting the familiar stations of the bourbon cross. Daytimes are for visiting distilleries, roaming the roads from Louisville to Bardstown and from Frankfort to Lexington—and in the evenings, there’s the important business of meeting up with old friends to sip whiskey and cocktails at favorite spots like the Silver Dollar and Proof on Main (or relative newcomers like High Horse and Expo), the week culminating with the two-day Bourbon Classic.

This past year, of course, has been anything but the usual, so my whiskey-country wandering is on hold until further notice. But that’s not stopping me from seeing what some of these distilleries have been up to—and at the Barton 1792 distillery near Bardstown, they’ve been up to something pretty interesting.

Just before the holidays, Barton introduced its Thomas S. Moore line of experimental finished bourbons. In this initial three-pronged launch of what’s slated to be an annual release, Barton’s high-rye bourbon underwent extended cask finishing in barrels that previously held Chardonnay, Cabernet Sauvignon, and port. Cask-finishing is nothing new, of course, but these bourbons still mark a departure from the norm—because while the typical barrel-finish protocol calls for resting the whiskey in a finishing barrel for a matter of weeks or months, Barton’s team invests years in the process, the whiskies evolving in the finishing barrels over the course of several seasons.

And the results? The Chardonnay cask’s bourbon emerged crisp and bright, with an aroma of green apples and fresh grass, the flavor balancing cereal sweetness with lemon zest and brittle. The Cabernet Sauvignon finish is dry and austere, with a wisp of dried flowers in the aroma opening up to a gentle jamminess in the glass. 

The port finish, however, may be my favorite—with whiffs of plum skin in the fragrance, a rounded texture, and warming flavors of baking spice and fruit preserves, this bourbon placed the winter season squarely in my mind. The only things missing from the new-bourbon experience were hearing the voices of friends and colleagues, smelling the fragrant tang from the fermenters, and the feeling of the occasional stray corn kernel crunching beneath my bourbon-drinking shoes as I make my way through a favorite distillery. 

For now, though, there’s good bourbon, and that—along with the hopes I’ll be back in Kentucky again before another year passes—is helping to make these cold February evenings a bit more pleasant. $69.99, Check with local retailers for availability.

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