Bardstown Bourbon Company (BBCo) has announced the first bottling in their Collaborative Series – a Tennessee Bourbon finished in Phifer Pavitt Cabernet Sauvignon barrels.
The Collaborative Series was introduced to a group of industry insiders last week by team members from both Phifer Pavitt Winery and BBCo. The first in the series, Phifer Pavitt Reserve, is a nine year old Straight Tennessee Bourbon Whiskey finished in Cabernet Sauvignon barrels.
The new release began with organically and sustainably farmed grapes at the Phifer Pavitt Winery in Calistoga, on the north west side of Napa Valley in California. After the grapes became a beautiful Cabernet Sauvignon and were held for three years in French Oak barrels, the casks were emptied and turned over to the distillers at BBCo.
“This particular vintage is an excellent example of a Napa Valley Cabernet,” explains Suzanne Phifer Pavitt, proprietress at the winery. She lists notes of currant, raspberry, and macerated cherry, with a slight hint of aged leather and freshly dried tobacco.
“All of these flavors come over to the bourbon side,” says Steve Nally, Master Distiller at BBCo. BBCo has only been producing its own distillate for two years, but they’ve purchased a good deal of mature whiskey for their many warehouses.
The team at BBCo (which includes Nally, President CEO David Mandell, Executive Director of Distillery Operations John Hargrove, and the culinary and bar team at Bottle & Bond Kitchen and Bar) was tasked with the job of finding the whiskey they felt would best complement the wine. Their winner was a nine year old Tennessee Straight Bourbon Whiskey with a mashbill of 84% corn, 8% rye, and 8% malted barley.
“One of the challenges we had was to go through these inventories and select the best product for Suzanne’s barrels,” said Nally. “Even within the Tennessee Bourbon, we selected barrels out of that.”
“You’re getting all these flavors out of it,” explains Nally of the whiskey, “and we don’t wanna change them or cover them up with the wine, we wanna marry them with the wine.”
After choosing their bourbon and transferring it to the wine barrels, the team began the patient process of tasting the barrels each step of the way.
“Finishing is kind of tricky – you can’t just say ‘we’re gonna do 18 months on a finish,” said Hargrove. “Right at about the 14 month mark we realized we needed to watch it.”
The final product was deemed perfect to bottle at 19 months. While the bourbon went into the wine barrels at a cask strength of 110.2 proof, it came out at a cask strength of 107 proof. The team explained that the wine still held in the barrel staves was enough to drop the overall ABV.
Official tasting notes for Phifer Pavitt Reserve include bold notes of plum, milk chocolate, and blackberries. “It’s non chill filtered – the fatty acids lend a different taste profile and allow us to keep that dark color to it,” explains Hargrove.
The Collaborative Series isn’t to be confused with the Collabor&tion bottles released with Copper & Kings Brandy. The team admits the Collaborative Series was inspired by their early Muscat Wine and American Brandy bottlings, but they count the Phifer Pavitt Reserve as their first in this line.
“The Collaborative Series are by design. They’ll have limited volume and have certain raw material that we’ll never be able to replicate,” stresses Hargrove. The series is intended to celebrate not only the whiskey it produces, but the artisans in the spirits world they’ve teamed with to produce it.
”Finishing is not a new concept, but this is about two companies working together,” said Nally.
While the Phifer Pavitt Reserve from the Collaboration Series is the first to be named and bottled, the team at BBCo also teased three new series we can expect in the coming months or years.
Their Origin Series will be entirely their own distillate, bottled under their label. While the distillery’s Collaborative Distilling program allows for them to make whiskey for over 20 clients, the Origin Series will be completely their own.
The Fusion Series will be a blend of their distillate married with mature bourbon from their stocks. Finally, their Discovery Series will be their blending experiments, using bourbon and whiskey sourced from other distilleries. Both are planned to launch later this year.
We’ll have to wait for Origin, Fusion, and Discovery – but Phifer Pavitt Reserve will be hitting shelves this spring at a suggested retail price of $125.