Whiskey Reviews: Daviess County Kentucky Straight Whiskey and Daviess County Cabernet Cask Finish

, | November 7, 2021

Editor’s Note: These whiskies were provided to us as review samples by Lux Row Distillers. This in no way, per our editorial policies, influenced the final outcome of this review. It should also be noted that by clicking the buy links towards the bottom of this review our site receives a small referral payment which helps to support, but not influence, our editorial and other costs.

Today we’re looking at two bourbons from Daviess County, a Lux Row Distillers joint. One is a straight bourbon whiskey and the other is the same liquid finished for six months in Cabernet Sauvignon casks.

That got me thinking. What actually happens when a whiskey is finished in a wine barrel? Wine finishes are pretty typical in the current market, so they feel familiar. We can thank Scotch for the trend. Since there’s no law around how many times a Scotch cask can be refilled, Scotland’s distillers started to use sherry casks as an additional step to add back aromatic compounds no longer present in the original casks.

Once new make spirit is placed in a barrel, acids and alcohols in the liquid interact with the oak and start to form esters (esters = flavor havens). When you later put that spirit into a former wine cask, the acids and alcohols get to form different esters with the wine residue. A shocking two to six liters of liquid can remain in oak staves after barrels are emptied.

Also, liquor’s higher alcohol content enables it to extract compounds from the barrel that the wine’s lower ABV couldn’t touch. Then those compounds interact with the wine to create even more esters.

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Lux Row Distillers, at this point, have taken over 18,000 square feet of Bardstown. They have six barrel warehouses and a 43 foot copper still that pumps out three million gallons of spirit annually. Daviess County is a resurrected brand that, according to corporate lore, first began in 1874. After surviving Prohibition and limping along for decades, the future Diageo closed its parent company in 1992. The story begins again with the 2020 revival.

Daviess County review

Daviess County Kentucky Straight Whiskey and Daviess County Cabernet Sauvignon Finish (image via Cindy Capparelli)

Tasting Notes: Daviess County Kentucky Straight Whiskey

Vital stats: Daviess County Kentucky Straight Whiskey is made from an undisclosed dual mash bill, is aged four years and clocks in at 96 proof. Find a 750mL bottle for $40 nationwide. Bardstown, Kentucky.

Appearance: This whiskey is a very clear, shining medium amber that beads and forms thick tears.

Nose: A central-casting bourbon aroma with gentle cedar spice and a smack of sour grain; interlaced with vanilla extract and peach skin.

Palate: Quite a bite! Black tea predominates the palate with allspice, black pepper and cereal funk supporting.

Score: 2.5/5

 

Tasting Notes: Daviess County Cabernet Sauvignon Finish

Vital stats: Daviess County Cabernet Sauvignon Finish is made from an undisclosed dual mash bill, is aged four years, spends six months in Cabernet Sauvignon barrels, and clocks in at 96 proof. Find a 750mL bottle for $45 nationwide. Bardstown, Kentucky.

Appearance: This whiskey is a very clear, medium amber with a copper cast that beads and forms thick tears.

Nose: This nose is plummy, creamier, though still gentle. A savory roasted quality plays in the background.

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Palate: It seems like I can feel the alcohol of a big red. It’s somewhat sweeter on the attack, with hard herbs like rosemary on the mid-palate. Lingering tannins make for a long, if not great, finish.

Score: 2/5

Final Thoughts: Both whiskeys are thin and hot. There’s too much bite with little reward. I thought the wine finish might soften the hard edges of the original, but it just seems to have intensified the alcohol. They’ll be fine for mixing, but there’s nothing remarkable about these whiskeys.

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Cindy Capparelli

In 2014 I founded Portland Bitters Project with the vision to create the best bitters on the market. Now our bitters are enjoyed around the country and internationally to make expressive, delicious cocktails. I teach at two Portland colleges and visit private groups, distilleries and maker's spaces to spread the...