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Savage & Cooke American Whiskey




Whiskey Review: Savage & Cooke American Whiskey

Tasting Notes:

Sourced and aged in ex-bourbon barrels for at least four years; mash bill of 66% corn, 30% rye, and 4% malted barley; partially finished in ex-Zinfandel barrels for two months; 113 proof; $55.
The glass contains a rich variant of golden amber, highlighted with reddish hues. The legs are lovely and well-formed, with some slight viscosity.
There’s life and vibrancy when my nose nears the glass. At this core are hints of raspberries, vanilla, caramel, chocolate pudding, and a touch of spice.
Jammy, jammy, jammy. This is like fresh strawberry marmalade, bright cinnamon, black pepper, vanilla, caramel, cotton candy, and watermelon blended in a pleasant, tasty surprise.
This goes down super smooth, with some spice, sweetness, and a long, dry note in my throat.
Having reviewed all three of Savage & Cooke’s core whiskeys, this is my favorite. I love Zinfandel, and the choice of finishing barrel from this wine type for this sourced expression was spot on. Kudos to the distillery team for taking someone else’s juice and crafting it into something so lovely.

Editor’s Note: This whiskey was provided to us as a review sample by the party behind it. 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 link in this review our site receives a small referral payment which helps to support, but not influence, our editorial and other costs.

California’s renowned Napa Valley is known much more for world-class wine than whiskey. Some there, however, such as well-regarded winemaker Dave Phinney, have also chosen the distillery route. Phinney’s operation, known as Savage & Cooke, opened on the historic Mare Island back in 2018. Working alongside master distiller and Breckenridge Distillery co-founder Jordan Via, Phinney released three new whiskeys with a distinctly Californian flair last year.

For Phinney, he began his journey into wine in 1998, founding his first label with a couple of tons of zinfandel. He cut his teeth for the next decade after that, making wine for himself and others while developing a well-regarded industry reputation. From here, he developed an interest in spirits, leading to the eventual development and opening of Savage & Cooke.

Phinney’s choice of location for said distillery is unique in that Mare Island is a former naval shipyard. He was drawn there due to its history, plentiful space, unique brownstone buildings, and proximity to both the Napa Valley and San Francisco.

The whiskey I’m reviewing today, Savage & Cooke American Whiskey, is a bit of a holdover from Phinney’s early days in the spirits world. Purchased by Savage & Cooke as a sourced whiskey, ex-bourbon barrels aged what would become this expression for a minimum of four years, sometimes longer, at the distillery. Made from a mash bill of 66% corn, 30% rye, and 4% malted barley, a portion was transferred to Phinney’s Zinfandel barrels for finishing for about two months to add “flavor, texture, and character.”

Savage & Cooke American Whiskey, bottled at a cask strength of 113 proof, is priced at $55.

Nino Kilgore-Marchetti

Nino Kilgore-Marchetti is the former founder of The Whiskey Wash, an award-winning whiskey lifestyle website dedicated to informing and entertaining consumers about whisk(e)y globally. As a whisk(e)y journalist, expert, and judge, he has written extensively about the subject, been interviewed in various media outlets, and provided tasting input on many whiskeys at competitions.

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