Bourbon By Nino Marchetti / February 5, 2015 David Swift Phinney is a well established winemaker behind the internationally popular Orin Swift Cellars operation out of Napa Valley in California. He’s been in the wine business since the late 1990s but, as the story goes, the idea of distilling has sat with him for some fourteen years since he “listened intently to a taxi cab driver wax poetic about his upbringing in the Caribbean and his memories of distilling bathtub rum with his father and grandfather.” To this end, and after collaboration with “wine business buddies,” he has now branched out into a wine cask influenced bourbon known as Straight Edge. Straight Edge Bourbon, being handled by an entity called Splinter Group Spirits, is what looks to be a six year old whiskey, likely sourced, that saw some time aging in the Swift winery’s Mercury Head Cabernet Sauvignon barrels. It was reportedly “tamed with pristine water originating from a natural hillside spring found on Dave’s property 2000 feet above the Alexander Valley in California,” resulting in a spirit bottled at 84 proof. What’s been called “micro batch experimentation” and the wine cask maturation has resulted in a bourbon described by Swift as having “a rich, layered and unique oak profile.” More specific official tasting notes are below, and as for availability and pricing, it is out now at Binny’s for around $50, among other places. Aromatically intriguing with brown sugar, maple, caramelized oak, exotic spices, orange peel and campfire. The palate is velvety smooth, rich and packed with flavors of brown spice, honey and intense caramel. The complexity is apparent and the finish is persistent, long lasting and focused.