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Bourbon

Savage & Cooke Bourbon

$55.00

OVERALL
RATING

8

Whiskey Review: Savage & Cooke Bourbon

Tasting Notes:

About:
Distilled from a mash bill of 75% corn/21% rye/4% malted barley; aged in New American Oak barrels a minimum of three years; partially finished in Cabernet Sauvignon barrels; bottled at 100 proof; priced at $55.
Appearance:
The Cabernet Sauvignon barrel finishing is immediately evident in the color, with a slight reddish influence in the typical golden amber. Legs and viscosity on this are solid.
Nose:
This is rich and vibrant, with commanding scents of brown sugar, mushroom, oak, blackberries, rye bread and a hint of vanilla in the mix.
Palate:
This swims along with a bit of turbulence in my mouth but isn’t too bad as it settles. Baking spice, blackberries, rye bread, vanilla, caramel and Jolly Rancher cherry drop in here.
Finish:
Comments:
This is overall a really good bourbon, particularly on the nose side of things. The only thing really holding back from a better score is the fact I found the palate to be a little disjointed. Still, this is one you’ll want to consider, especially if you are a lover of Phinney’s wines.

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 versus whiskey. Some there, however, such as well regarded winemaker Dave Phinney, have chosen to go the distillery route as well. 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 last year three new whiskeys with a distinctly Californian flair to them.

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 very well regarded reputation in the industry. From here he developed an interest in spirits, and this led 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 apparently 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 here today, Savage & Cooke Bourbon, was distilled from grains (mash bill of 75% corn/21% rye/4% malted barley) grown within 50 miles of the distillery to what’s described as “a precise specification.” Making use of spring water drawn from a high elevation mountain property Phinney owns, all production for this bourbon, starting from milling and mashing to fermentation, distillation and aging, occurred on site.

For the bourbon, five batches of distillate are blended at a time for “consistency,” followed by barreling for a minimum of three years in new White American Oak barrels with a #3 char that were hand crafted by local cooper Seguin Moreau. Once considered ready by Via, a portion of the bourbon is transferred to Phinney’s Cabernet Sauvignon barrels for a period of about two months for finishing before bottling occurs at 100 proof.

Savage & Cooke Bourbon review
We review Savage & Cooke Bourbon, a California high rye bourbon finished in Cabernet Sauvignon barrels owned by a famous winemaker. (image via Savage & Cooke)

Tasting Notes: Savage & Cooke Bourbon

Vital Stats: Distilled from a mash bill of 75% corn/21% rye/4% malted barley; aged in New American Oak barrels a minimum of three years; partially finished in Cabernet Sauvignon barrels; bottled at 100 proof; priced at $55.

Appearance: The Cabernet Sauvignon barrel finishing is immediately evident in the color, with a slight reddish influence in the typical golden amber. Legs and viscosity on this are solid.

Nose: This is rich and vibrant, with commanding scents of brown sugar, mushroom, oak, blackberries, rye bread and a hint of vanilla in the mix.

Palate: This swims along with a bit of turbulence in my mouth but isn’t too bad as it settles. Baking spice, blackberries, rye bread, vanilla, caramel and Jolly Rancher cherry drop in here. Finish is steady and strong, more on the spicy, with a slow fade off.

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