Taconic Cabernet Cask Finished Bourbon Review
Cabernet is one of my favorite styles of wine, but I haven't seen too many whiskeys finished in this style of barrel before... When founder of Taconic Distillery and jack-of-all-trades Paul Coughlin told me the cab finish was one of their gift shop best-sellers, I knew I had to try it. My previous Taconic experiences mainly come from small tastes - I've never done a real deep dive into their distillate. I've tried 3 single barrel bourbons that Kappy's Fine Wine & Spirits selected - one of each of their barrel picks now lives on forever in my infinity barrel blend. You might spot them in this incredibly fast paced (and insane) dump video. I also have given a brief review of the Madeira finished rye that also made it to Mass. In general we haven't seen a ton of their product roll through my home state. One of my favorite things that I've tried from Taconic was a Mizunara cask finish that I got to try at a tasting event. I remember it being one of the best things I tasted that day, and my good friend Frank's recent review seems to back that finding up.
I'm excited to give this offering a fair shake! I'd like to thank Paul at Taconic for sending me a bottle of this whiskey for review and allowing me to taste it with no strings attached. Now let's dive in.
Company on Label: Taconic Distillery
Whiskey Type: Finished Bourbon
Mash Bill Percentages: 70% Corn, 25% Rye, and 5% Malted Barley
Age: NAS (but assumed to be aged 4 years at time of writing)
Further identification: This tasting room release should be available for visitors at their retail location in the heart of Dutchess County; it is open Saturdays from noon to 6 PM
Nose: Up front I find a very corn-forward, dusty aroma first breath off the glass. There is fantastic peanut brittle, caramel and toffee tones that come across soft yet aromatic. Bit of chocolate mix well with a fun floral funk. On a deeper inhale I find slightly tropical fresh fruit aromas. There's a bit of drying oak clearly tied to them which tells me I may have just unearthed some of that cabernet influence here. Oh yeah, it's like a fruity light switch just went off now where the earthy chocolate tones carried in a basket of sweetness; there's plum and raspberry here while a distinct grape skin texture fills out a robust nose-feel. The glass feels borderline creamy, but it leans just a hair further towards the tannic oak side of things without being overbearingly so. This feels like another great example of not relying on a finish to take over a whiskey, but allowing subtle nuances to build upon an already well-crafted whiskey. Time for a sip!
After coming back from a few sips I find the nose has opened up marvelously, showing off a decent bit of rye spice and a big red-wine influence that actually reminds me more of a port wine than a cabernet. The nose-feel is notably more creamy now and deep inhales show off really high quality charred oak aromas of universally appealing vanilla and pie crust. Overall this smells like a solid bourbon profile; I'm impressed with how nuanced and light the finish is on this, as I'm a big fan of letting the whiskey speak for itself in general. Oh wow, late in the glass there is a big, sweet navel orange aroma that develops. I dig that. The empty glass smells of dry top soil, soft herbal notes, and a light sprinkle of nutmeg.
Palate: Oooh, this is satisfyingly light on the tongue without sacrificing flavor. Up front I get cherry skins, raisins and a faint chocolate covered peanut. The mouth feel is really interesting here as it seems to coat my mouth in a way that I typically associate with certain foods like a savory Korean beef rice bowl might. Another sip reveals creamy caramel, rich red grape and blackberry cobbler flavors that dance slowly across the taste buds. It presents much like the nose did initially - soft yet an impressive volume of flavor. Coming back after a brief rest there are soft citrus notes that have crept in now; not sharp, zesty notes, but almost like a little squeeze of orange drizzled over vanilla bean ice cream. The whole conglomeration is unironically 'smooth': devoid of any sharp notes, bright flashes or unwarranted spice zaps. It's incredibly relaxing to sit with and enjoy even with an analytical mind fully activated on a first pour of the day. Later in the glass there are some increasing undulations of malt that are a little off profile for what I am usually looking for, but the fruity tones do well to balance this out. The linger is impressively long for this proof point and it carries soft maraschino cherries alongside cacao-laden oak. My last sip is more on the tannic side but it brings forth the fruit flavors in droves and I am here for it. Yum!
(Really good; I want one of these on my shelf.)
While I do tend to like my whiskey alcohol content to be high, this is one of those great examples of something that consistently delivers big flavors at incredibly approachable proofs. This cabernet finish was right up my alley. I'd love to know how long the finishing process was run for, as it feels like it may have been on the shorter end. It would be interesting to see how the results may change with a little extra time in the cabernet barrels. Great release! Cheers & thanks for reading