Thomas S. Moore Merlot casks Cask Finish Kentucky Straight Bourbon Whiskey

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Merlot cask finishing has been popular with many distilleries hoping to pair bourbon with wine. The rich fruitiness of the merlot wine tends to be bold providing ample legs against bourbon’s typical vanilla, caramel, and oak.

The nose starts off quite well providing the red fruit sweetness you’d expect. The palate is packed with a good deal of stone fruit notes that never goes overboard with sweetness. But it’s this whiskey’s finish that completely derails the entire sip. Tannic, over-oaked, and off-tasting, it simply doesn’t work. I’d suspect the issue stems from this being over-finished in the merlot casks. Barton offers a 2-4 year time frame the bourbon’s finishing time and anything going over two years was probably too much. The finish is downright bad, which is a shame since the nose and palate set this whiskey up so well. Perhaps giving it some time to open up will help even it out, but I worry the damage has already been done and there’s no hope of saving this whiskey.
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