While one of the country’s newest bourbon distilleries continues to crank out juice for contract distillers and clients, Bardstown Bourbon Co. also is making a name for itself with its own Collaborative Series.
In 2017, BBCo partnered with Louisville’s Copper & Kings to produce two Collabor&tion finished bourbons, and now it is continuing that series with its latest release, the Phifer Pavitt Reserve. The product brought together two of the top spirits makers in the country — BBCo Master Distiller Steve Nally and Suzanne Phifer Pavitt, vintner of Napa Valley’s Phifer Pavitt Winery.
Phifer Pavitt Reserve consists of 9-year-old Tennessee bourbon — yes, it’s bourbon, not Tennessee whiskey — that was finished for 19 months in freshly dumped Phifer Pavitt Cabernet Sauvignon barrels. The result is a rich, robust and darker tinted bourbon with strong notes of chocolate and blackberry on the finish.
It’s now available at the BBCo Distillery in Bardstown and at select stores for a suggested retail price of $124.99. It’s also bottled at cask strength, at 107 proof (give or take a few points per barrel), and nonchill-filtered.
In February, BBCo invited members of the media, including Insider, to sample the product and also hear more about the collaborative process between Nally and Phifer Pavitt.
We’ve been longtime fans of Nally, who is in the Bourbon Hall of Fame and previously worked at Maker’s Mark, and we were instantly impressed by the down-to-earth yet professional nature of Phifer Pavitt.
The Georgia native found her way to California and started the 23-acre winery in Napa Valley with her husband in 1999. Phifer Pavitt prides quality and sustainability above all else, which made partnering with BBCo a no-brainer for her.
This is her first foray into the bourbon world, which she says is quite comparable to the wine industry in terms of taking a hands-off approach and letting nature do most of the hard work. The intricacies in wine also involve timing, which is why her company harvests its grapes at midnight — because the colder the grape, the less likely the skin will pierce.
The barrels for the Phifer Pavitt Reserve had to be shipped to Kentucky in a refrigerated truck directly after being dumped to keep the wine remnants from spoiling. And Nally says that because the French wine barrels are larger than bourbon barrels, he had to shift some things around in the rick house in order to get them to the top floor to age the additional 19 months.
One thing Phifer Pavitt did have to adjust to was the notion of using her wine in a cocktail, which the mixology team at BBCo’s onsite Bottle & Bond restaurant and bar did to incorporate the new product on the menu. The cocktail, called The Moxie, was made with Phifer Pavitt Reserve bourbon, lemon juice and simple syrup, and then topped with Phifer Pavitt Cabernet Sauvignon.
Despite her hesitation of putting fine wine into a cocktail, she admits it makes a pretty damn fine drink.
Here are some photos from our time at BBCo with Phifer Pavitt and Nally: