McFarlane’s Reserve 12 Year Cabernet Finished Bourbon Review

IJW is a little known company that actually produces quite a few whiskeys. The majority, if not all, of their whiskeys, are sold through Total Wine & More. A relatively recently release is their McFarlane's Reserve 12 Year Old Bourbon Finished in Cabernet Sauvignon Barrels. I have found their prior whiskeys to be well balanced, in addition to being very good values. This one also does not disappoint. Read all about it in our full review!

McFarlane’s Reserve
Barrel Finished Straight Bourbon Whiskey
Finished in Cabernet Sauvignon Barrels
Age: 12 Years
90 Proof
Bottled by IJW Whiskey Company
MSRP: $99.99

Please enjoy our McFarlane’s Reserve 12 Year Cabernet Sauvignon Finished Bourbon review!

Today, I am tasting McFarlane’s Reserve 12 Year Bourbon Finished in Cabernet Sauvignon Casks.

IJW? What’s That?

So, you might be wondering, what is IJW? Well, they are still a bit of a mystery, although slightly less so than when I first posted about their First Call Rye back in 2021. Still, I am not much wiser than I was back then. The IJW Whiskey Co remains quite secretive. However, we do know a few things. They have been stockpiling bourbon barrels for quite a few years now, and many are stored in a warehouse bordering Wilderness Trail Distillery’s property. There was talk for quite some time about opening a facility on Louisville’s Whiskey Row, but as far as I know, that has yet to materialize. Recent press releases have indicated that IJW will be building their own distilleries in both Shelbyville, KY and on the northern Japanese island of Hokkaido. They have broken ground in Shelbyville, so that one is underway. I have not heard any more news about the Hokkaido plant.

McFarlane’s Reserve 12 Year Bourbon Finished in Cabernet Sauvignon Casks

McFarlane’s Reserve 12 Year Bourbon Finished in Cabernet Sauvignon Casks is aged over 12 years and then finished an additional 9-12 months in Cabernet Sauvignon barrels from California’s central coast. According to Total Wine, who is the primary, if not the only, retailer for IJW’s whiskeys, this McFarlane’s Reserve 12 Year Bourbon is distilled in Tennessee. That makes it a bit unique within the line, because the other McFarlane’s whiskeys have been wheated bourbons. While the mash bill for this release is not given, it would be unusual for a 12+ year old Tennessee bourbon to use wheat instead of rye as a secondary grain.

Who Was McFarlane?

At this point, I am sure you are wondering about McFarlane, this bourbon’s namesake. Well, wonder no more. James McFarlane was a Major and veteran of the Revolutionary War. Unfortunately, he lost his life during the Whiskey Rebellion. On July 17, 1794, he led a group of 500-700 men who advanced on John Neville’s Home, Bower Hill. John Neville was a tax collector and aided the federal marshals in serving writs. During this skirmish, James McFarlane was fatally wounded.

Tasting Notes – McFarlane’s Reserve 12 Year Old Bourbon Finished In Cabernet Sauvignon Barrels Review

Let’s taste it:

🛏 Rested for 15 minutes in a Glencairn

👉🏻Nose: Vanilla, butterscotch, cedar. Mildly sweet with dark grapes, cherries and a bit of orange citrus; relatively mild alcohol
👉🏻Taste: Fairly light, with caramel, soft red wine, mild sweetness; tart orange citrus; deeper, darker red wine flavors later appear on the back of my tongue; there’s some dry oak, too
👉🏻Finish: Mild dry oak; black pepper spice becomes moderate and lingers with mild char and tannins; hints of cumin; long finish and quite a bit of body for the proof

A Nice Balance Of Flavors

McFarlane’s Reserve 12 Year Cabernet Finished Bourbon has a very nice balance of flavors. The Cabernet notes are present, but they blend very nicely with the flavors of the 12 year old bourbon, without overpowering it at all. The tart orange citrus is a bit of a quandary; however it provides a nice contrast to the bright fruit flavors of grapes, wine and cherries. Likewise, the spice in the finish, as well as some char, tannins and more tart citrus, provide a nice change of pace. Another nice touch is the full mouthfeel and body which are a bit unexpected at this proof point.

There is a flavor in the McFarlane’s Reserve 12 Bourbon that I was having difficulty identifying. But now, after learning of the Tennessee origins of this bourbon, I do recognize it. While this characteristic Tennessee flavor is definitely present, it is subtle, has mellowed with age, and nicely complements the Cabernet Sauvignon flavors.

Bottle and Bourbon Obsessed Glencairn - McFarlane's Reserve 12 Year Bourbon Finished in Cabernet Sauvignon Casks from IJW

Overall, the McFarlane’s Reserve 12 Year Bourbon is a very enjoyable whiskey. With the wine flavors being a bit more subtle than some of the other red wine finished bourbons that I have had, I think this bourbon would appeal to fans of finished and unfinished whiskeys alike. Have you tried McFarlane’s Reserve 12 Year Bourbon? What did you think? Cheers!🥃

We hope you have enjoyed our McFarlane’s Reserve 12 Year Cabernet Sauvignon Finished Bourbon review! Would you like to read about another McFarlane’s bourbon? Then check out our McFarlane’s Reserve 12 Year Cabernet Sauvignon Finished Bourbon review! Or maybe you would like to learn about a different IJW whiskey? Then you’ll want to read our First Call Kentucky Straight Rye Review!

Thanks, Tony of IJW Whiskey for the opportunity to give this bourbon a try!

Would you like to learn more about distilleries and bourbon? Are you planning a trip to Kentucky Distilleries? Maybe you would like to live the bourbon life vicariously through us?? If any of these are true, then check out today!

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