Navigator Bourbon is a double cask aged Kentucky Straight Bourbon Whiskey. Each lot is aged in barrels of new American white oak for 3 years. After 3 years, the bourbon is then transferred to Navigator Cabernet Sauvignon wine barrels for an additional 90 days of aging. The brand is brainchild of vintner Trevor Sheehan who has spent more than a decade in the wine profession.
The company does not disclose where the bourbon is sourced from.
Bourbon Review: Navigator Bourbon
ABV: 43.3% (86.6 Proof)
Age: 3 Years (Bourbon Barrels), 90 Days (Wine Barrels)
Color: Dark Gold
Mash Bill: 74% Corn, 21% Rye, 4% Malted Barley
Bottled By: Navigator/Precision Spirts
Location: Rohnert Park, CA (USA)
The Nose: The wine barrel aging is obvious on the nose with some fruity components over a base of oak. There is a subtle banana that appears as the glass is put down. Secondary pulls from the glass reveals stone fruits and additional banana components.
The Taste: There is a strong rye aspect to the initial taste which is expected given the mashbill as well as an abundance of stone fruits. Subsequent sips see some tannins especially on the finish with hints of oak and tobacco.
The Pairing: We opted to pair Navigator with Alfonso a cigar from Nelson Alfonso due to his quote, “Cedar is to cigars as oak is too wine.” While most cigars are aged in cedar rooms, Alfonso is aged for 5 years in rooms of cedar and French oak. With French Oak used heavily in the wine industry we figured this could be the perfect pairing.
The Alfonso helps remove the tannins from each sip while bringing out more hearty oak notes from the bourbon. However the cigar which normally has notes of molasses, blackberries, honey and brown sugar loses a lot of its depth with the bourbon. Like the bourbon, the cigar takes on more woody notes which create a different type of depth.
We don’t let our pairings affect our final score, but if we did this one would gain a whopping 8 points because the cigar becomes interesting in a different light and it gives the bourbon more of a tradition feel.
The Conclusion: In 2022 we reviewed two offerings from Broken Barrel which aged bourbon and rye with staves from other types of barrels. My experience then was enough to swear off non-traditional bourbons. So how did we wind up with Navigator? It was a gift and this was a good thing. While the bourbon won’t ever be my go to, it is interesting enough to visit from time to time. The aging in Cabernet Sauvignon barrels didn’t flood the bourbon with what I consider to be unnatural flavors. Wine makers should stick to making wine but unfortunately I think this trend will stick around for a while.
Price: $39.99 (750 ml in New Hampshire)