A seventh-generation bourbon maker is releasing her first limited-release whiskey.
Myra Barginear comes from a family who has been making whiskey for more than 100 years, but she’s the first one to bottle it and sell it commercially. Her distillery, Paul Sutton Bourbon, is releasing its first limited release, allocated to only ten states, bottled at cask strength for a suggested retail price of $89
“The bourbon (is called) the ‘Heritage Collection’ after my daughter, Holland, whose first initial is an ‘H’, and for bourbon heritage month ,” says Barginear, who founded the company in 2013, releasing her first bourbon, which is bottled-in-bond and aged for six years, in 2020. “Our head distiller selected 25 of our best barrels aged seven years in honor of our seventh generation, which is my children.”
Barginear’s family has been making bourbon since at least 1916, but she’s the first one in her family to actually sell the bourbon legally. “My grandpa, Ronnie Sutton, made great bourbon,” she says.“He was an engineer, a tinkerer and perfectionist. He used a sweet mash process, not a sour mash process, and he barrel aged the whiskey. It wasn’t moonshine, it was whiskey, and he had a sophisticated operation for distilling and making bourbon whiskey.”
But though the mash recipe of their family’s bourbon had been in the family and tweaked and improved for more than a century, it almost was permanently lost. “When my grandfather passed away 15 years ago, he took his mash recipe with him,” says Barginear. “No one knew the exact mash recipe. It was as if your family had a chocolate cake recipe, for example, that everyone enjoyed at birthdays, baptisms and bar mitzvahs, but when you decided to make it, you realize you don’t have the exact recipe … did it have two cups of butter or three?”
Barginear, who had been an oncologist with a practice in New York, did just that. She and her family had samples of his bourbon, and she figured that there must be a scientific way to recreate the recipe, and she did just that. Barginear worked with Ferm-Solutions, and she flew to Kentucky with a mason jar of her grandfather’s bourbon.
“They reverse-engineered the bourbon, and analytical techniques gave us the exact mash recipe bill, and the yeast strain. People ask, ‘How do you really know that it’s your grandfather’s century-old mash bill?’” she says. “It’s science and like your DNA – it doesn’t lie.”
Once she had the mash recipe, she knew it was a good one so she decided to co-found Paul Sutton Bourbon with her husband.
“We feel like we’re just getting started,” she says.
Though her grandfather has been gone for several years, she still feels that he might be looking down upon her and her family, and she thinks he would be proud of his legacy, which she is sharing with the world. “I was very close to him,” she says. “He used to call me Magoo, after Mr. Magoo, because although I have a lot of hair now, I didn’t have any hair until I was two years old. I could hear him now, saying ‘You got this, Magoo.’”
For more information please visit https://paulsuttonbourbon.com/