Savage & Cooke by Dave Phinney

Jan 02, 2019

Savage & Cooke is a craft distillery owned by renowned winemaker Dave Phinney based on historic Mare Island in Northern California. The distillery focuses on small lots of exceptional brown spirits including Bourbon, Rye and American Whiskey. 

Mare Island is a very special place and Dave decided to locate the Savage & Cooke distillery on this island due to its rich and colorful history, striking architecture, central location and the ample space. The buildings Savage & Cooke occupy date back to 1864. The distillery area has undergone a tremendous renovation and now houses a state-of-the-art production space complete with a three-story Vendome copper still, expansive barrel room and breathtaking tasting room.

Dave seeks to influence every step along the way including growing his own grains, aging the spirits in his wine barrels and using spring water from his property in Alexander Valley for the titration of the spirits. There are currently over 100 acres of corn and rye planted in nearby Winters, California, including the heirloom varieties Bloody Butcher and Howling Mob, destined for future distillations. This is a remarkable and bold vision that will take years to develop and perfect.

The brown spirits offerings include The Burning Chair Bourbon, Second Glance American Whiskey and Lip Service Rye. These offerings are currently composed of sourced Whiskey that Dave has painstakingly procured lot by lot, barrel by barrel. All of the brown spirits are brought to the Savage & Cooke distillery for finishing in wine barrels, blending, titration and bottling.


Exciting and racy, this is not your father’s Whiskey. Packed with intensity and flavor, this five year old Kentucky Whiskey delivers. Each individual barrel was hand selected. The first impression is rich and bold with aromas of maple wood, cardamom, buttery toast and black cherries. Impressive intensity on the palate with a plethora of honey, caramel, hazelnut and baked dark fruits. The finish is layered and complex.

An array of sweet aromas leads the way to a palate that is lush, plush and simply delicious. Carefully selected four year old Bourbon barrels are the base of the blend. The water source is pure and completely unique hailing from Dave’s property in Alexander Valley.

Aromatically intriguing with brown sugar, caramel, butterscotch and toasty oak. The palate is smooth and lush with loads of vanilla bean, baking spices, maple and baked apples. The finish is long and exciting, begging for another sip.

Savage & Cooke also partners with families in other agricultural regions, such as Guanajuato, Mexico, for the product of Ayate Tequila. 

Hailing from the highlands of Jalisco, only the finest and most mature agave is used to craft Ayate Reposado and Ayate Anejo Tequila. Both expressions are finished in Dave’s Chardonnay barrels. Through mutual friends and connections in the wine industry, paths crossed and a partnership between the legendary Ramirez family and winemaker Dave Phinney of Napa Valley was formed to create Ayate.

The name Ayate refers to the cloak that Juan Diego wore when the Virgin Mary appeared to him to ask him to build a chapel on the hill of Tepeyac. This became known as the Guadalupe event and at the end of the story, an image of Guadalupe was imprinted on his Ayate. Dave has always had an affinity and a connection to Guadalupe and several auspicious ties exist to the tequila. It felt right to name our tequila project for this incredible story and moment in history.


Ayate consists of two very special and unique tequilas, a Reposado and an Añejo, which have been meticulously handcrafted and matured with a great deal of care. Each individual agave is selected by Rosendo Ramirez Senior who has been farming the fields for over 40 years. The piñas are then expertly extracted by jimadors that have worked with the family for decades. They are transported to the distillery, the core is removed and then they are precisely cut into four segments, which is a labor intensive and rare process. Roasting takes place in an autoclave with a proprietary process and the sweet juices are slowly coaxed out of the pinas and separated for fermentation. The distillation is done in a traditional copper pot still to emphasize and extrapolate
the most complex esters.

The Reposado is aged for four months in new American oak barrels followed by four months of finishing in Chardonnay barrels. The Añejo is aged for two months in new American barrels, then transferred to used French oak barrels for a resting period of four months and finally finished in Chardonnay barrels for six months. The tequila is cut with spring water sourced from the property. Bottling takes place by hand on site at Casa Ramirez. The custom bottle, designed by Dave, is produced in Mexico and hand painted with precious metals.


The agave fields are located in the highlands of Jalisco and the distillery is located in the state of Guanajuato in central Mexico. The production of Tequila is highly regulated and is only permitted in the state of Jalisco and select municipalities in Guanajuato, Michoacán, Nayarit and Tamaulipas. Casa Ramirez is one of only three tequila distilleries in the state. Our prime sourcing in the highlands is key to the quality and character of Ayate.

At an elevation of 7000 feet, the cool nights, warm days and dry conditions allow the agave to slowly and evenly mature producing piñas with great flavor. The soils are rich and fertile nourishing the young plants with vital vitamins and minerals. The agaves selected for Ayate range in age from six to eight years old.


Aromatically intense with notes of caramel, butterscotch, dried fruits and toasty oak. Impressive complexity with flavors of dark chocolate, toffee, butter and sweet spices. This distinctive Añejo has a velvety soft and silky texture, full body, extraordinary finish and is best enjoyed neat in a snifter.

Appealing and inviting aromas of lime, grapefruit, agave and fresh cut grass. Satisfying array of flavors including stone fruit, Meyer lemon, melon, ginger and vanilla bean. A balance of richness and freshness, this is a polished and pure Reposado best served on the rocks or in specialty cocktails.

Breakthru Beverage California South

6550 E. Washington Blvd
Los Angeles, CA 90040

Breakthru Beverage California North

912 Harbour Way South
Richmond, CA 94804