You Can Thank Science for Paul Sutton’s Exceptional Bourbon

How a former oncologist recreated a century-old family sweet mash recipe

two expressions of Paul Sutton
The two expressions of Paul Sutton, including the new Heritage Collection
Paul Sutton

What we’re drinking: Paul Sutton Bourbon and Paul Sutton The Heritage Collection 

Where it’s from: Paul Sutton is a family-run and owned Kentucky bourbon brand utilizing a century-old bourbon recipe.

Why we’re drinking these: Besides some critical acclaim, Paul Sutton has something no other whiskey brand can claim: their CEO was previously an oncologist in New York. “I miss it, but I stepped out when I had my children,” says Myra Barginear, who spent more than 10 years at Mount Sinai and helped build the Dubin Breast Center ​​of The Tisch Cancer Institute.

However, the tug of the family legacy soon called. Seven generations of Barginear’s family made whiskey before her, starting with Hardy Sutton, born in 1791. A final “perfected” family recipe came about in 1916 by Barginear’s grandfather. But when he passed away, he took the whiskey’s mash bill recipe with him. 

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“We were left with mason jars of bourbon and barrels in the garden,” she says. Inspired, Barginear took a brief vacation to take a distilling class at the University of Kentucky and another at Moonshine University (which is a real thing). With the help from a few whiskey experts and some high-liquid chromatography — this is where a science background is helpful — she was able to reverse engineer and recreate the family’s mash recipe. Thanks to that tenacity, Barginear became the first woman to co-found and lead a solely owned and operated family-distilled spirits company.

So what sets Paul Sutton’s recipe apart? The use of Alabama corn and a sweet mash, aka each whiskey begins with fresh ingredients and no backset. Plus, they’re distilling this in small batches and barreling single bottles that are hand-labeled and numbered. 

So let’s test these century-old (but sort of new) whiskeys out. 

Paul Sutton CEO Myra Barginear sitting on a rock with a bottle and a glass of her bourbon
Paul Sutton CEO Myra Barginear, who helped recreate a century-old family recipe for her whiskey
Paul Sutton

How they taste:

  • Paul Sutton Bourbon is a bottled-in-bond (50% ABV) bourbon aged for six years. Barginear calls it a “table bourbon,” and it does sort of hit all the best parts of a greatest hits bourbon: vanilla, caramel, oak spice, a hint of burnt orange peel, a slightly oily mouthfeel and a wonderfully long finish.
  • Paul Sutton Heritage Collection is a limited release of barrels aged 7 years (for the family’s 7th generation) and bottled at cask strength. The oak is a little more present here, and given the higher proof, more heat is, too. A drop or two of water brings out some fruitier notes (I got berries and a little cherry).

Fun fact: The company uses a restored Land Rover for events. “My husband found that Land Rover in a Walmart parking lot,” Barginear says. “We completely restored it and custom-built it with an empty barrel in the back and a full bar. We’ve hosted huge parties and brought it down; it’s a great marketing tool and we have fun with it.”

Where to buy: You can find Paul Sutton at local retailers or at


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