A wheated bourbon from the old Stitzel-Weller distillery. A gentle, richly-textured whiskey, loaded with fruit and spice. Black raspberry jam, caramel apple, and papaya, along with warming cinnamon and subtle teaberry, on nutty toffee, nougat, and creamy vanilla. Spicy, polished oak finish. Superbly balanced, sophisticated, and very drinkable. An outstanding whiskey!
Unlike the standard “small batch” releases, this is from a single barrel: a really good single barrel. I rated the 18 year old small batch a 93 in the last issue, and I like this one even better. There’s less wood getting in the way. It’s softer, more elegant. Lovely fruit, gently sweet (black raspberry jam, blueberry pie), with nougat, creamy vanilla, a sprinkling of cinnamon, and polished leather on the finish. And so drinkable. Classic stuff!
Jefferson’s Presidential Select, 18 year old, Batch #27, 47%
Bourbon/Tennessee | $90.00
I’ve tasted several batches of this whiskey (made at the old Stitzel-Weller distillery), from the inaugural Batch #1 when it was a 17 year old, to this new release. It’s not surprising that they taste progressively older. My favorite is still the first batch, but this whiskey holds up nicely and shows a similar flavor profile with a bit more wood influence: blackberry jam, nutty toffee, nougat, creamy vanilla, cinnamon, and a touch of polished oak on the finish. Nice texture, too, with good viscosity and grip on the finish.
A follow up to the original Jefferson’s Ocean, 62 barrels of mature bourbon spent 5 months at sea. Can I detect any noticeable sea influence? Not really—perhaps a hint of brine—but it’s nice, pleasant bourbon nonetheless with nothing out of place. Well rounded notes of layered sweetness (caramel, vanilla, maple syrup and a hit of sweet corn), honeyed orchard fruit, and spiced with cinnamon and evergreen. Soft, soothing finish. Sourced whiskey.
Jefferson’s Presidential Select 30 year old, 45.2%
Bourbon/Tennessee | $250
A thick, heavyweight bourbon. Older doesn’t always taste older, and this 30 year old Jefferson’s tastes younger than its sibling 25 year old. The influence of 30 years in oak is evident with its polished leather, tobacco, and charred oak. However, there’s a surprising sweetness that props up the oak with maple syrup, blackberry jam, cinnamon roll, and vanilla cream. Very even-keeled. Yes, it tastes old, but with redeeming qualities. Dark and mysterious in personality.
The whiskey’s formula has been improved, and now consists of a higher percentage of older whiskies (into the high teens) than the original release (which I rated 81). Nicely balanced, with candied fruit, blackberry jam, soft vanilla, kettle corn, and a kiss of mint. Pleasant, unpretentious, and uncomplicated.
A 100% straight rye from Canada. This is curiously similar to (and more affordable than) WhistlePig rye, which is also a 100% rye, 10 year old Canadian whisky, but at a slightly higher 50% ABV. (Neither whiskey identifies its origin.) It oozes spice (mint, cinnamon, hint of nutmeg) balanced by layers of sweetness (honeyed vanilla, caramel), with nutty toffee emerging on the finish.
Whiffs of whole cloves quickly turn to cedar shavings, acetone, menthol horse liniment, corn syrup, and German rye bread. Brighter and fresher than other 100% ryes, but somehow a bit muddied with a grainy, earthy, wet-clay mealiness. Searing spices turn rye drinking into an extreme sport. Leather, peppermint, sweetish rye grain, and firewood gradually emerge. A blistering finish pulls like tannic black tea, while underlying rye grain notes drift along forever.
This Jefferson’s bourbon spent most of its life (almost four years) on a boat in the ocean. All that rocking and environmental conditioning has this whisky tasting four to five times its age. Yes, there’s plenty of resinous oak and leather, but there are also balancing notes of molasses, treacle, toffee, old demerara rum, and roasted nuts. A peppering of cinnamon, mint, tobacco, and maybe…yes, brine add intrigue.
Style: Kentucky straight bourbon whiskey Color: Amber Aroma: Clean, uncomplicated. Notes of caramel, teaberry, delicate candied fruit, and vanilla. Subtle notes of sweet corn and spice (mint). Palate: Well balanced. Similar to its aroma, but with more dry, spicy notes and less of the sweetness than the nose would suggest. Clean, pleasant finish.
What happens when 8 year old bourbon rests in a bourbon barrel-turned-rum barrel for 14 months? This is it. Muted caramel, vanilla, and spice meet salt, dried fruit, and almond extract, with a short cereal grain finish. An open mind will find this interesting. But for the traditionalist, this isn’t bourbon. I applaud the rum cask use, but this barrel appears not to be the perfect marriage for my glass.
Jefferson’s Presidential Select 25 year old, 45.2%
Bourbon/Tennessee | $200
Its age certainly shows, with a good dose of leather, tobacco, and barrel char. Sweet notes of caramel, toffee, and candied fruit try to rescue it, but ultimately fails toward the finish, leaving my mouth parched, leathery, and craving a glass of water (or a beer!). A bourbon with individuality, but it pains me to think what this could have been (or once was).