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I've had a couple of these bottles now (the 2nd and 3rd editions) and have always been pleasantly surprised. This was a 'family' bottle purchased for our holiday in St Ives last week and mostly consumed by my brother and I. Whilst clearly gimmicky, the idea is to release batches of JD under the name of each distiller from Jack himself (no.1) up to the present day (I assume?). Fair enough. What's quite pleasing though is that I find these bottlings a definite step up from the Old No.7 and, as such, I have a couple more stashed away. So how will this one stand up?
From a snifter glass, neat and down to the last couple of pours.
Nose: Sweet, banana spirit, soft 'nutty' (Brazil, maybe?) oak, rose water, faint hint of glue. Some sour cherry and smoke/char notes. Some slight charred vanilla and a touch of cinnamon starts to emerge. Easy and light but very appealing.
Taste: Banana and cherry straight up then a very gentle warmth fills the mouth, going slightly dry but the sweeter side dominates. Strong cinnamon as it develops and that hint of glue persists.
Finish: Medium - it goes on longer than you might expect, actually. Your left with a sweet syrupy residue that balances very nicely with the dry spice notes and a little char flavour.
My brother had also brought a litre bottle of old No. 7 (which he pretty much polished off on his own - but that's another story! :) Compared to that this is just so much more appealing. It's not that it stands out hugely above the no.7 but it just has more spice/wood, less of a prickly nip and the flavours are simply more defined and rounded. My glass to compare was my first and last . . .
This is such a great summer bourbon and it is THE perfect accompaniment to a BBQ! It's easy to sip and the sweetness, which is nicely tempered by the spice but never overshadowed, keeps you coming back for more. It's well made stuff and goes down all too easy if you catch my drift! Apologies for a longer summary than usual but just want to add that I've seen many on-line reviewers say they don't really see much of a difference between this and no.7. Well, that's their view, but to me this is a good step up and, in the UK at least, is usually only a £1 or £2 more! Recommended.