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The reviewed sample is actually of the Jefferson's Presidential Select 18 YO, batch 31. The sample was given me by a friend. The length of time of the bottle open is unknown to me. Jefferson's Presidential Select bourbon is reported to be from distillate sourced from the Stitzel-Weller distillery, from which originated the original Pappy Van Winkle bourbons. The Stitzel-Weller distillery closed in 1991. This is a bourbon containing wheat in place of rye as the 'flavoring grain'
Nose: gorgeous hybrid wheat-oak flavours...wheat blends flavours with oak in a way which no other grain can do...the oak is pronounced but of high quality and thoroughly enjoyable. This is sweet, as high-pitched confectioner's sugar, not in any sort of cloying way. This is the third batch of Jefferson's Presidential Select I have sampled, but this is the first one I have sampled which smelled to me to be just like Pappy Van Winkle bourbon. This one does smell exactly like Pappy 15, beatifully so...and the degree of oak maturation does seem to fall between the quality of Pappy Van Winkle 15 and Pappy Van Winkle 20, to which its 18 years of age would attest
Taste: this smells just like Stizel-Weller Pappy Van Winkle 15, but it does not taste just like Stitzel-Weller Pappy Van Winkle 15. The oak is thick on the palate, but not tired. There is some bitterness in the oak, but not enough to bother me much. Some people would be significantly bothered by that degree of oak bitterness. Compared to a Van Winkle, the oak here would be more like a Pappy Van Winkle 23 YO. This is very enjoyable for those who have cultivated the Pappy habit, but I would not describe the JPS18 batch 31 palate as being as gentle or as refined as a good bottle of Pappy Van Winkle 15 or 20
Finish: sweet with a strong hint of bitterness which gets stronger into the finish, much like many batches of Pappy Van Winkle 23. The bitterness starts to get old by the death of the finish.
Balance: I will admit it, I have had something of a chip on my shoulder about Jefferson's Presidential Select Bourbon for as long as I have sampled it. This is the third batch I have sampled. I actively disliked the first one, whose batch number I do not now remember. The second batch, also numberless to me, I liked very much and it made me re-think my reaction to the first batch. This batch 31 I like overall a little less than the second batch I tried, but it is still quite enjoyable. My overall feeling remains that these batches, which were matured as sourced whiskies, are not as consistently good as is the Stitzel-Weller distillate which was sold as Pappy Van Winkle bourbon. I guess I felt that Jefferson's Presidential Select was sort of a Pappy imposter, and wondered whether this inferior matured juice would besmirch the good name of Stitzel-Weller. This is good bourbon, if you can enjoy a heavy oak presence, similar to Pappy Van Winkle 23 YO. Many cannot enjoy that heavy an oak influence in their whiskey. I have resisted several opportunities to buy a bottle of Jefferson's Presidential Select 17 or 18 YO, and so far have been happy that I did. But I am very happy to have a dram of this offered to me to drink from time to time.
For what it's worth, I am a very big fan of the Jefferson's Reserve Bourbon, which is a standard (rye-containing) bourbon