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Jefferson's Reserve Bourbon

Respectful and Memorable

0 2095

@AboutChoiceReview by @AboutChoice

4th Oct 2010

0

  • Nose
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  • Taste
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  • Finish
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  • Balance
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  • Overall
    95

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Distribution of ratings for this: brand user

One of the fondest memories of a whiskey was born during the winter of 2009, while house-sitting in a beautiful, multi-decked a-frame, nestled serenely and privately in the woods. It was a cold night, a determined snow was falling, and on the deck within reach of the sumptuous hot tub, quietly sat man’s best friend … ready to serve at a beckoning glance. The bottle of Jefferson’s Reserve had warmed for itself an oval depression in the snow, revealing the depth of the snow on the deck, and prior to each sip, it happily allowed the snow to be whisked off its cork. This was such a perfect bourbon to play the part of the happy puppy that evening.

Meanwhile, back in Louisville, Kentucky, McLain & Kyne are busy distilling Jefferson’s Reserve (JR), its little brother just Jefferson’s, the Presidential Select and cousin, Sam Houston. JR is distilled from corn, malted barley and rye. And, what do all these have in common besides fine quality ? They are all created from a “very” small batch. I have recently gleaned that the term “small batch” could mean 200 to 300 barrels, but “very small batch” here, means 8 to 12 barrels of various ages. The bottle next to the tub was 172/2400 from batch 86.

Bottle Nose: Distinctive old wood (not piney), leather, tobacco, some vanilla and butterscotch, and a little soaked raisons. Quietly engaging, but deeply mature … no alcohol. Reminds me a little of the respectfulness of Bulleit bourbon, but even more so, and less wild.

Glass Nose: Similar to bottle, but more open and less focused … ever so slight alcohol, some glueyness and caramel. Still, there is the sense that a quality bourbon is coming. With water there is vanilla, caramel and a little more alcohol. I would go with the bottle nose for everyday sniffing!

Empty Glass Nose :) Butterscotch and tobacco desert … to die for … and wow, it is still there in the morning!

Palate: Deep, not too sweet, brown sugar, old wood (not piney, but maybe old oak cask, of course), pipe tobacco. This is very unique and hard to place … maybe a little cinnamon and toasted grain. No bitter, sour, hot or alcohol distracters ... just pleasant, admirable and easy to drink; this just seems like an important whiskey. With water, raisons are added to the mystery.

Finish: Medium to long, pleasantly warm, and dry … leaving a long lingering dry toasted leather experience in the mouth … easily for 20 minutes or more.

Conclusion: Rather than attempting to sweeten, excite or demand your attention in any way, Jefferson’s Reserve is deeply authoritative, mature, respectful and satisfying, perhaps as Thomas Jefferson himself might have been. I would add this, as the quiet and stately one, in the ultimate rank of Vintage 17 or Pappy Van Winkle 15.

Some descriptions place Jefferson’s Reserve at 15 years. It is readily apparent that Jefferson’s (non reserve) Bourbon (the little brother of 8 years), shares the same genes; but though it is lighter, it carries the same flavors, and is a delightful, pleasant and quiet drink … at about half the price (30 vs. 60 USD).

My score is 95/100, but I cannot imagine that any bourbon could be any better … only different.

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20 comments

@jeanluc
jeanluc commented

It's nice to read such a well rounded review of Jefferson's Reserve - I've long been an admirer of this Bourbon - but I've never owned a bottle.

9 years ago 0

@dbk
dbk commented

This sounds sublime. Added to the wishlist!

9 years ago 0

@OJK
OJK commented

Another great review and another bottle added to the wishlist!

9 years ago 0

JimRa commented

I was lucky to have a complimentary drink of this bourbon poured for me at a bar this past weekend. I liked it so much, I went out and got a bottle. I'd just finished up a bottle of Knob Creek, so I had room in my cabinet....

8 years ago 0

bobnoxy commented

Newbie here, and admittedly I don't have the palette for a real, in depth review worth reading. But I'm now on my second bottle of this and have gone through about 2/3rds of the most highly rated bourbons over the past couple of years, and this one is my favorite. I pour a shot and let it sit in the freezer for a couple of hours and sip it neat. Outstanding. Hard to imagine a better bourbon.

8 years ago 0

@AboutChoice
AboutChoice commented

@bobnoxy, thanks for the comment, and glad you enjoy Jeffs Reserve. The regular Jeffersons Bourbon (41%) isn't bad either, and at about half the price! Been reading about Thomas Jefferson himself ... what a facinating person in history !

8 years ago 0

Xdeth commented

This is a great bottle of whisky and real "small" batch. They had two in the store and I'm going back for the second one today. I may cry if it's been sold. There wouldn't be anyone you share this with that won't think it's terrific. I read the review above about putting it in the freezer before drinking, I would suggest filling a rocks glass with shaved ice until the glass is very cold (few minutes) dump all the ice/water out then pour and enjoy.

8 years ago 0

@Victor
Victor commented

@AboutChoice, has anybody figured out for sure at which distillery this bourbon was produced? I've loved the samples I have had of it, usually more than I've liked the Jefferson's 18 yo Presidential. I may have to buy a bottle of this soon.

7 years ago 0

@AboutChoice
AboutChoice commented

Hi @Victor, a good question, but I don't immediately know the answer. I'll try doing a bit of research. BTW, the Jefferson's 18 Presidential is problematic for me as well (batch no 4); it seems like it is a very different bourbon compared to the mainstream Jefferson's.

7 years ago 0

@dbk
dbk commented

As far as distillers go, "McLain & Kyne" are a fiction. The Jefferson's brand is owned by Kentucky Bourbon Distillers, who also own the Willett, Noah's Creek, Rowan's Mill, Vintage Bourbon, Johnny Drum (etc., etc.) brands. The owners of KBD are the Kulsveens, and Even Kulsveen is married into the Willett family. As for who distills the stuff, your guess is as good as anyone's.

You're right to have noticed the difference between the Jefferson's Reserve and the Jefferson's Presidential Select, @AboutChoice. The Presidential Select is one of the few KBD products that clearly advertises its origins: the juice is from the venerable Stitzel-Weller distillery. It's a wheater, and a rare one at that!

7 years ago 0

@AboutChoice
AboutChoice commented

Hi @dbk, thanks very much for again sharing your astute research with us ! There seems to be a good deal of smoke, mirrors and mystery regarding Kentucky Bourban Distillers. They offer a few winners, but I actually don't care much for my pricey bottle of Jefferson's Presential Select (batch 4). I wish I could share a sample with all of you for your opinion.

7 years ago 0

@dbk
dbk commented

@AboutChoice, you're not alone in your assessment of the Jefferson's Presidential Select, as it seems to be fairly divisive in the bourbon community. Some have found it too woody, whereas others have found it just right, like Goldilocks and her porridge. There has been quite a bit of variation from one batch to the next, unfortunately, which may account for the variability in enjoyment across tasters.

Maybe someday we'll all be in the same place to taste these whiskies together. A guy can dream, can't he?!

7 years ago 0

@Victor
Victor commented

@dbk, @AboutChoice, 'highly skeptical' is how I'd describe my attitude to Jefferson's 18 yo Presidential Select, despite it's having been distilled at Stitzel-Weller. The first few samples of it I had, I thought, "I--A--P!"....= It Ain't Pappy!...Stitzel-Weller, but It Ain't Pappy! It seemed like Van Winkle had sold the Pappy-reject barrels to McLain & Kyne to make it. Then later I had some that made me re-think it and see it in a better light. The sum total of all of those experiences is to remain a bit skeptical of it except for whatever sample of it I can immediately taste and verify to be good.

The Jefferson's Reserve, reviewed above, on the other hand, has only tasted great to me. I did recently buy a bottle of Jefferson's Reserve, but haven't opened it yet.

7 years ago 0

@SlowPuffs
SlowPuffs commented

These are the kinds of discussions that I find very interesting. At the same time, a bit disconcerting, especially being new to bourbons. I am so thankful that Jefferson's Reserve was among my initial try's. For me, it was a "home run". So I'd be tempted to try a different offering of Jefferson, but I am becoming aware that I should be careful and do some background reading first, especially in Alberta where not everything is available and temptation is great to "grab the bottle" because it is a Jefferson brand.

7 years ago 0

@Victor
Victor commented

@SlowPuffs, batch variations are a continual occupational hazard for the whisk(e)y drinker. One of the things I like best about Jim Murray's work is that he annually updates SOME of his observations about the (somewhat) recent batches of well-known whiskies. The whiskies do change from year to year. It is an unusual distiller or bottler who can keep the taste profiles very uniform for multiple years running. That is not only quite an art to do so, but also requires on-hand stocks of aged whiskies which will allow the possiblity of near-reproducing of the on-going flavour profile. In some years the available stock will not fully approximate the desired taste profiles for a brand.

And there is the occasional outlier bad bottle even in a good batch. Bad corks perhaps, or bottled too close to the tail of the run.

By all means learn all you can. I had to learn the hard way that some top quality whiskies may not survive the bottle open a year without going seriously down-hill in their flavours. Now I use gases routinely for preservation.

7 years ago 0

@AboutChoice
AboutChoice commented

@dbk, I prefer my porridge with a bit of sweet rum (perhaps Zaya) :-) Yes, we should a consider gathering for a convention :)

@SlowPuffs, you are correct to be cautious, especially with the "single batches", as @Victor suggests. The other "very small batch" Jefferson's (not "reserve") is also very nice, but just a bit thinner ... and at half the price; it's a good buy ! It holds it's own among the everyday sippers such as Buffalo Trace, Maker's Mark, Jim Beam Black and Bulleit.

7 years ago 0

@SlowPuffs
SlowPuffs commented

I thought I would add a tidbit. We hosted a gathering of friends last night. It was a great opportunity for a tasting of some of the bourbons I have gathered recently. I held back on the Jefferson Reserve until the last. It was a great hit. People were also impressed with Maker's 46 as well.

7 years ago 0

broadwayblue commented

I was just gifted a bottle of JR. It's batch 199. Hopefully this one is as lovely as the review and comments above.

5 years ago 0

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