It seems that spirits company Luxco, purveyors of that fine brown liquid in a plastic jug – Rebel Yell – that some of you might remember less-than-fondly from your college years, has woken up to the clarion chimes of bourbon demand (only five or six years late) and begun expanding their bourbon portfolio and even opening a new distillery. The Lux Row distillery in Bardstown, KY will begin its first spirit run in early January 2018 (so… like… now). Currently, Luxco’s brands (Ezra Brooks, Rebel Yell, David Nicholson, and Blood Oath) are sourced from multiple distilleries, including Heaven Hill. Production of these brands will move to the new distillery when it is operational.
The David Nicholson brand was previously distilled at Stitzel-Weller (don’t get excited, it hasn’t contained SW juice for decades) and the 1843 bottling – named after the year grocer David Nicholson began selling his own blend of bourbon at his store in St. Louis – is a wheater in the Stitzel-Weller tradition (corn mashbill flavored with wheat instead of rye). Bottled without an age statement at 100 proof (50% ABV), the 1843 is a Kentucky straight bourbon bottled by Luxco in St. Louis, MO… and that’s about all we know. You can find it in the $23 – $30 range.
The company also releases a “Reserve” 100 proof bottling which is actually a rye-flavored recipe. Review here.
Nose: Soft, reserved nose. May need a rest in the glass to open up. Corn-forward with some dry, dusty whole wheat bread. A stale spice of some kind — cardamom perhaps. Very shy for 100 proof. I was wrong – even a rest does not add interest to the aroma.
Palate: Medium-bodied. Sweet wheat, cakey and accompanied by cherry coulis. Pleasant, and not overly hot.
Finish: Short. A brief impression of mint, a reprise of tart cherry, and vanilla cake fading to faint oaky dryness. Not bitter.
With Water: Even a liberal splash of water does nothing for the nose, except add a weird rancid peanut-butter note. Water is not helpful with this one.
Overall: A reserved, uninteresting nose belies a very tasty if simple experience on the tongue. Hallmarks of the wheated style (softness, vanilla-sweetness) offer no surprises, but are markedly well-implemented for such a low price point. I think you’re basically getting a discount on a perfectly serviceable wheated bourbon because of the bland aroma.