In preparation for National Bourbon Heritage Month this September, I’ve been drinking some bourbon. Anything for an excuse, right? Like last week’s Corner Creek Reserve, Jefferson’s doesn’t distill their own whiskey – they source from elsewhere, most likely Kentucky Bourbon Distillers, just like everybody else, and where KBD got the juice is anybody’s guess. Note that other Jefferson’s products, such as the Presidential Select line, were previously bottled from Stitzel-Weller stock (aka Pappy Van Winkle), so Jefferson’s certainly isn’t locked down to only buying product from KBD. That said, the fact that the Very Small Batch has a consistent mashbill tells me it’s all from the same distillery, whichever one it is. Ah what a tangled mess…
Update: The company that owns the Jefferson’s brand bought a distillery, and an estimated 25% of the aging barrels are from this distillery. See my review of Jefferson’s Reserve for details.
Also, what’s with the 41.15% ABV? I mean, what was wrong with 41%? It doesn’t even make a clever number when converted to proof: 82.3 proof. Woo-hoo.
Apparently the “very small batch” refers to the use of only a few (around 8) barrels per batch, which are blended together to achieve a target character. That means each batch will be somewhat different, although 8 barrels of sourced whiskey is probably enough to achieve some consistency. The Internet, in its infinite wisdom, has revealed to me that the mashbill is 60% corn, 30% rye, and 10% malted barley, and the whiskies used are aged for between 6 and 10 years. Verily, thou shalt not question the validity of information obtained from the Internet!
My bottle is #0245 from Batch 444.
Nose: Soft grains; fresh corn, with a sweet coconut-and-banana tone. Vanilla buttercream, with sugars verging on caramel. Very slight spiciness, more like cinnamon bun than the actual spice.
Palate: Medium-full body. Slightly hot. A bit of sugar cane appears, with its hint of vegetation, and an edge of charcoal. Oaky, with not as much sweetness as was promised on the aroma.
Finish: Medium-long. Some bitterness, oak tannin, and more charcoal. Fades with a bit of honey, like candy corn, and marzipan.
With Water: A few drops of water bring that green sugar cane note to the aroma, which becomes almost grassy. It also adds more vanilla but thins the palate. It’s a little less hot. This bourbon can handle a little water, but doesn’t need it.
Overall: A respectable, mid-range bourbon. There are more sweet notes promised to the nose than are delivered to the palate, but on the whole it’s well balanced and non-threatening. This would make a reasonable house bourbon (it’s slightly sweeter, slightly less vegetal, and slightly less complex than my usual go-to bourbon, Buffalo Trace, but I don’t like it quite as much as my new favorite Eagle Rare 10). It definitely makes tasty Old Fashioneds, which is what the rest of this bottle disappeared into.