As most whiskey-enthusiasts can attest there are many obscure offerings on the market regardless of the style of whiskey you drink. Sometimes these obscure brands are lemons that remain in obscurity for this very reason, however, other times you find a real hidden gem that’s been carefully kept under wraps and away from the hype machine that follows amazing pours. In my opinion, David Nicholson definitely falls into this category. As the story behind this brand goes, David Nicholson bourbon was the made and sold by the grocer David Nicholson in St. Louis back in 1843. Fast forward 70 years, and Julian Van Winkle (“Pappy” Van Winkle himself) gets directly involved in distilling and bottling the original “43” at the A. Ph. Stitzel Distillery for selling in the St. Louis Market, with the brand remaining with the Van Winkles until it was sold in 2000 to Luxco. In modern times, as with most legacy brands owned by Non-Distilling Producers (NDPs), this brand features sourced whiskey from an anonymous source rumoured to be Heaven Hill, and although this product was once aged stated at 7 y.o, the current product is non-age stated (N.A.S).
A closer look at the front label
Name: David Nicholson 1843 Kentucky Straight Bourbon
Age: NAS (originally 7 y.o)
Proof: 100 proof (50% Alcohol by Volume)
Type: Straight Bourbon
Mashbill: Undisclosed – at least 51% corn and contains wheat
Source: Unknown (KY Distillery)
Appearance: light gold
Nose: Notes of caramel, floral vanilla, earthy oak and alcohol. The nose opens up nicely as the alcohol dissipates and leaves the caramel, sweet vanilla, and earthy oaked wheat notes to flourish on the nose.
Palate: The palate follows with a thin but flavourful mouth-feel featuring a burst of floral vanilla, slight caramel and tropical fruits with oak spice and a slight mustiness coming from the back.
Finish: Spice combines with wheat sweetness and vanilla in a medium to long finish that leaves a beautifully sweet and complex aftertaste to chew on long after the pour is gone
Overall: This is a cracking wheater that’s worthy of the praise it’s received from winning a Double Gold award in 2015 and a Gold award in 2016 at the San Francisco World Spirits Competition. What I liked most about it is that the oak notes never once overpower or kill the other flavours, but instead provide a very well balanced pour. I’d highly recommend this range to drinkers who are looking for a brand with amazing value, flavour and very little hype (for now!). As for where it’s from, I’d have to agree with the masses on this one and say I definitely picked up some strong Heaven Hill vibes from this even before I read it’s the rumoured source.
Buy or try? For the price I’d definitely suggest buying this whiskey. If you like a wheater that’s affordable, tastes great, and has very little hype (meaning it’s more commonly available) then buying is definitely what I’d recommend.