Welcome to a new addition to the blog called the Top Tipple Review. With these reviews I plan on reviewing all of the amazing once-in-a-lifetime samples or bottles that I’ve managed to get my hands on throughout the years. Many of the whiskies that will be featured will either be very far out of the typical bourbon drinker’s budget, very hard to find, no longer be available outside of auctions or personal collections, or a combination of these. I’ll probably never get a chance to try any of these whiskies again, and I cannot think of any better way to enjoy them than to share my experiences of them with my fellow bourbon folk! Sláinte – Paddy
Having already gained a proud reputation for their innovative and experimental approach when it comes to ageing and finishing their ‘ridiculously small batch’ bourbons, Jefferson’s are also very well known for the super-premium releases under their Presidential Select range. With previous expressions ranging in age from 17 to 30 years old these rare whiskies are always highly sought after and offer whiskey drinkers a chance to taste whiskies that have not previously been released. Therefore, it’s understandable that when Jefferson’s announced a new expression to be released under the Presidential Select label in late 2017 that the news was met with great excitement from bourbon lovers the world over.
The youngest expression released so far and at 16 years old, this expression features a bourbon that has undergone a unique ageing process according to those behind it. First aged for 11 years in a virgin charred cask, this whiskey was then dumped, re-barreled, and aged a further 5 years in new casks. Although not an entirely new concept, as far as I understand, this is the first time a re-barreled bourbon has been aged another 5 years after being re-barreling. In a press release Jefferson’s stated that this unique ageing resulted in a bourbon that “retains the bright notes found in a classic bourbon but adds a depth of flavor and complexity that can be gained only through long years of extra aging in new barrels.”
Name: Jefferson’s Presidential Select 16 Year Old Bourbon Twin Oak
Age: 16 years old
Proof: 94 Proof (47% ABV)
Type: Kentucky Straight Bourbon
Producer: Kentucky Artisan Distillers (Sourced from undisclosed KY distiller(y)ies)
Appearance: Ruddy amber
Nose: The nose opens with intense deep caramel, slight vanilla, baking spices, dried cherries, leather, smoky charred oak and faint roast peanuts.
Palate: The palate is complex and thick with notes of deep caramel, vanilla, herbaceous oak, dark fruits, hot baking spices, a touch of mint earthiness, and spicy toasted oak that dries the mouth slightly
Finish: The finish gives intense caramel and vanilla with a wave of earthy rye spice and an aftertaste of minty herbaceous oak that is most likely from the first barrel this was aged in.
This a great bourbon. It has all those characteristics you’d expect from a classic well-aged bourbon like George T Stagg but the lower ABV of 47%, when combined with the age, showcases its complex flavours really well. When I poured it initially I jumped straight in and found the nose and palate entirely dominated by toasted oak notes with a touch of deep caramel, however, when I left it for 5 minutes it rewarded my patience by opening up really nicely and giving a much more balanced nose and flavour throughout. It’s everything that you would expect from a 16 year old bourbon even down to a slight vegetal funk and dark fruit on the palate and aftertaste.
Having not tasted the bourbon before it went into the second barrel I have no exact idea of what ageing in a second barrel did for the quality of this bourbon. According to Jefferson’s, putting the bourbon into newly charred oak imparted more depth of flavour whilst further fine-tuning those already existing bourbon notes. The only time I thought I felt the influence of the second cask was in the intense caramel flavour and the spicy toasted oak present throughout this pour, but then again that could have come from the first cask being heavily charred. Either way if that’s what they had to do to make this bourbon taste this good and balanced then that’s what they had to do. I’ve long been a fan of the experimental approach Jefferson’s take when ageing and finishing their bourbons. This whiskey is certainly another fine addition to their already existing offerings. I’ve also never had the chance to try any of their other Presidential Select offerings so this is my first introduction to these ultra-premium bourbons, and so far consider me impressed!
Try or Buy? This is a tough one! At a recommended price of $200 retail this bourbon falls into the ‘you can never tell your wife how much you paid for this!’ category. That being said, I can’t see these gathering dust on shelves unless a liquor store owner decides to try add a hefty markup on the RRP. This is an amazing bourbon but it is important to remember that in this price range there are several very good options available so my recommendation would be to either try it before you commit, or be very sure that you want to pay the kind of money it would take to own a bottle. I’d absolutely love a bottle but know I wouldn’t be able to for that kind of money – but each to their own budget. For the money I’ll stick to my Cask Strength Jefferson’s Ocean aged!