Founded in 2012 in Red Hook, NY, the Widow Jane Distillery takes its name from the Widow Jane mines in Rosendale, NY, where it sources the limestone-rich water used in its operations. Producing a mix of award-winning sourced whiskies and in-house distilled spirits, Widow Jane are a true craft distillery, mashing and fermenting in 3,000 litre batches with heirloom and non-GMO grain twice a week, distilling in 1000 litre runs twice a day three times a week, barrelling in standard 53 gallon barrels before blending in 5 barrel batches, and bottling by hand. At present Widow Jane only have the equipment and capacity to fill 5 barrels a week at their distillery in Red Hook and so are currently in the planning stages for expanding the distillery. As part of this they are also distilling off site under the watchful eye of their President, Distiller, and Blender Lisa Wicker using their own grains, unique distillation protocol, and hope to repatriate all distillate to Brooklyn by 2023.
To date, Widow Jane have released a number of their own bourbons featuring a variety of heirloom grains such their Baby Jane Bourbon, Bloody butcher Bourbon, Wapsie Valley Bourbon, Chocolate Malt Bourbon, and Hopi Blue Bourbon releases. These bourbons are mostly exclusively available at the distillery and are released in limited quantities as ready. Alongside these, Widow Jane have also built a strong reputation for their sourced whiskies including their core product Widow Jane 10 y.o. Bourbon, aswell limited releases such as Widow Jane Decadence, Widow Jane 12 y.o. Bourbon, Widow Jane Lucky Thirteen Bourbon, and their very popular Widow Jane Vaults releases.
Widow Jane 10 y.o. is the flagship whiskey from its namesake distillery. Available as both a small-batch and single barrel offering, the whiskey inside is sourced from KY, TN, and IN, blended either into 5 barrel batches or drawn from a single barrel, proofed down with mineral water from the legendary ‘Widow Jane’ Rosendale Mines of NY, and bottled without chill filtration at 91 proof (45.5% ABV). Widow Jane put a lot of emphasis on the unique flavour-enhancing effects that proofing their bourbon down with Limestone mine water from the Widow Jane mines in Rosendale, New York, has on the whiskey and subsequently have made this their signature process for proofing down their whiskies. According to the brand, distillers typically use Limestone water in the early stages of whiskey production whereas WJ add it at the end to reach the optimal proof for their whiskies.
Today I’ll be taking a look at a single barrel expression of Widow Jane 10 y.o. which was released in the UK in 2019. This whiskey came from barrel #1788 and was proofed down to 91 proof.
Name: Widow Jane Aged 10 Years Single Barrel
Age: 10 y.o.
Proof: 91 proof (45.5% ABV)
Type: Straight bourbon
Producer: Sourced from an undisclosed distillery by Widow Jane, NY
Nose: The nose opens with caramel, vanilla, dried cherries, roast nuts, herbaceous charred oak and citrus. As you nose deeper the dark stone fruit notes become more pronounced and combine nicely with cacao powder notes from the barrels.
Palate: The palate opens thick with caramel, and faint powdered sugar sweetness followed by bright floral red and dark fruit, faint vanilla, cinnamon, and peppery rye which brings a herbaceous spice that eventually fades into notes of toasted nuts and tannic dark chocolate charred oak.
Finish: The finish opens with some lingering peppery spice and fruit-driven sweetness before becoming dry and herbaceous leading into the aftertaste.
Drinking this it’s easy to see why Widow Jane have won so many awards for their whiskies. It’s delicious and packed with all the trappings of a great sipping bourbon which drinks higher than its proof would suggest. It has sweet caramel, vanilla, and floral red fruit notes, balanced out perfectly by warm peppery rye, earthy baking spices, and charred oak notes. As it’s not chill filtered it’s also viscous which carries the flavours and makes for a very enjoyable drinking experience. Now I know that this is sourced by Widow Jane but they have not kept this a secret to my knowledge and it’s also worth mentioning that just because you’re sourcing bourbon doesn’t mean the whiskey is automatically good or that it will work at your proof point. Instead, this is where the hard work comes in and Widow Jane’s President, Distiller, and Blender Lisa Wicker’s skills really shine through. Not only does this bourbon taste good at its proof point but it outperforms by drinking closer to 100 proof without having any unpleasant spice or dominating flavours. All the parts fall into their designated spots as you journey from the sweet grain notes at the front to the yeast notes, the flavouring grain, and finally the barrel influence. It’s like a good story that flows from beginning to end without interruption or snags. Maybe it’s the water, more likely it’s the skill of the Widow Jane Team, but either way it’s a very enjoyable pour and I’m on the lookout for more.
Try or Buy?
This bourbon sits in a very precarious spot with a retail on both sides of the pond of around $70/£70. At this price it faces a long line of competition from brands that are both at a similar proof and a similar age. As such, I would suggest you try it before you buy it. I personally did and think that the cost for this particular single barrel is justified. If, however, you like what you hear and this sounds like it would appeal to you then buy a bottle- you won’t regret it.
Before you go…
Before you go…
Before you go…
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