Review – Jefferson’s Whisky
It’s hard to believe sometimes given their dominance today on the world stage, that the USA as a country is by international standards barely even out of diapers. Some would say this is evident in their foreign policy, but let’s not get into that. A big name in the formation of the USA is a chap named Thomas Jefferson, third president but crucially one of the ‘founding fathers’ and principal author of the declaration of independence. Less well known perhaps is the fact that he also repealed tax on whiskey, and hence the borrowing of his name for this range of whiskies. Jefferson’s very small batch is an update of the old ‘Jefferson’s Bourbon’ but with a higher percentage of older whiskies, although a minimum age statement is not given. A mash bill of 60% corn, 30% rye, and 10% malted barley is used. “Very Small Batch’ refers to the fact that they use just 8-12 barrels per batch for blending.
Jefferson’s Very Small Batch Bourbon
Nose: Relatively light, but still plenty of vanilla creme brûlée, corn and plenty of oak notes to give that characteristic bourbon aroma. Touches of orange juice, toffee, and even a whisper of creosote. Uncomplicated but pleasing.
Neat: Spicy oak is prominent from the outset and throughout. Otherwise the flavours are much more ‘closed’ than on the nose, leaving you hankering for more. Aside from the spice, this is relatively light in style, with vanilla fudge, a little orange zest, caramel and corn the most identifiable flavours.
Mixing: This is a little hit and miss in the cocktail department. The spice combined with an overall lightness makes it rather suitable for a quaffable Whiskey Sour, or an aromatic and refreshing Mint Julep. Both are easy-going and perfectly enjoyable; complexity is not what you’re looking for in these drinks. Where depth of flavour is desirable, such as in an Old Fashioned or Manhattan, this whiskey finds itself struggling a little. Neither are worth making the effort for, although the latter is more acceptable when made perfect (half sweet vermouth, half dry) on account of the added complexity offered on the wine front. In drinks where it is called to offer a partnering role such as in the Tom and Jerry alongside rum, Jefferson’s VSM ensures that its colleague is the star of the show. Combining with some fruit flavours such as in the signature Plum Sazerac (recipe below) works a treat, although this is a rare example of where going very easy indeed on the absinthe is called for.
Signature Cocktail – Plum Sazerac
40ml Jefferson’s Very Small Batch Bourbon, 10ml Absinthe, 4 Dash Peychaud’s Bitters, Barspoon sugar, Barspoon Plum Jam
Stir ingredients except absinthe with ice and strain into an absinthe-rinsed glass. Garnish with a lemon twist.
Jefferson’s Very Small Batch Bourbon is a decent middle-of-the road example of its type. A little short on depth of flavour, it mixes well in the right cocktails, but finds itself a little lacking in others.
★: Terrible, only drink for a dare.
★★: Meh, not undrinkable but best left alone.
★★★: Reasonable, middle of the road.
★★★★: Tasty stuff, well worth seeking out.
★★★★★: Incredible, booze doesn’t get better than this. You need a bottle in your life.