Cocktails with J.W. Dant Special Reserve Bourbon

Recently, on our latest trip to The Whisky Exchange in Vinopolis, DTS reminded me that we had nearly run out of Bourbon. Somewhat alarmed, we immediately set out on a quest to find a new one to try and the bottle that we eventually picked up was J.W. Dant Bourbon. Currently made by Heaven Hill Distilleries, J.W. Dant was named after Joseph Washington Dant, a Kentucky distiller who lived back in the 19th Century*.

Whilst I couldn’t find out much more about the brand itself, the bottle tells me that it contains a “Bottled in Bond” spirit, which is a term relating to the U.S. act of that name, issued in 1897. The act was supposed to ensure authenticity and states that the spirit in question must be:
–  produced in one season, at one distillery, by one distiller;
–  aged in a federally bonded warehouse for at least four years;
–  bottled at 50% ABV (or 100 proof in the US); and must
–  identify the distillery and bottling location on the label.

To its credit, our bottle appears to have been emptied rather quickly; before the very last drop left the bottle, however, DTS suggested that I write some notes on it, so here we go.

On its own
I found myself rather fond of the nose, which was light, but lively, with soft, but nonetheless vibrant notes of caramel. There was also a freshness there, which reminded me of freshly homemade mint sauce. The caramel sweetness and softness returned at the end.
The taste was initially sweet and soft, with light wood, vanilla and caramel. These soft flavours were then gradually overtaken by a rapidly building, more savoury warmth that got to be quite powerful. This sensation of warmth really lasted in the very pit of the stomach; very pleasant, indeed.

Manhattan
Very herbal, indeed, with a fruity richness behind it; the vermouth is really allowed to dominate the drink. This reminds me very much of our Red Vermouth Tasting. The bourbon appears only as that substantial, characteristic warmth afterward.

Old Fashioned
A light, sweet nose of vanilla-laced wood notes and faint cherry. To sip, this was remarkably smooth and easy to drink, with a distinct sugary start quickly balanced out by a more dry, light wood finish. Some might consider it a little watered down compared to other Old Fashioneds, but I have to say, I thought it was perfect for a summer day.

In Conclusion
I really enjoyed this and found it to be a good and balanced standard Bourbon that I would be happy to purchase again. Whilst there was nothing outstanding about it, and it certainly didn’t shine through either of the cocktails that we tried this evening, it played an excellent supportive role in each of them, producing wonderfully smooth drinks with that lovely warmth building up afterward. Good value for money.

– Mrs. B.

Bottled at 40%ABV J.W. Dent Special Reserve is available for around £28 for 70cl  from Master of Malt and Arkwrights Wine & Whisky.

* A good article on Joseph Dant can be found here.

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