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.

WOW10 – Evan Williams Honey Reserve Liqueur

After a recent trip to Distil 2011, DBS – along with a slightly random, but beautiful sapphire – brought me back a small vial of whiskey liqueur that he had been given by the Eau de Vie stand at the show. They represent the Heaven Hill brand, including such delights as Rittenhouse rye whiskey, and they also make the Heaven Williams Honey Liqueur. My trying of this particular variety seems to come at a time when the market for American whiskey liqueurs is increasing; I hear that even Jack Daniels are planning to enter into the foray. Previously, my exposure to this market has been with the likes of Southern Comfort, Wild Turkey Honey and Jim Beam’s Red Stag.

The first thing that I was intrigued by with Evan Williams Honey Reserve was the nose: my first swirl of the glass smelled sweetly of the orange fondant that you get in the midst of soft centre chocolates; by my second, I was intrigued to recognise the scent of liquorice allsorts – the round ones with a liquorice centre and coconut on the outside, (David “reliably” informed that the technical term for these is “Cat’s Eyes”). This second scent stuck with me throughout the tasting, although David didn’t find it so prevalent. As time passed, however, the fruity notes of lemon and orange became stronger, all the while softened by sweet honey.

Don’t let this sweet nose disarm you, though: when I took a sip, the liqueur slid over my tongue in a very syrupy fashion, before hitting me with a bout of very unexpected, strong alcohol. My tongue and throat tingled progressively as the liqueur found its way to my stomach and I was left, somewhat taken aback, but enjoying the glowing warmth left behind. I don’t think I can emphasise how little I anticipated how strong this would taste, but – nonetheless – I enjoyed it.

More prepared for my second sip, I managed to catch flavours of orange and those liquorice allsorts again (!); much like the alcohol, they seemed to start at the centre of my tongue and then rapidly expand outwards. The flavours themselves were all gone so quickly that I couldn’t distinguish any particular whiskey notes, but the warmth and sweetness were both delicious and definitely made me want to drink more.

Some people may get fed up of the sickly, sweet nose, but I thought that, especially when drinking neat, this liqueur seemed to be more about the sensation than the taste. But, if you have a sweet tooth and don’t mind a bit of strength behind your liqueur, this could be the honeyed whiskey liqueur for you.

– Mrs. B.

For other Whisk(e)y Liqueur Reviews, click here