Before I continue with my Scotland tour posts (and the last Islay stop), time for a quick detour to review a bourbon. Yes! a bourbon! and why? Because I found one which I actually liked and got a sample from my good buddy Shai. (He was born in New York and bourbon is flowing in his veins).
So what do we have here? Before we go into the tasting notes here is what I know about it – Widow Jane is produced at Cacao Prieto artisan distillery (in Brooklyn of all places!) and is made with Pure Limestone Mineral Water from the Widow Jane Mine, Rosendale New York and is aged for 7 years in casks.
As this is a small distillery based in NY, it’s no wonder I never heard on it before – it’s not a big bourbon brand and seems to me that their main market is the tri state area, so if you didn’t hear on them before, you are excused.
So without further ado – the tasting notes:
Widow Jane Kentucky Bourbon 7yo (45.5%, $52 here)
Nose: Lots of wood polish, acetone/varnish, ripe pears, little vanilla, some sweet cough syrup.
Palate: Starts with a smooth sweet sensation, very silky, heavier sweet cough syrup notes, then it switch to mild bitterness along with those wood polish, acetone and some vanilla notes I so associate with bourbons.
Finish: Smooth and mildly sweet, lots of vanilla, again some varnish. the glass smells of Bazooka bubblegum mixed with bourbon.
Conclusion: As Scotch lover and without large exposure to bourbons, Widow Jane was a very nice pleasant surprise. I’m no expert on bourbon prices but $50 sounds like a decent price for a bourbon that whisky lovers can learn to like. So if you’re in the NY/NJ area, this is one bourbon you can easily pick at stores and enjoy it.
Ok, hopefully I’m not trolling here, but Widow Jane pisses me off. It says right on their website next to a beautiful photo of a copper still (http://widowjane.com/widowjane/): “Widow Jane Whiskey, distilled in the Red Hook neighborhood of Brooklyn.” It’s not distilled in Brooklyn. Cacao Prieto artisan distillery has not even been around seven years to have produced this whiskey. And as the title of this post points out, it’s KENTUCKY Bourbon.
What happens in New York? They water down the bourbon they bought in Kentucky with “pure limestone mineral water”. Actually the bottle used to say “Kentucky Bourbon” but looking at the above photo, maybe they’ve removed that? Read the description from Astor Wines: http://www.astorwines.com/SearchResultsSingle.aspx?search=27303 and notice the change in the label…
Companies acquire and bottle whiskey all the time and I have no problem with that. I love Willett, Pappy, Black Maple Hill – all sourced whiskies. But none of them work so hard to manipulate information. Or – as I would categorize their marketing materials – actively lie about the production methods.
Sorry, I don’t mean to be a hater. I actually find this stuff quite drinkable and agree with all the excellent tasting notes above. I’m also a fan of this blog, so I hope this isn’t taken as criticism. Maybe this beast just woke up on the wrong side of the cave today.
SmokyBeast – your comments are absolutely correct. However, they are using those beautiful copper stills to produce a variety of spirits including Bourbon. The Bourbon they are actually making themselves is very young. Early batches are aged in 20 Liter barrels (which produces a Bourbon that is young, hot, and harsh as well as being heavily oaked, IMHO). But they are learning. This 7 year old was quite nice, as you note (and Yoav gets right in the tasting notes in this review), but dishonestly marketed. They deserve all the trouble they’ve received for that. But I hope they outgrow this episode and fly right in the future. We’lll see.