Saturday, September 23, 2017

Widow Jane 10 Year Straight Bourbon

- $70
- 91 Proof
- 10 Years
- Barrel #1398
- Region: Kentucky (bottled in New York)

Widow Jane was one of those bourbons I had only read about on social media and message boards. I knew very little other than that it existed and I had never seen it on the shelves in the Chicago area, at least until a few months ago when Binny's suddenly had three of their products sitting on the shelves.

Although a bit pricey, one of the options on the shelf was this 10 year old single barrel bourbon, and, with those qualities, I was certainly willing to give it a chance.

From what I understand, Widow Jane sources its bourbon from Kentucky, though the exact distiller is kept as something of a mystery. As they advertise, they then use "pure limestone mineral water from the Widow Jane Mine - Rosendale, NY" to proof the whiskey down. Not much more information than that is provided on the bottle's label.  In any event, it's at least worth a try to find out what difference, if any, New York limestone water can make to a 10 year Kentucky bourbon.

The nose is pleasant but soft, giving off some brown sugar and butter notes. It seems sweet, but not too sweet, and it certainly doesn't come across as pungent. There is almost no alcohol on the nose, which is good given the proof.

My initial impressions of this bourbon on the first pour or two was that it was kind of bland. Sure, it was easy to drink, but the flavors weren't very strong. What flavors were there were light cinnamon and brown sugar, with vanilla undertones. The flavor that I could find was very tasty, and there was something else that I just couldn't place my finger on.

After having the bottle open for a few weeks, this whiskey really opened up and all of a sudden seemed bursting with flavor. It sweetened up a bit, with a honey sweetness that seemed to also bring out the cinnamon and brown sugar notes. There was also a new and delicious chocolate now, and I was also able to figure out that the flavor I couldn't quite place was a kind of a plum flavor that I really enjoyed.

As I made my way through the last few pours, I also got a bit of bitterness, but a good kind of bitterness, the kind that you'd associate with a mix of coffee and dark chocolate. Again, these flavors seemed to complement the cinnamon and brown sugar that was found throughout.

At first I thought this bourbon was going to disappoint me. That first pour really was unimpressive. However, after letting it open up, even for just a short amount of time, I found myself really enjoying it! It developed a complexity that I didn't expect, and the varietal flavors all really worked well with one another to make for a very well-rounded bourbon.

Grade: A-

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