Tuesday, September 29, 2020

Jeppson's Blended Straight Bourbon


- $24
- 100 Proof
- 4 yrs.
- Illinois

Okay, so it took me a while to actually pull the trigger on buying this one.  And there's really no reason for it.  It's a locally distilled bourbon. It's aged at least 4 years.  It's 100 proof.  And it's only $24.  Under any other circumstance, I would have had this in my cart the first time I saw it. But every time I looked at that label, I just had a hard time making the decision to take a bottle home.

For those not in the know, Jeppson's is notorious in the Chicago area. Jeppson's Malort is sort of a gag drink, that shot that you buy your unsuspecting friend just so you can see the strained look on their face as they choke down the bitter liqueur.  And the label looks just like the label on the Jeppson's bourbon, conjuring up horrible memories every time I'd see it. But, in the end, it's not bask liquor, but actually bourbon. And it's not bourbon aged for 2 years and rushed into the bottle, but it actually got four years in the bottle.  And it's only $24. So I knew I eventually had to try it.

I screwed off the top and took a sniff straight from the bottle. Surprisingly, I found a lot I liked about the smell. It had a soft, nougat-like nose to it, along with some milk chocolate and brown sugar. There were also some bright notes as well, like fresh orange or even orange zest. Something citrusy, bitter and sweet all at once. However, at times those citrus notes leaned a little bit towards a cleaning solvent scent, which wasn't so great. 

As to flavor, it certainly had a touch of that young, corny taste. I got a hint of that overripe apple flavor that I always find in young, not-quite-ready whiskeys.  However, those young notes actually seemed to dissipate pretty quickly, making way for some pretty flavorful whiskey.

The first thing I noted was a graham cracker taste. It was crackery but also with a honey sweetness.  I did get that nougat note that I was getting from the nose, but the milk chocolate didn't seem to follow.  Instead what I got was a bready note, like white bread--sweet and yeasty.  

On the back end, it did have a somewhat spicy finish. It was almost like a milder version of cinnamon candy, like red hots. I wished it had a bit more heat. I also wished some of the flavor carried forward more through the finish. But, all I was left with was that sweet, mild cinnamon heat that left a bit more to be desired.

In the end, this is right where I'd expect a $24 whiskey from a small distillery to land. Actually, it was quite a bit better than I was expecting, even removing my bias due to the similarity of the label to that of the aforementioned Malort. I don't know that I'll be running out for another bottle any time soon, but this was well worth a try.

Grade: C+

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