Thursday, May 20, 2021

Jefferson's Straight Rye Whiskey Finished in Cognac Casks

- $60
- 94 Proof
- Unknown Source

It has been a long time since Jefferson's released a rye. Their 10-year rye was discontinued quite some time ago, and I was lucky enough to find one on the secondary market just a few years back. It's been 5-6 years, though, at least, since a Jefferson's rye was release. So, when I saw the press release for this Cognac finished rye, I was certainly excited. I have a thing for Cognac and Armagnac finishes anyway, so this one seemed right up my alley.

My guy at my local shop, knowing I was looking forward to this one, was kind enough to set one aside for me. I will say, the price is certainly right on this.   So often lately these special or limited releases are asking $100+, and it's somewhat refreshing to see this one come in at a reasonable $60. I was a bit disappointed at the low proof, the lack of an age statement, and no identifying information on the bottle as to the source, but of course I can forgive all that if what's inside is good!

The nose on this one was very caramel forward. I went in expecting to get the sweet and fruity brandy notes, but the caramel notes of the rye really dominated.  I also got a light chocolate note to complement the caramel. It had some of the traditional rye notes, with a bit of woodiness and some pine. It also had a bit of orange to the aroma, as well as an almond note. The smell wasn't robust or anything, but what was there was very enticing.

On my first pour, my immediate impression was that this whiskey was light and watered down. It was watery in both texture and flavor, and my high hopes were immediately dashed. I expected the Cognac finish to impart a lot of flavor, and it seemed as though the flavor was all a bit muted.

I did get a warm pastry note right off the bat, along with a touch of cherry. The rye came through pretty well too, as I got a healthy dose of cinnamon. The Cognac was noticeable as well, and it came through as pear and even plum at times. That said, all these great notes came across as a bit muted.

There was also an initial bitter note that I got to, kind of like when you eat a bitter walnut. It had the sweet woodiness, but that bitter note just seemed to get in the way.  

I will say, however, that this whiskey got better with each pour. The more I tried it, the more I liked it, to the extent that I really loved my last few pours and wished it weren't gone. I don't know if it was just my frame of mind when I was first digging in or if giving it a bit of time actually helped.

By the final few pours it had developed this rich and almost creamy nougat flavor. With the chocolate notes that I was getting throughout, it reminded me a bit of a 3 Musketeers bar.  The cherry and cinnamon notes, although not prominent by any stretch, really complemented this flavor such that it made for a great combination of flavors toward the end.

Unfortunately, this one just did not live up to my hopes and expectations. Perhaps that's unfair of me to expect more flavor out of a lower proof whiskey, but given the finish, I really wanted that explosion of flavor that you get from so many other finished whiskeys. This one was just too subdued for me. While the price was great, the whiskey itself just didn't live up to what I was hoping it would be.

Grade: B-

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