Let’s head again as much as Wisconsin, we could?
When I first began my digital tour of the Midwestern craft distilling panorama, I used to be most impressed by the whiskies popping out of the northern neighbor to my house state of Illinois. Given the (generally not-so-) pleasant enmity between us and the cheeseheads, it pained me to have to offer prime marks to their whiskies. Nevertheless, the top quality of choices from the likes of 45th Parallel and Driftless Glen set them aside from the… “much less impressed” output of different craft distillers on this area.
Among the many bunch, J. Henry & Sons stood out as providing one thing totally different – given their deal with heirloom corn – relative to others. I favored my first style of their Small Batch bourbon, and an impulse buy of a 5 yr previous Patton Street retailer decide cemented my optimistic impression of the Henry household’s wares.
It’s been a protracted 4 years since my first style of J. Henry & Sons bourbon. My beloved Chicago Bears bested their Wisconsin rivals within the first assembly after my preliminary evaluate; Da Bears have misplaced in every of the following eight video games. The message is evident: I may help the Monsters of the Halfway by reviewing extra Wisconsin whiskey. With the hope of improved outcomes going ahead (aided by the departure of you-know-who), I’ll as soon as once more be contemplating a J. Henry & Sons bourbon at present.
I’m additionally preserving with my just lately rekindled curiosity in checking again in with craft distilleries subsequent to making an attempt their earlier choices. Although the prior J. Henry & Sons’ whiskeys I tasted by no means appeared to need for longer within the barrel, one can’t assist however get grasping. If 4 years is nice and 5 years is best, then eight years have to be one of the best, proper?
That’s the hope, not less than. Shortly, I’ll be tucking into an eight yr previous bourbon bottled beneath the household’s Patton Street Reserve label. What’s going to I be searching for, in evaluating this whiskey? Further taste improvement and complexity, in contrast with the five-year-old expressions I’ve beforehand tried. Reviewing my notes from the earlier bottles, I’ll expect that the youthful graininess of the Small Batch expression has subsided. I’ll additionally hope for a extra extended end than the five-year Patton Street Reserve retailer decide, which ended considerably abruptly.
There’s a balancing act to realize, nonetheless. An excessive amount of wooden affect may danger overwhelming the lighter notes of fruit and sweetness that I discovered so interesting in every of these aforementioned expressions. I’ll be on excessive alert for any acrid, tannic, extracted, astringent bitterness.
If it seems like I’m being demanding, I’m, and that is partly as a result of value. I can’t say firsthand, as this was a pattern generously despatched to me by Jacob. Nevertheless, he recollects that he paid $82 for his bottle, although he recollects that retail value on launch was $100. I’ll cut up the distinction (roughly) and use $90 as my foundation for analysis on Malt’s price-sensitive scoring framework.
As repeat readers will know, I’m delicate to the truth that craft distilleries – significantly ones wanting to make use of novel grains or different unconventional approaches to manufacturing – endure diseconomies of scale compared to their bigger, established opponents. Nevertheless, $90 is towards the upper finish of the worth vary for bourbon, whether or not we’re speaking about Kentucky or elsewhere. That’s why I’m laying out my strenuous standards prematurely.
Final specifics, earlier than I dive in: that is from barrel #227, coming to us at 119.5 proof (59.75% ABV).
J. Henry & Sons Patton Street Reserve 8 12 months – Assessment
Colour: Medium-dark golden orange.
On the nostril: Highly effective and dense aromas of cherries, stone, tarragon, menthol, roasted pork, almonds, and polished wooden. This leans right into a spiciness that, wanting again on my tasting notes from prior J. Henry whiskies, appears extra pronounced. In sure respects, this noses extra like a rye whiskey than a bourbon. That mentioned, I believe it nonetheless smells prefer it has sufficient physique to not be fully overwhelmed by the wooden. Let’s see if I’m appropriate?
Within the mouth: Certainly, the primary impression here’s a tart and fruity observe of cherries. I’m reminded of household street journeys to Door County, and stopping continuously at roadside farmstands for all method of cherry-derived goodies. This takes a spicy flip incorporating cinnamon and chili powder because the whiskey strikes into the middle of the mouth. There’s a really barely bitter woodiness at midpalate as a lone misstep, although this rapidly dissipates. The end begins with a creamy vanilla oakiness on the again of the tongue, which transitions regularly right into a extra stern mineralic observe of limestone. This leaves a delicate, elegant, and really nice aftertaste of cherries that lingers nicely past the ultimate sip.
I need to begin off by saying that this is excellent bourbon. Numerous notes, expressed with confidence; largely well-balanced all through the nostril and mouth. The additional time within the barrel does, certainly, appear to have dissipated the youthful corny notes whereas including further dimensions of fragrant and taste improvement, with a selected tilt towards extra spicy and savory notes.
Nevertheless, there are factors (significantly in the midst of the mouth) the place this feels unbalanced towards the barrel, with the bitterly woody notes detracting from what’s total a nice expertise.
Balancing the attributes versus the drawbacks, and contemplating the worth, I really feel like this deserved a rating a notch above the center of the vary, however not larger.
Don’t let this dissurade you from making an attempt J. Henry & Sons bourbons, although. They continue to be one of the vital attention-grabbing craft producers on the market, and you may entry their whiskey for a lot lower than this bottle value. As earlier than, I’ll proceed to be interested in the place time takes the Henry household, in addition to the remainder of the higher craft whiskey producers dotting the panorama.