I recently was directed to McScrooge’s in Knoxville as one of the finest liquor stores in the area and I have to say, they did not disappoint in providing a very large array of adult beverages. I saw brands I had not seen since leaving California three and a half years ago, varieties of familiar brands that I did not know existed, and quite a few brands with which I was not familiar at all. One of them was the subject of today’s spirit review: Jefferson’s Bourbon. Jefferson’s is a “Kentucky Straight Bourbon Whiskey” meaning that it is (1) made in Kentucky, (2) aged more than two years, and (3) has no coloring or flavor additives (contrary to some popular belief, Bourbon can be made outside the confines of Kentucky...in fact, it can be made anywhere in the United States). Jefferson is bottled in Louisville by McLain & Kyne and is marketed as a “Very Small Batch Bourbon.”
This “regular” Jefferson’s retailed for $30 and they do sell a couple other varieties at much steeper rates, a “Reserve” for about $60 and a “Presidential” for close to $100. The M&K Very Small Batch Bourbons marry together 8 to 12 barrels of Bourbon of various ages to produce what they feel is the best-tasting bourbon possible, while the norm for small batch is 200 to 300 barrels. The bottle of the regular Jefferson’s is very cool with an image of Thomas Jefferson printed on the back of the bottle in such a way that it shows through with a 3-D effect to the front.
The color of the Jefferson’s was a light amber. Poured into the glass, I got a heavy oak aroma with lighter notes of vanilla and corn. I took a sip and immediately noticed an orange flavor at the tip of my tongue with more of the oak notes at the back of my mouth and a light vanilla under it all. This seemed immediately to be a light-to-medium-bodied whiskey, almost Scotch-like in that way rather than the solid medium or medium-to-full body I normally associate with Bourbon. The lingering finish of vanilla, oak and corn, though, never let me forget that this was a member of the group I like to call “Kentucky’s finest export.”
I have noted before that most Bourbons will pair well with most cigars, but that was not the case with the Jefferson’s. I did try it with a couple medium-to-full bodied cigars and the liquor just did not stand a chance of holding up next to them. For this review, I decided to fall back on an old favorite in a newer size: the Four Kicks Seleccion No. 5 by Crowned Heads. Unlike some of the fuller bodied cigars, the Four Kicks allowed the sweet complexity of the Jefferson's to come through quite nicely. The cigar and whiskey never competed with each other for my palate's attention, indeed they complemented each other very nicely.
My final word on the Jefferson's: a lighter, more delicate Bourbon with a complex flavor that can be easily blown away by pairing it with a cigar that is too full of body or strength. Definitely worth the money, though, if you're careful what you pair it with.