The last few weeks have been devoted to whisk(e)y almost in their entirety, so today I decided to go west and try something I used to drink in my youth; Bourbon. Now, that’s not to say that it’s a drink for someone younger, or you move onto Scotch and Whisk(e)y later in life, it’s more that Bourbon is much cheaper than Whisk(e)y in Australia, and you need money for important things. Like beer. And while I didn’t try this one while I was a wee lad, I’m glad I got to try it now. The Widow Jane 10 Year Old.
Widow Jane distillery was founded in 2012 by Daniel Prieto Preston, gaining its name from the water is uses, running from the Widow Jane Mines in Rosesdale New York; limestone mineral water which gives a unique taste and character. A single barrel bourbon, as each barrel and some bottles will be slightly different, this review was conducted with bottle number 88 of barrel 1788. The big question of course is; how does a seven year old distillery produce a ten year old bourbon? Well, it’s not that difficult, you just purchase spirit/young bourbon from a third party. It’s done all the time to make capital while waiting for your own spirit to mature, to put something on the market and make sure people know you’re up and coming. While it might get treated with derision by some, it’s a very common practise, and there really isn’t anything wrong with it. Which third party Widow Jane uses is undisclosed, as it is in most case, but the results are what we care about.
Whiffs of vanilla, caramel, chocolate ripple and marshmallow ice cream falling over honey, butterscotch and raisins. It rises up to bring a citrus side with oranges and passion fruit, but the sweetness is predominant, and really makes an excellent mark. I have missed a good bourbon. Toffee notes, fudge, sticky sugar and toffee apples all end the nose quite well balanced, but maybe a touch too much on the sugar.
A drop on the tongue goes a long way, the vanilla coming back but lovingly melted along side that fudge and the ice cream, smooth and silken caramel, wafers, maple syrup and oranges alongside some oxidising copper, it really is an interesting palate. It’s slightly puckering, which somewhat confuses the palate given the taste, but rolls into more vanilla pod and cherries quickly enough. The finish is long, drawn out, and plays brown sugar, orange oils, melted sugar bubbling away on a hot steel saucepan. Nice and tasty.
Rich, complex, intense, it ticks almost all of the boxes except for one; it’s quite unbalanced. Now that doesn’t mean its a bad dram, not at all. Everything by far makes up for that, except sometimes the palate and nose can get a bit confused and wander lost. All in all, I was really happy with the dram, and curious to see what Widow Jane might be putting out next, and its great to see the small time produces of bourbon really taking the time to craft something that feels cared for. Now, if I could just find an easy way of getting to Ireland, I’d be content.