DAVID JAMES STRAIGHT BOURBON WHISKEY
- DISTILLER: Undisclosed (TN). Bottled by David James Spirits at the Neeley Family Distillery in KY.
- MASH BILL: Undisclosed
- AGE: Aged 8 years and 10 months in American White Oak barrels. Lightly filtered. Mingled in Kentucky in a small batch of 25 barrels.
- YEAR: 2018
- PROOF: 111.2 Proof (55.6% ABV)
- MSRP: $75-100
- BUY ONLINE: Wine-Searcher.com
NOSE: Very short | Sweet tobacco | Peanut M&M's | Beef jerky
TASTE: Dark chocolate-covered cherries
FINISH: Sweet | Warm & long | Baseball peanuts and walnuts
SHARE WITH: A BBQ - these flavors would pair really well with the smoke and meat of a cookout.
WORTH THE PRICE: Because this is a craft whiskey, the price range I was able to find is all over the map. I think that at the bottom of the range that it is worth the price.
BOTTLE, BAR OR BUST: If you have ready access to this one, I'd try it at a bar first because of the price point. If you're unlikely to see more than one in the wild, pull the trigger if the cost suits your normal budget.
OVERALL: When I get a sample to review, I usually don't read the brand's tasting notes until I've sampled the product at least once. After my initial tasting, I was surprised by how aligned David James' and my own notes were - maybe the most I've agreed with anyone at any tasting, outside of Four Roses tasting like Juicy Fruit. On my second tasting, I wasn't able to pick up anything new or novel, but I think it's okay to be a one-trick pony if your one trick is good enough.
Overall this was a really pleasant sipper for me and I went through the sample quicker than I would have liked. Both the nose and the palate are much softer than the proof would suggest, with virtually no burn on either.
NOSE: Vanilla | Tobacco | Cocoa | Peanut Brittle
TASTE: Sweet Oak | Burnt Sugar | Chocolate
FINISH: Peanuts | Spice | Oak
SHARE WITH: A seasoned bourbon drinker will appreciate this one best.
WORTH THE PRICE: I wouldn't kick myself for paying $75 for a bottle but I think that price is pushing it a bit. That said, compared to some other sourced bourbons being released in the market these days, $75 isn't so bad after all.
BOTTLE, BAR OR BUST: Grab a bottle if you can get it at the lower end of the online price range. Try it at a bar if you have to pay more than $75 to get a bottle.
OVERALL: The nose on this one was a lot of fun. It was far more robust and complex than a lot of the source whiskeys that cross my desk these days. Obviously the age helps on that front but all too often what's available is less than great whiskey. Kudos to David James for getting their hands on some solid barrels.
I was also pleasantly surprised (assuming this is indeed from Dickel) that the typical vitamin heavy flavor that I get from a lot of sourced Dickel whiskey wasn't present in this bourbon.
My only critique (beyond the price of course) is that the finish turned a bit tannic on me at the end. If the sweet notes had remained at the front of the finish without the oak dropping in and ruining the party I would be searching for a full bottle for my bar. But, if you're not as sensitive to oak tannins you'll really enjoy this bourbon.
This full-bodied bourbon, influenced by the springs that gave birth to bourbon, has a dark mahogany body and light caramel edges. Its sweet-roasted start on the nose comes with a brief aroma of cigar and is followed by a hint of butterscotch taste with a deep dark chocolate body. The finish gives you a long, slight earthy taste of toasted walnuts that will have you savoring every sip.
NOSE: Sweet-roasted nose with a brief aroma of well aged cigar.
TASTE: Sweet hint of butterscotch followed by a deep dark chocolate that carries into the body with a toasted cherry wood
FINISH: Long, slight earthy finish of toasted walnuts.
Distilled in Tennessee and aged in both Tennessee and Kentucky climates. Aged 8 years and 10 months in American White Oak barrels. Lightly filtered. Mingled in Kentucky in a small batch of 25 barrels. Hand bottled in Kentucky.
DAVID JAMES STRAIGHT AMERICAN WHISKEY
- DISTILLER: Undisclosed (IN). Bottled by David James Spirits at the Neeley Family Distillery in KY.
- MASH BILL: Undisclosed
- AGE: Distilled in Indiana and aged 10 years in Southern Indiana and Northern Kentucky. Lightly filtered. Mingled in Kentucky in a small batch of 21 barrels.
- YEAR: 2018
- PROOF: 119.6 Proof (59.8% ABV)
- MSRP: $60-85
- BUY ONLINE: Wine-Searcher.com
NOSE: Rubbing alcohol | Oak | Honey | Weak Vanilla
TASTE: Sweet, toasted oak | Cinnamon joins the honey - Hot Tamales candies
FINISH: Simple | Oak | A little pineapple on the last couple sips if you've let it breathe
SHARE WITH: The judges of the San Francisco World Spirits Competition.
WORTH THE PRICE: Not to me.
BOTTLE, BAR OR BUST: Far be it from me to disagree with the San Francisco World Spirits Competition, where this bottle earned "Double Gold," and "Best Corn Whiskey," but this one is a Bust for me.
OVERALL: Again, the fine folks at David James Spirits nailed their tasting notes in my eyes, so what else can I tell you? This one just didn't give me anything to get excited about. The nose was much younger than its age, and the strongest thing it gave me was rubbing alcohol, no matter how long I let it breathe or how often I came back to it.
Like their bourbon, this offering from David James does not have the burn of 119.6-proof juice. That being said, the taste just doesn't say "10-year-old whiskey" to me, outside of the emphasis on the oak which is typical of an older American whiskey.
NOSE: Black Sharpie (albeit muted) | Watered Down Vanilla | Toasted Oak
TASTE: Vanilla Sugar Water | Wet Paper | Cinnamon
FINISH: Raw Cinnamon | Bitter Oak | Tannins (mouth drying)
SHARE WITH: People who enjoy recycling paper and cardboard.
WORTH THE PRICE: Not at all.
BOTTLE, BAR OR BUST: Bust. I'm not sure what the hell is going on with this whiskey but each sip left my mouth dry and in need of water.
OVERALL: The nose is funky enough to get me intrigued but after that it was all down hill. Hints of sweetness flipped to hot cinnamon spice that fell flat into what I can only describe as wet paper. (Please, no questions.)
The the finish delivered an amplification of hot raw cinnamon (no sweetness for miles) that was jumped in the alley by oak tannins that beat the crap out of any moisture left in my mouth.
Damnit. I keep trying it to see if I'm missing something and I keep having to grab a glass of water. I enjoyed the bourbon reviewed above but this one is a hot mess that you should avoid.
This small batch American whiskey has a golden amber body with sun-dried edges. Its sweet nose of vanilla and caramel take you back to your neighborhood candy shop and is followed by a medley of fruit flavors. The finish closes your journey with a subtle earthy oak taste that will have you savoring every sip.
NOSE: Sweet aromatics of vanilla and caramel.
TASTE:Sweet maple syrup, caramel and honey battling for dominance that quickly moves to a complex fruity tropical medley.
FINISH: Subtle earthy oak finish.
Distilled in Indiana and aged 10 years in Southern Indiana and Northern Kentucky. Lightly filtered. Mingled in Kentucky in a small batch of 21 barrels. Bottled in Kentucky.
DAVID JAMES SPIRITS DUAL REVIEW
David James Spirits, out of Kentucky, is seemingly in that awkward adolescent phase that a lot of craft distillers must go through. Their website touts a "Purity focused" product that is in the works and that they are excited to put out in roughly three years. During this waiting time, distillers must make a choice: do they bottle some of their own juice while it's young and maybe not up to their own standards, or do they outsource the aging to other distillers and bottle the work of someone else?David James Spirits chose the latter and both of the two samples I was able to taste were sourced from other distillers. They disclose that the whiskey in their American Whiskey is from Indiana and that their bourbon is from Tennessee. Seasoned whiskey detectives will probably make the same guesses as me and attribute them to MGP and Dickel respectively, as few other options exist in these areas.
While their website has all the trappings of a marketing-driven craft distillery - the page of bios with chummy nicknames, and with Instagram being the only way to get in touch with them - there are reasons to be excited about their future.
First, some of the blending they're doing already is strong. Furthermore, in addition to some of the more flowery language, their "What's Aging" page promises a well-aged, non-chill filtered spirit that has access to a prime aging location. For now, I recommend the bourbon they're bottling if it's within your price range and would encourage you to give their own stuff a chance when the time comes if you're in the mood to #drinkcurious.
Disclaimer: David James Spirits provided Bourbon & Banter with samples of their products for this review. We appreciate their willingness to allow us to review their products with no strings attached. Thank you.