Justin Spiehs is our guest blogger today with his David Nicholson 1843 Bourbon review. As with our other Help Wanted applicants we ask that you share your thoughts on his post in the comments.
Attach the names Van Winkle or Weller to a bourbon brand and a good story instantly begins. This one started in 1843 when grocer David Nicholson began distilling an original bourbon whiskey recipe at his St. Louis general store.
Fast-forward 50 years to when Julian “Pappy” Van Winkle and W.L. Weller become involved with the brand. The famous pair started producing “43” at the A. Ph. Stitzel distillery for the St Louis Market, and the Van Winkle family would continue to hold on to the brand until 2000 when it was acquired by Luxco. Double Gold distinction at the San Francisco World Spirits Competition followed in 2015.
My first encounter with this brand came late in 2015. My company was soon bringing the bourbon to our markets, so I decided it was time to explore the bottle of David Nicholson 1843 on my own shelf. Luxco’s unpretentious new packaging plus a suggested retail below thirty dollars made me curious to know if discriminating drinkers should add this to their selection of fine bourbons.
I drink a lot of my bourbon with water, so I first poured a couple fingers into a rocks glass. The even amber color did not suggest deep char or long aging, but certainly looked inviting. Its heady scent of wood with hints of char and soft vanilla was a strong enticement. My first drink was hot, reminding me that“43” is bottled at 100 proof. The second drink was much easier on my taste buds. A surprising amount of wood and smokiness filled my mouth and hung on for well over a minute. While I am not a connoisseur of cigars, I believe this bourbon would hold up well to some lighter styles. Adding a few drops of water settles the bourbon down and brings out the smoke and wood while cooling the heat.
The next night while relaxing at my favorite little establishment, I knew I had to try it in my Manhattan. With my very first sip I saw that ‘’43” gave itself supremely well to the cocktail. The smoke blended smoothly with the vermouth and the heat was subdued. As I finished my glass I knew that David Nicholson 1843 is a must drink on my bourbon list, and it should be on yours too. It is a 173-year-old story in the making that is well worth a re-telling.
DAVID NICHOLSON 1843 BOURBON REVIEW
Name: David Nicholson 1843 Straight Kentucky Bourbon Whiskey
Proof: 90 proof / 45% ABV
Age: NAS – No age statement
How I Drank It: Neat, splash and cocktail
Nose: Wood | Smoke/Char | Vanilla
Taste: Wood, baking spice, hints of vanilla and smoke. Plenty of heat, but water tones this down. In the Manhattan the smoke moves forward and the wood falls back. Blends very well with Cinzano sweet vermouth.
Finish: Long…wood and more wood. The woodiness seems to subside at about 1 minute but the smoke lingers with an unexpected touch of brininess. Nice warm feeling. As it moves down it settles down, but does remind you it is 100 proof.
Neat, Splash or Rocks: I enjoyed this bourbon most in a Manhattan. The vermouth helps settle the heat, reduce some of the woody notes, and adds a dimension with the smokiness that just isn’t there with other bourbons. Rocks would be second choice as it helps cool that wonderful heat.
Share With: Your Scotch drinking friends that need a change. The smokiness is familiar to them and the storied history of the names behind it is good to tell over a glass. Friends that enjoy cigars will find that this one will stand up nicely to a lighter smoke as well.
Worth The Price: All in the eye of the beholder… At your liquor store, if you can find one, the typical price is $200 a bottle and secondary markets have them going for $350 to $400. To me, if you can find one at your liquor store and love Elijah Craig and want a bourbon collection then get one. I have heard rumors that 23 years of aging will not be done again. However, for a bottle on the shelf I would have to say there are a lot of other bourbons out there to spend your money on.
Bottle, Bar or Bust: With a $29.99 shelf tag in my area, this bourbon won’t break the bank and will impress friends that are looking for a new dimension in their glasses.