Earlier this week I reviewed Jefferson’s Bourbon Presidential Select 25 Year Old after receiving some tasting samples from Castle Brands in January. As part of that sample shipment I was lucky enough to also receive a sample of Presidential Select 30 Year Old. It’s not everyday you get to taste a 30-year-old bourbon and I’ve been pretty excited about cracking it open and diving in headfirst. Now that I’ve gotten the JPS 25 year Old review completed and posted it’s time to see if it’s older brother can deliver the goods.
But before we get into my official review we need to once again visit the official press release issued by Jefferson’s Bourbon about their newest Presidential Select releases:
Castle Brands is proud to introduce two new groundbreaking bourbons, Jefferson’s Presidential Select 25 Year Old Straight Bourbon Whiskey and Jefferson’s Presidential Select 30 Year Old Straight Bourbon Whiskey, the latest additions to its line of “Ridiculously Small Batch” whiskies and the Presidential Suite (Jefferson’s Bourbon, Jefferson’s Reserve, Jefferson’s Presidential Select and Jefferson’s Rye). Both bourbons are aged in new oak barrels and bottled at 94 proof (47% ABV). Inspired by its namesake Founding Father, these mature and exceptionally full-bodied aged bourbons were released nationally in November 2013.
“Keeping in line with our mantra, Very Uncommon Bourbon, we wanted to push the envelope and create bourbons with ages that the market hasn’t seen before,” says Jefferson’s founder and whiskey maker Trey Zoeller. “We’re excited to be able to offer U.S. consumers these unprecedented, craft whiskies that exceeded our expectations in terms of flavor and complexity.”
Applying the “Ridiculously Small Batch” process developed exclusively for his successful line of whiskies and ryes, Zoeller combed through barrels of aged whiskey in his library before settling on the right components for both bourbons. Jefferson’s Presidential Select 25 Year Old Straight Bourbon Whiskey has an amber to burnt orange hue with scents of caramel, maple and toffee. On the palate, upfront notes of soft honey and vanilla are followed by a rich, buttery mouth feel finishing with spice and leather. In contrast, Jefferson’s Presidential Select 30 Year Old Straight Bourbon Whiskey has a deep dark color with thick legs and rich scents of vanilla and butterscotch. It is surprisingly refreshing on the palate offering first a mix of sweet and spicy followed by caramel and finishing with notes of blackberry. Whether enjoyed in a classic Manhattan, on the rocks or neat, these offerings embody a presidential combination of age, purity and strength.
To learn more about Jefferson’s Bourbon, please visit www.jeffersonsbourbon.com. Jefferson’s Presidential Select 25 Year Old Straight Bourbon Whiskey ($199.99) and Jefferson’s Presidential Select 30 Year Old Straight Bourbon Whiskey ($249.99) is available for purchase at fine spirits retailers across the country, including Astor Wines & Spirits in New York City.
In addition to the general product release I was also provided with some additional information that included tasting notes:
The newest addition to the Jefferson’s line of “Ridiculously Small Batch” whiskies. This 94-proof, 30-year-old bourbon is bursting with vanilla with a long, spicy finish. Available in limited quantities, it is must-have for any discerning bourbon drinker.
Color: Deep, dark and rich
Nose: Rich vanilla with an upfront spice and underlying butterscotch
Body: Surprisingly refreshing with a mixture of sweet and spice. Caramel surfaces mid-palate and the finish finds hints of wood and blackberry.
Finish: Long with warming spice.
Update: The 94 proof reference in the press release materials is incorrect. The bottled proof that was released was 90.4.
I’m super curious to see how this stacks up against the Presidential Select 25 Year Old that we reviewed earlier this week. Let’s jump on in to the deep end of the bourbon pool and check it out.
JEFFERSON’S BOURBON PRESIDENTIAL SELECT 30 YEAR OLD REVIEW
Bourbon Name: Jefferson’s Presidential Select 30 Year Old
Age: 30 years
How I Drank It: Neat, in Glencairn whiskey glass.
My Nose Noticed:* Dark Fruit (Raisins & Figs) | Butterscotch | Cedar
First Sip: Sweet & Spicy Oak | Honey | Caramel | Burnt Orange
The Burn:** Similar to the burn observed in JPS 25, the burn of the 30 Year Old is simmering in nature and very stealthy. It takes a long while to build up and once again is a bit too shy for my personal liking. It has all the building blocks of a great burn but simply chooses to stay to far in the background to be recognized.
Neat, Splash or Rocks: I enjoyed this one neat to begin with and would have no problem drinking it neat every time. I added a bit of water and the nose immediately started to remind me of a pile of sawdust. Not a good thing but eventually some oily orange notes emerge saving me from wondering WTF just happened. Taste was smoothed out quite a bit with orange notes leading the charge. Pepper notes were muted as was much of the wood. Unfortunately, it also killed the flavor layering that I was digging while drinking it neat. With water isn’t bad but I think at the price you better stick to drinking neat and get your money’s worth.
Share With: When compared to JPS 21 and 25, this one has far more complexity and flavor notes which I really enjoyed. It’s a clear step up from both the 21 and 25 year releases, but still not on par with JPS 17/18 releases. I think experienced and mid-level bourbon drinkers would enjoy this one but due to the extreme price you might feel inclined only to share with someone you’re willing to take a bullet for. I think the price will probably result in a huge shift in human behavior as people try to figure out how to get a free glass out of their wealthier bourbon collecting friends. Overall it’s juice for many to enjoy even if only a select few can afford to track a bottle down.
Worth The Price: Retail prices have been spotted in the $250-$300 range with secondary market going much, much higher. As I’ve stated before, anything above $100 requires a lot of additional variables to get me to invest. I could do a lot of cool things with the money required to get a bottle of JPS 30 but based on my personal sampling, rarity of a drinkable 30-year-old bourbon and current market conditions I think you should definitely grab a bottle if you can find one and have plenty of disposable income.
Bottle, Bar or Bust: Putting price aside I would enjoy having a bottle of this on my bar. It’s a whopping 30 years old but doesn’t come across as that old in terms of oak and leather. The aroma is right in my sweet spot. While I think the taste could have been a little more complex it was pretty well-balanced and enjoyable. Once again there’s a lot of great bourbon out there to consider but this one has a lot going for it if you can get past the price. But let me be clear – This is not going to change your life, your religion or land you the love of your life.
*I like to let my bourbon sit in the glass for at least 5 minutes before I start to smell it or have a drink. I personally find that it’s better to let some of the alcohol waft off before diving in. If I’m drinking bourbon on the rocks I skip the waiting and dive in both feet first.
**Some of you refer to this as the “finish” but let’s be honest. Don’t we all just want to know if it burns good?
Let’s sum things:
- By far the best of the aged releases beyond the venerable JPS 17/18 releases
- Loved the nose even if it fell a bit short on the palette
- Noticeable improvement over the Presidential Select 21 Year Old release
- Still wanted a bit more out of the finish but it was smooth, silky and well-balanced
- $250 to $300 is more than many folks car payments. However, if you have the cash, access and interest you won’t be kicking yourself for adding a bottle or two to your collection
- Since I probably won’t part with the cash I am glad I can say I’ve tried it and wouldn’t pass up another opportunity to drink it again
Really want to hear from others who have tried the JPS 30 Year Old. Sound off in the comments and let me know as well if you’ve tried the JPS 25. I’ve known my taste buds for 42 years now but I’m open to a second opinion.