Review: J.W. Dant Bourbon

4605-6544jwdantoubnboxFirst, for your consideration, a bit of history: Joseph Washington Dant was a well-known Kentucky distiller who in 1836 gained a reputation for making his whisky using a log still. For those not versed in the distillation arts, that’s essentially a hollowed out tree trunk with copper piping running through the center. The logs would then be filled with mash and steam would run through the copper pipe for the distilling process. Dant would go on to own a proper distillery some 40 years later, and generations of his family would continue to work in the industry. Eventually they would honor his legacy with a bottle bearing his name in the late ’50s. The brand would stay in the family name until Heaven Hill purchased it in 1993; the bottle has stayed in Heaven Hill’s core lineup since, though it is no longer made in a log. (No age statement is offered.)

And now the tasting: At first, Dant seems promising. A fresh, neat pour offers up traces of orange, spices, and a bit of smoke on the nose; ideal for cocktails for the forthcoming autumn season. The first sip and swish ease in with a bit of the usual suspects: vanilla, caramel, and oak, but then follow up with an absolute knockout punch of heat and alcohol which linger until the (somewhat) short, oaky finish. Nothing really changes much over the duration of a glass. It mellows with a bit of ice, but the song remains the same.

Overall it’s not an unpleasant experience, but definitely not a stand-up memorable tasting event either. It’s a bit like that very odd dating situation where things went fine and nothing went wrong, but considering the field is wide open and plenty of options remain available, a second date might happen only with a bit of reluctance. Heaven Hill would be well served in re-tooling the brand to compete on a pedigree with other big names like Stagg, Parker’s, and Booker’s. It’s the least it can do for a man who contributed much to the advancement of bourbon. He certainly deserves the consideration.

80 proof.


J.W. Dant Bourbon




Rob Theakston is a contributing editor to Drinkhacker.


  1. george on October 4, 2013 at 6:35 pm

    You might try the Bottled-in-Bond variety of Dant. I find it a very good bourbon flavor. Has to be at least 4 years old for the BIB version.

  2. Rob Theakston on October 6, 2013 at 1:28 pm

    I most certainly will keep an eye out for it. I’m based in KY, so it shouldn’t be too difficult to stumble upon. Perhaps that could be the start of the re-branding idea? Probably not..but nevertheless thanks for the tip!

  3. BOB D`HERDE on November 14, 2015 at 12:58 pm

    Where can I purchase a case of JW DANT Bottled in bond?

    • BOB D`HERDE on November 16, 2015 at 11:27 am

      where can I purchase a case of j w dant bottled in bond.

  4. Tyler on April 27, 2016 at 10:19 pm

    If you’re lucky enough to stumble upon bottles that say distilled and bottled at DSP-KY-31 and not distilled at dsp-ky-1 and bottled at dsp-ky-31 then the juice in them is pre-fire Heaven Hill juice.

  5. Heather on March 26, 2018 at 7:04 pm

    My husband and I recently found and old unopened bottle of J.W. Dant.
    J.W. Dant
    Genuine Sour Mash
    100 Proof
    Kentucky Straight Bourbon Whiskey
    Distilled and Bottled by The Dant Distillary Company
    Frankfort, KY & Louisville, KY
    Tax stamp is green and says Spring 1968 and Fall 1974
    Its a one quart bottle.

  6. T.G. Fisher on December 7, 2018 at 6:14 pm

    Back in the early 1960s I used to drink a lot of J,W, Dant10 year old. It was very common then, When did they stop aging it 10 years?

    • Christopher Null on December 7, 2018 at 6:18 pm

      Supply and demand — as the demand for bourbon has gone up, supplies have shrunk, and age statements have slowly disappeared as distilleries turn to younger stock…

  7. R.D.Dant on December 28, 2018 at 11:57 pm

    Joseph W. Dant was my GG Grandfather, he started it all w/”Stump” whiskey long before 1836. My Great-Grandfather was James W. Dant, HE developed the ‘sour mash’ process in 1836. The Dant’s & beams intermarried, so I am a direct decendent of both family’s. I’ve heard the history all my life & I do believe I know what i’m talking about.

    • Paul Davis on March 11, 2022 at 8:58 am

      Thanks for the info. You are a descendant of two great families. Mr great grandfather made White County white lightning between Cookeville and Sparta,TN.

  8. Lefty Olson on January 18, 2019 at 8:26 pm

    I have a sealed quart bottle J W Dant Special Reserve 100 proof 1972.. What can you tell me about it. Is it anything special? Thanks rdleftysatmsndotcom

  9. John W Dant, III on February 5, 2019 at 11:08 am

    it was bottled by Schenley in 1972. The special reserve was somewhat of a marketing play on the traditional BIB. robably can get some money for it since its vintage bourbon. if interested let me know.

  10. Katherine Bates on September 8, 2019 at 5:29 pm

    I have a half pint, unopened bottle of JW Dant Genuine Sour Mash Kentucky Straight Bourbon Whiskey. It is 86 proof. It belonged to my Dad and was given to him as a gift many years ago. My Mom recently found it while going through some of his things. The red tax stamp is numbered 444466019. Can anyone give me any information about it? I would really appreciate it.

  11. John Brown on September 29, 2019 at 11:05 am

    I first tried this many years ago when a fiend gave me a faith for Christmas.
    I found it to be an excellent sipping whiskey without the often bitter sharpness of Jack Danial’s.
    It has a stand a lone flavor that requires little accompanies other than the optional serving over the rocks.

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