We first reviewed Jefferson’s Reserve seven long years ago, and it’s high time for a revisit. As far as we can tell from the packaging, this “Very Old, Very Small Batch” bourbon remains unchanged, but since the father and son owners, Chet and Trey Zoeller, have always been up front about the fact that they source whiskeys for their different products, there’s a good chance this one has been tweaked a bit over the years. It’s reportedly still a blend of only 8 to 12 barrels per batch from three unique recipes (sources unknown, but all use rye as the flavoring grain). At least some of those barrels are aged up to 20 years, but presumably not many of them given the respectable price point. It has been a while since we kicked the tires on Jefferson’s Reserve, so let’s dig in!
The nose is more balanced than we last remember, with plenty of familiar cinnamon but enough sawed oak and dry tobacco notes to keep it from coming across overly spicy. Elegant as ever. On the palate, it’s honeyed and sweet with an initial wave of brown sugar and baking spice. The heat is nicely dialed in, providing the coveted “Kentucky hug.” Things soften and evolve on the mid-palate with savory pastry and stone fruit notes, peach cobbler almost, and creamy vanilla custard. The generous finish is all chewy caramels and vanilla bean with just a bit of barrel char. It’s a great bourbon, drinking maybe even better than I remember, and at a fantastic price point.