We reviewed Murray Hill Club, one of three core whiskey expressions from Jos. A. Magnus Distillery, back in 2017. In 2018, the brand got an extension with a small Special Release line to showcase the exceptional blending and finishing abilities of Magnus’s Master Blender and long-time industry maven, Nancy Fraley. The first release, which we sadly missed, consisted of two batches that were finished for an unspecified amount of time in Pineau des Charentes casks from France. For their second Special Release the finishing casks have come from a little closer to home. Just across the Potomac, in fact, at Virginia Distillery Company. Cider barrels previously used to make that distillery’s well-received Cider Cask Finished Virginia-Highland Whisky were repurposed once again to finish (for 8 long months) Magnus’s blend of 10 to 20 year old bourbons. We heard good things about the first release, so let’s see how the sequel stacks up!
There’s a lot going on in this nose. It’s rich and layered with plenty of complexity from both the well-aged bourbon and the additional barrel aging. Dried apricot, bruleed sugar, butterscotch pudding, vanilla ice cream, and chocolate chip cookie form the core, but the finish has created slightly brighter top notes that flicker in and out of the aroma: sliced green apple, honeydew melon, and warm banana bread. The palate is bold and spicy with an early slug of dry oak and peppercorn. Into the mid-palate, sweetness develops with toffee and cinnamon taffy, a bit of sugar cookie, and baked apples. The proof isn’t overwhelming, but a little water helps to temper the spice while elevating more of the classic bourbon notes and the distinct apple pie influence of the finishing. Even diluted, there’s plenty of sawn lumber and old furniture in this one to remind you of the well-aged bourbons at its core. A refined and unique offering from the folks at Magnus.