Review: Joseph Magnus Cigar Blend Bourbon (Batch 27)
We first reviewed Joseph Magnus Cigar Blend back in 2017. At that time, our sample was only the second release of what has since become the distillery’s most premium offering and a coveted, cult whiskey amongst bourbon lovers. In June, the distillery released six different batches of Cigar Blend, which was a bit unusual as they had typically trickled them out one at time throughout the years. Past releases were already a mature blend of 11- and 18-year-old bourbons (plus a bit of the standard Joseph Magnus Bourbon), but the latest batches reportedly comprise stocks between 12 and a whopping 20 years old. According to Master Blender Nancy Fraley, the new Cigar Blends have the greatest range of proofs and aroma profiles yet in the series.
Our pick of the litter was Batch 27, dubbed “Sweet One” by Nancy and finished in Armagnac cask #8 (for what that’s worth). It was the lowest proof of the bunch which should mean more of the Armagnac cask gets to shine through in the finishing. We were impressed with the earliest batches, so let’s see how this recent release compares.
The nose is still as sultry as ever with a rich blend of old, fancy library notes: worn leather, mahogany, old books, and a bit of sweet fireplace soot. Dried stone fruit, dark berries, and a table full of rich English desserts add a silky, elegant sweetness. If I could just inhale this whiskey, I would. The richness continues on the lush, syrupy palate which maintains an even, easy heat from beginning to end. Notes of golden raisins, vanilla custard, rum cake, and chocolate-covered toffee add ample sweetness which is tempered with tobacco, black tea, and a bit of licorice. There’s clearly well-aged bourbon in this blend, and the Armagnac influence is pronounced but still well-integrated with the whiskey. All of that unique barrel influence threatens, at various moments, to add some woody astringency, but every time it dissolves into an elegant blend of pie spice and sweet, aged oak. A beautiful whiskey, masterfully constructed.