Resurrecting a long-retired whiskey label isn’t anything new. In fact, it’s pretty damn common. But resurrecting a long-retired whiskey label and emulating a 122-year old bottle’s flavor profile, that takes talent and skill. Enter Nancy Fraley and Magnus’ Murray Hill Club.
Pour: Murray Hill Club (b. 19)
Age: NAS (reportedly 9-yr light whiskey & 11-18-yr bourbon)
Nose: creme brûlée, sugar plum, woody spice
Taste: vanilla bean, dark fruit, hints of cedar & tobacco
Finish: moderately long – sweet oak char, toasted caramel, leather
Overall: An impressive, well-crafted whiskey. Murray Hill Club is the best blended bourbon I’ve tasted to date – one that sets a new precedent for American whiskey lacking a straight designation. Complex and graced with elegance, it’s a triumph for Magnus.
Whisky Jewbilee (2012-2018) was a semiannual whisky festival organized by J&J Spirits, formerly known as the Jewish Whisky Company. Each gathering showcased a commemorative release, one of the last being a 25-year light whiskey distilled by Seagram’s (IN) in 1993. L’Chaim!
Pour: Whisky Jewbilee Light Whiskey
Age: 25 years
Color: metallic amber
Nose: fruity vanilla, orange Tic-Tacs, zesty citrus & spice
Taste: strawberry cheesecake, lemon creme, buttery oak
Finish: moderate length – iced animal cookies, caramel glaze, peppery jam
Overall: Unique is a word commonly used in spirits reviews. Hell, I’m guilty. Yet, that’s precisely what we have here. 2018’s Whisky Jewbilee Light Whiskey is an epic display of unique, beautifully offbeat character – a wild, intricate, elegant thrill ride.
High West’s Bourye, a limited edition bourbon & rye whiskey blend, has been around since 2009. Over the years, the sources have varied, including runs with Four Roses and Barton, though MGP remains the sole source since 2016. Speaking of which, I have a 2016 release to review.
Pour: High West Bourye (2016)
Age: NAS (9-17 years per High West)
Color: rosy copper
Nose: caramel apple, blood orange, brown sugar
Taste: fruity vanilla bean, dark citrus-spice, boozy punch
Finish: moderate length – beautifully rich oak, cherry pie filling, herbal tea
Overall: Likely the best bourbon & rye blend I’ve tasted. An incredible whiskey – mature and complex with a remarkably oily mouthfeel for 92 proof (ah, the wonders of NCF). High West’s 2016 Bourye was apparently overlooked, and it’s your gain in 2021.
Rating: Worth the hunt.
Joseph Magnus Triple-Cask Finished Bourbon is the flagship expression of Jos. A. Magnus & Co., a DC-based brand resurrected by descendants of the historic Cincinnati whiskey wholesaler. The talented Nancy Fraley, master taster, is responsible for each blend. On deck, batch 96.
Pour: Joseph Magnus Triple-Cask Finished Bourbon no. 96
Age: NAS (reportedly 12 years)
Color: rosy amber
Nose: chocolate raisins, nutty vanilla, blood orange
Taste: toasted brown sugar, ripe plum, pipe tobacco
Finish: caramel-brandy, black walnut, lingering smoky leather
Overall: Delicious. For a finished whiskey, Joseph Magnus maintains enough bourbon character to brandish its 12-year (MGP) origin. Not “over-sherried,” and gentle on the cognac influence, it’s notably complex, harmonious and balanced. Well done, Nancy.
Rating: Fraley’s Comet.