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Bourbon Review: Jefferson's Presidential Select, 18 year old

Posted on by Eric Burke

Roughly a year ago, I was walking through one of my usual liquor stores. I was on a beer run. And, as I always do, instead of walking straight back toward the beer coolers I turned left and went to look at the bourbon. 

There is a tiny little shelf near the ceiling that holds four or five of the more expensive North American whiskies they have on hand. And I look up there every time I visit. I have to, it’s where I found (and passed on) various van Winkles back in 2011. It’s where I found out about the yumminess that was the 2009 Four Roses Mariage (still my favorite of the ones I’ve had). 

On this particular visit, I hadn’t planned to buy a hundred dollar bourbon. I hadn’t really even planned to look. I was stopping in for a six-pack of beer. My wife was with me. More at issue, my mother-in-law was with me. Randomly dropping a hundred bucks on something to put in my closet would get a raised eyebrow and a shrug from my wife, but it would get shock, confusion, questions about my sanity and wonder that her daughter ever let me out of the house unsupervised from my mother-in-law.

So, of course I looked. And up there, was one bottle of a bourbon that I knew was no longer being distributed. The writers were cautioning that if you saw it, and wanted it, to grab it because that was it. There would be no more. 

Well, crap. It was one I hadn’t tried yet and one I’d been meaning to. There was nothing for it. I had better grab it. And so I came into possession of a bottle of Jefferson’s Presidential Select 18 year old (Batch 14, bottle 1811). My wife, predictably raised her eyebrow and shrugged. As a lifelong drinker of Old Style beer, my mother-in-law was shocked that anyone would pay that much for any booze. And kept on being shocked for a while. 

So was it worth it? Sure, my mother-in-law is a funny lady and I’d pay a decent amount to set her off sometimes. But what about the bourbon?

Jefferson’s Presidential Select, 18 year old

Purchase Info: $99, Blue Max, Burnsville, MN (May 2013)

Nose: Sweet baked apples with brown sugar. Earthy, like freshly dug soil. 

Mouth: Nice syrupy mouthfeel. Warm on the first sip. Baking spices and sweetness at first, but transitions to a dry tannic woodiness.

Finish: Swallows gentle but develops a heat in your chest that lasts for minutes. Drys the mouth.

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Thoughts: I find this to be too woody. To me, it was aged too long. It’s too dry. I described it in a tweet shortly after opening it that it was like drinking woody honey. My opinion hasn’t changed. That said, my wife really likes it. Which doesn’t surprise me in the least. I’m not normally a fan of extra-aged whiskey. The bourbons I like best tend to be in the 10 year range. Whereas her favorite bourbon was 18 years old before it was discontinued in favor of 20, 21 and 22 year old varieties. So if you also like bourbon with a bit of wood on it, give this a shot if you happen across one of the few remaining bottles. I’m glad I did even if, for me, it was just meh.