JW Dant Bottled in Bond vs. Ancient Age, Bottom Shelf Bourbon Brackets, Round 1

Round 1c of the Bottom Shelf Bourbon Brackets features Division 2, Number 1 seed JW Dant Bottled in Bond versus Number 4 seed Ancient Age. 

JW Dant Bottled in Bond. A bourbon that I’d looked past quite a bit. It’s not available at my usual store and it’s kind of tucked off to the side at my…well…other usual store. I knew ahead of time that it was Heaven Hill since I had seen some Dant labels on one of the tours I took there. I knew it was 100 proof and at least four years old because it’s bonded. Other than that though, I didn’t know much about this one before trying it. It is the highest proof bourbon in the competition and, as such, is the number 1 seed in Division 2.

Ancient Age is the one bourbon in the competition that I’ve had previously. I used to keep a bottle in the house as an “I don’t want to think about it” bourbon. It was the first bourbon to show me that cheap does not equal bad. It’s also one that I’d give to people who were interested in bourbon, but who were not aficionados. Not because they wouldn’t notice, but because most often they liked it better. It’s gentle and sweet. Being the youngest bourbon in the competition with a stated age of 3 years, it was the last selected and is the number four seed of Division 2.

JW Dant Bottled in Bond

Purchase Info: Blue Max, Burnsville, MN $14.99 for a 1L

Stated Age: NAS

ABV: 50%

Produced by: Heaven Hill

Nose: Very complex. This started off very vegetal. After is settles a bit: dark, ripe plums and cinnamon. After a further 20-30 minutes it transitioned again to a perfumy sweetness.

Mouth: Spicy, right on the tongue tip followed by brown sugar sweetness and a very slight vegetal sharpness. 

Finish: Sweet with only a slight burn. Transitions to a mouth-drying bitterness that makes you want another sip. Occasionally you’ll be visited by a floral perfuminess.

Thoughts: In the ranks of Heaven Hill Bottled in Bond bourbons that I’ve reviewed, this ranks  between the Evan Williams and the Old Heaven Hill. Much better than the Old Heaven Hill and slightly worse than the Evan Williams. 

Ancient Age

Purchase Info: Haskell’s Wine & Spirits, Burnsville, MN $11.99 for a 1L

Stated Age: 36 months 

ABV: 40%

Produced by: Buffalo Trace

Nose: Heavy dose of silage at first. Buried under it are cherry, mint and honey. 

Mouth: Thin and sweet with silage/grain flavors dominating.

Finish: Gentle cinnamon candy transitioning to a citrus pith style bitterness.

Thoughts: This is not complicated. This is thin. This is certainly not one you want if you are going to have another within a timeframe where you can compare them. But in spite of all of that, I tend to like the cinnamon sweetness and the gentleness of the finish. Which is unusual since I normally prefer a strong finish. If you do not like a gentle bourbon, this won't be for you.

Winner: There is no surprise here. JW Dant, the higher seed, moves ahead. Ancient Age is an ok “only bourbon of the night,” but it can’t handle being compared to anything. JW Dant Bottled in Bond might be one I could see having on the shelf as a decent, everyday bourbon. I look forward to seeing how it does in the next round.