The following review is a guest post by Tim Brice of MixPourSip. Be sure to check out his site for great cocktail recipes, spirits tasting notes and bar reviews.
There is that one most special bottle you have (or would like to have) hidden at the back of your cabinet that only comes out for that handful of friends who would cherish it and only during those singular moments that require being frozen in time by a unique celebration. For me, that bottle is Jefferson’s Presidential Select 17 Year Old, 1991 expression. In short, this is a remarkable whiskey that will appeal to aficionados of quality bourbon but also to those who possess a love and knowledge of vintage single malts, particularly of Speyside single malts. This Jefferson comes from the now-closed Stitzel-Weller distillery and is borne of wheat and was distilled in the last year of the distillery’s operation.
On the nose, this Jefferson offers butterscotch and candy apple with hints of allspice and fresh thyme. The inviting aroma of Tarte Tatin mixed with old leather are very present and evocative. Adding a bit of clean water accentuates the thyme notes with the butter nose giving way to a more floral character.
In the dram, this is an exceedingly smooth bourbon that drinks like liquid velvet. Again, the Speyside comparison is highlighted by the vanilla and butter notes present at the tip and sides of the tongue. It comes in at a deceptive 94 proof which lays hidden until the finish where its presence becomes felt. The Jefferson’s Presidential Select also offers bits of rosemary, cedar and butterscotch taffy.
The aftertaste pleasantly lingers for a great while and, again, is very soft, warm and round. There is not a bit of harshness in this offering. The finish is so pleasant that it encourages patience to fully savor each sip before even considering the next. This is also a great bourbon to enjoy a more peppery cigar with the great deal of time to stop and enjoy both.
I cannot recommend this bourbon any more and think the $110 or so a bottle is completely appropriate. That said, there is very little of it out there. Master of Malt has some at the time of this writing as do certain outlets in the United States. [Ed. note: the original article was posted on Apr. 14, 2011.] They are also selling it by the dram (about 1.5 ounces) for about $11, if you want to give it a try. Get this now while you can. It has already been on the market for about 18 months so finding it will be a bit of a trick. If you do find it, please let me know.