Guest Review - David Nicholson Reserve
Classification: Kentucky Straight Bourbon Whiskey
Mash Bill: I couldn’t find anything, however, it is a ‘high rye’
Price: c. £40
It's time for another guest review from honourary Gent - Aiden, and this time he breaks with tradition and reviews a bourbon rather than a rye. Let's see what he thought of David Nicholson Reserve...
The story goes that the David Nicholson brand started life in 1843 when a St Louis store owner, surprisingly named David Nicholson, sold his ‘43’ recipe whiskey from his store. Wind the clock forward 50 years and a couple of familiar names get involved, Julian ‘Pappy’ Van Winkle and W.L Weller start producing the ‘43’ brand at the A. Ph. Stitzel distillery. The Van Winkle’s held onto the brand until 2000 when it became owned by Luxco.
Well, that was an impressive roll call of names indeed! Don’t get too excited just yet though, this whiskey is a different mash bill entirely and uses a high amount of rye as the secondary grain, unlike its elder wheated brother that has allegedly been around since 1843. You’ll have to see the David Nicholson 1843 for that.
For this review Aiden drank it neat in a Glencairn glass.
Cards on the table, this review was conducted with the last 50ml from my own bottle (I saved the sample for review!) that I finished off a few months ago. I enjoyed the bottle a lot on first trying it, but as I got further down the bottle I didn’t get on with it as much as I had previously. What that was down to is anyone’s guess. Anyway, I’ve not had it for a while so I’m coming at this with no real expectations.
What Aiden got –Orange peel dominates immediately after pouring, with subtle rye spice coming through as I stick my nose right in the glass. Surprisingly easy to do for 100 proof but maybe that’s to do with being open for a while. Picking up other flavours as I keep nosing, apple and some very sweet notes before picking up oak and vanilla. I’d describe all of those flavours subtle apart from the orange peel, which really is ahead of everything else for me.
What they say he should get – Notes of honey and vanilla with smoky undertones.
What Aiden got – Very sweet before turning to a more bitter flavour of oak and subtle rye spice. Oak and bitterness on the back of the tongue very much eclipse the sweetness from the front. I really tried to pick up something more complex and be more descriptive but it was so bitter I struggled. Don’t get me wrong, it’s not completely unpleasant, just a bit more than I’d like.
What they say he should get – The woody, smoky tones you expect, followed by an exceptionally smooth finish with undertones of smoke and mild spice
What Aiden got – That bitterness lingers for what seems like an age. My son came in the room and had a conversation with me between drinks and it was still lingering after he was gone. Long sticky finish at the back of the mouth with some slight sweet notes returning after a while.
What they say he should get – No mention of a finish on the David Nicholson website.
Presentation wise it’s not like many bourbon bottles, in fact, this and it’s wheated brother look quite unique. As for the whiskey, a light amber in the glass, not as dark as some aged bourbon, but certainly not light. That makes sense, right?
The nose promised a lot, I’d call it complex just due to the number of varied flavours I picked out, however on getting down to business and tasting it… I feel like I banged on about the bitterness a lot, but it really did take over and made it difficult to pick anything out on the palate. On the finish, it left my tongue and the back of my mouth sticky and hung around forever, definitely not one of those whiskeys that you can drink and forget immediately. So there’s a definite quality there judging by the positives that I’ve mentioned, I’m just put off a little by the bitterness (there it is again!).
All said and done, it’s not a bad bourbon and the positives definitely outweigh the negative (I won’t mention it again) to the point that if it was in a bar I’d happily buy a drink. Buy another bottle? I don’t think I would.
6 out of 10
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