For the dusty hunters out there in Internet Land, the story of how a man named Jimmy Turner stumbled upon a bottle of his great grandfather Joseph Magnus’ bourbon in his mother’s house in 2007 certainly has its charms. This admittedly remarkable find (at least he didn’t have to pay for it) of a bottle distilled by his great grand pappy, owner of Joseph Magnus & Co., est. 1895, not only must have had immense sentimental value for Turner and his family, but it seems that an entrepreneurial spirit, so to speak, was also discovered in the murky depths of that peculiar bottle. Turner went on to found Jos. A. Magnus & Co. distillery in 2015 and based his operation in Washington D.C.
Turner’s goal is to recreate that signature whiskey of old and present it anew. Where the story gets less interesting is how we get to where we are now with today’s look at the result of Tuner’s efforts: Joseph Magnus Straight Bourbon Whiskey**. In the Golden NDP Age we find ourselves in, it should come as a shock to almost no one that this enterprise would have to rely on sourced whiskey, at least for now. And even less shockingly shocking, a team of industry experts commissioned by Magnus & Co. selected 8-9 year old whiskey from everyone’s favorite ghost distillery: MGP of Indiana. But at least this ghost is perfectly visible to anyone looking, as Magnus & Co. seem to be up front about this. And to their credit, if you are going to source something, you might as well do something interesting to it while you’re at it.
Joseph Magnus Straight Bourbon Whiskey (see footnote) takes its sourced foundation and further finishes it in not 1 but 3 casks: oloroso sherry, PX sherry, and cognac. Bottled at 50% ABV, this so far presents a bottle that won’t be lacking in flavor, but as our country’s hometown spirit is typically not finished, the result has no guarantee of success. And let’s hope with an absolutely ridiculous $110 price tag that the best foot was put forward on this. Here goes….
Nose- Currant with brown sugar. Big caramel. Dark cacao with tobacco. Earthy cellar. Lots of dried fruit. Citrus. Boozy-ish.
Taste- Orange peel and chocolate. Brown sugar oatmeal. Dark cherry and tobacco. Wowzers. Great mouthfeel.
Finish- Light tobacco lingers with wood char. Quite full. Cognac heavy.
Comment- Crowd pleasing kind of stuff, as a finished bourbon can be at times. Seems to appeal to our guilty pleasures. Interesting flavors and plenty of merriment to go around on this one.
SWC Rating- 91/100
**Straight bourbon cannot be labeled as such if it is finished, according to my understanding of the law. They seem to get away with this by a kind of sleight of hand in stating that the foundation whisky is “straight” but then undergoes a finishing in additional casks, yet the label declares it “Straight Bourbon Whiskey” depending on how you order the words. Thus certain sites have called this a “straight bourbon” without addressing the discrepancy. Of course, you can legally do this finishing to a straight whiskey but my question is does it have be specified on the label? I think so, and the label here does not.