The Jos. A. Magnus & Co distillery’s story began way back in 1892 when the original Joseph Magnus founded his own distillery in the nation’s capital, Washington D.C. Fast forward over 100 years and his great grandson, joined by a seasoned team of whiskey experts, revived the brand and began making their own history; and they were kind enough to send me over a bottle of their 7th batch to review.
Being that the reopened distillery is so young, the whiskey they’re currently bottling is sourced from MGP and is apparently 8 to 9 years old when they receive it. The bourbon is then triple cask finished in Pedro Ximinez sherry, Oloroso sherry, and Cognac casks before bottling at 100 Proof [50% ABV.] So despite being sourced, a whole lot of love has gone into getting this whiskey from point A to point B. So, how does it taste?
Nose: Spices and dried dark / red fruits from the sherry, a slight tobacco from the cognac, a slightly astringent herbal quality that I can’t quite put my finger on, almost a licorice or anisette. Very little traditional bourbon notes here outside of a bit of vanilla.
Taste: An immediate hit of cherry, some bitter chocolate, some sweet citrus [more tangerine than orange], it doesn’t have much of a tannic bite to it, and begins to finish off into cloves and peppery spices, more towards the cognac side than a traditional bourbon. There is so much depth of flavor from the finishing each drink reveals and hides different things. It’s really complex but never overpowering.
Finish: Slightly dry with the underlying dried fruits staying on, a bit of oak and smoke, it neither leans towards sweet or spicy. Despite the big bold flavours when it’s in your mouth, the finish is rather clean and understated. Which just makes you want to go back for more.
The Joseph Magnus bourbon is one of the more complex and layered whiskies I’ve had in a while. A triple cask finish is not something you see very often, but something the Jos. A. Magnus & Co. distillery seems to be perfecting. They’ve won Double Gold & Best Barrel Finished Bourbon at the San Francisco World Spirits Competition, a gold medal as well as Best in Class: Whiskey award from the American Distilling Institute, plus more and it’s easy to see why.
This is not a beginners bourbon, though it’s not unapproachable. Add to that a $75 – $100 price point and it’s a bit out of reach of the casual consumer, but that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t seek it out. If you want a top shelf whiskey that strays from tradition [while staying true to it’s historical roots], I highly recommend Joseph Magnus bourbon. I’m looking forward and closely at what the Jos. A. Magnus & Co. do in the coming years, their attention to detail in what they’re doing historically, in their finishing, packaging, and in the quality of their product have set the stage to potentially make them one of the sourcing to craft distilling Cinderella stories of the modern age.
You can visit the Jos. A. Magnus & Co. distillery from:
Wed. & Thu – 4:00 PM to Midnight
Friday – Noon to Midnight
Sat. & Sun. – 11:00 AM to 7:00 PM
2052 W. Virginia Avenue NE
Washington DC 20002