Say A.H. Hirsch Reserve to any die hard bourbon lover and they will likely respond back to you with a look of glitter in their eyes. This highly sought after bourbon, once the subject of a book by whiskey writer Chuck Cowdery, is the stuff of legends among many, with what’s left of the 16-year-old expression pricing at near-Pappy Van Winkle levels. Now a new limited edition bourbon which has quietly surfaced out of Washington D.C. is looking to perhaps follow in the Hirsch footsteps, including getting an endorsement from the man who at one time owned the Hirsch brand.
The new J.A. Magnus Reserve Bourbon, which dropped just before Christmas at around $1,000 a bottle, is a 192 bottle run of a 92-proof, blended bourbon constructed from 16- and 18-year-old sourced bourbon “honey barrels” selected by Magnus master blender Nancy Fraley (the barrels’ origins are not disclosed, but a TTB database search reveals it is likely distilled in Indiana, so perhaps MGP? A Washington Post article also indicates their regular bourbon is as such). Fraley, who we profiled last year, is known for her expert skills in blending, and has been tied before to the Jos. A. Magnus & Co. distillery out of the nation’s capital.
As for the Hirsch tie in, Jos. A. Magnus & Co. turned to Henry Preiss for endorsement. Preiss, at one time, had the rights to the Hirsch brand, and was responsible for the “gold foil” release and the decanter bottling which followed. Hirsch is today essentially owned by Anchor, although it’s not “A.H. Hirsch” and is by no means the same juice.
How Magnus got Hirsch interested in putting his name on this release is a bit of a mystery, though he has also previously endorsed the distillery’s Murray Hill Club Whiskey. Preiss, in his comments on the J.A. Magnus Reserve, had this to say of it in a prepared statement:
“As the prior brand owner of A.H. Hirsch Bourbon a legendary American Bourbon, our friends at Jos. A. Magnus have created a whisky to behold and enjoy in the same way as A.H. Hirsch. Not only is the quality one of the best Bourbons I have sampled in recent times but the packaging is sure to make this special limited release an instant collectible. My only hope is that a bottle is reserved for myself before this sells out.”
Though this whiskey was initially available only at the distillery, there are a few bottles floating around retail right now. You’ll find limited official tasting notes below for your consideration. It is said as well that J.A. Magnus Reserve is a limited release series, likely meaning there will be more of them in the future.
Dark stone fruit, cherry, and citrus on the tongue and a long smooth finish of woodspice, caramel, vanilla, honeyed hay and tobacco.