Whiskey Review: Davidson Reserve Small Batch Tennessee Whiskey - The Whiskey Wash

Whiskey Review: Davidson Reserve Small Batch Tennessee Whiskey

Editor’s Note: This whiskey was provided to us as a review sample by Pennington. This in no way, per our editorial policies, influenced the final outcome of this review.

The Davidson Reserve Tennessee whiskey is the newest addition to the line of whiskeys bearing the Davidson name. This is kind of an exciting release, as it stands among famous and iconic whiskeys from the area such as the Jack Daniels and George Dickel brands. The use of locally sourced grains and distilling in Nashvill  makes this story even more appealing.

Davidson Reserve whiskeys are made by the Pennington Distilling Company, owned and operated by Jeff and Jenny Pennington, a local married couple. They first began operations in 2011 and of all things, decided to begin with a cream liqueur. But hey, why not? I love putting booze and coffee together. In any case, the liqueur is a success and the Pennington’s move on to other distilling adventures eventually landed upon whiskeys. Their first was a rye and it hit in the market in 2017. Following the rye was a four grain, a bourbon and finally the Tennessee whiskey.

“We certainly love all our whiskey,” said Jeff Pennington, founder and President of Pennington Distilling Co., in a prepared statement at the time his Tennessee whiskey was released, “but it’s hard not to view our Tennessee whiskey as something just a little extra special. While bourbon can be made anywhere in the United States, Tennessee Whiskey is limited to just our state. This is something particularly unique, and there are just a few current producers who make Tennessee whiskey. I’m so excited for people to try it!”

This is where we get into the details of Tennessee whiskey and what is known as the Lincoln County Process. As with bourbon, it has to be made with at least 51% corn and not distilled over 160 proof. However, the two big necessities are that the whiskey has to be put through charcoal filtering and of course, has to be done so in Tennessee. The philosophy of using the charcoal filter is that it is said to help mellow out the distillate before going into barrel.

Whether or not you believe the process makes the product less harsh is up to one’s palate. But it certainly does give Tennessee whiskey that signature flavor profile.

Davidson Reserve Tennessee Whiskey

Davidson Reserve Tennessee Whiskey (image via Kenji Mizumori/The Whiskey Wash)

Tasting Notes: Davidson Reserve Tennessee Whiskey

Vital Stats: 100 proof, 50% ABV, aged four years, mash bill of 70% corn, 25% rye, and 5% malt. Distilled in Nashville, Tennessee by Pennington Distilling Company.

Appearance: Reminiscent of maple syrup, a darker cherry wood, with medium body.

Nose: A bit boozy up front, but settles into more fruity notes. Think maraschino cherry with a hint of banana candy. Not in an unpleasant way, just a tad bit funky.

Palate: This one begins with that hit of caramelized sugars and eases into other flavors. Strangely picked up a hint of bubble gum, as well as oak, and that characteristic Tennessee whiskey flavor.

The Takeaway


I feel pretty good about this one and am certainly curious about their other whiskey releases, especially that four grain. The bubble gum notes were slightly weird at first, but I got used to it easily enough. It's good that this whiskey follows the previous ones, showing that the Penningtons have grown through their processes before coming out with a true Tennessee whiskey. I'd definitely drink this one again!

User Rating 3.8 (5 votes)
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