Whiskey Review: Jos A. Magnus Murray Hill Special Release Batch #3 - The Whiskey Wash

Whiskey Review: Jos A. Magnus Murray Hill Special Release Batch #3

Editor’s Note: This whiskey was provided to us as a review sample by Oak & Eden. This in no way, per our editorial policies, influenced the final outcome of this review. It should also be noted that by clicking the buy link towards the bottom of this review our site receives a small referral payment which helps to support, but not influence, our editorial and other costs.

Jos A. Magnus & Co. is a relatively well known craft distillery out of the Washington D.C. area, highlighted primarily for finishing sourced whiskey in exotic barrels that once held sherry, cognac or armagnac. It is one of the projects as well that legendary master blender Nancy Fraley is involved in. Under this distillery exists, among other brands, the Murray Hill Club whiskey.

The whiskeys from the Joseph Magnus and Murray Hill expressions are all sourced and blended, and as the story goes, is in the style that Magnus himself had utilized over a hundred years ago. The original company and distillery began in Cincinnati, Ohio during Magnus’ lifetime and at the beginning of Prohibition had to be shuttered. In 2015, the brand is resurrected after the discovery of a bottle of Joseph Magnus Bourbon from over a hundred years previous.

According to the Washington City Paper, in 2007, Jimmy Turner found a bottle of bourbon in the closet while cleaning out his parents’ home after his mother died. The bottle was in fact a 100+ year-old bourbon passed down through generations. This discovery got Turner to learn more about his great-grandfather, Joseph A. Magnus. Magnus made bourbon, rye, whiskey, gin, and rum. This then led to more investigation, both in terms of family tree research and whiskey leads, to source some similar in flavor profile to this heirloom liquid treasure.

Now let’s take a quick look at the recent batches of the Murray Hill series. The very first batch was a blend of 18 and 11-year-old bourbon with 9-year-old light whiskey. Time for the second batch, it was essentially the same blend but with a finish in Pineau des Charentes casks. The Pineau des Charentes cask is from a French aperitif wine that has been fortified by Cognac.

Now for the basics on batch three. We have a blend of 10-20 year old bourbons that are finished in cider and malt casks. These casks have been through a lot to impart their unique flavors. At the very beginning, they were  “first filled at the Virginia cideries of Potter’s Craft Cider and Buskey Cider. The casks spent a further 8 to 12 months at Virginia Distillery Company as finishing casks for their 100% barley malt blend of Scottish and Virginia whiskies. As expected, the barrels possessed an abundance of single malt barley notes and still retained a fair amount of apple aromas, skin tannins, and residual yeast from the original cider fills.” The blended bourbons then finished for 8 months in these casks.

Tasting Notes: Magnus Murray Hill Special Release Batch #3

Vital Stats: 110 proof, 55% ABV and is a blend of 10-20 year old bourbons that are finished in cider and malt cask. ~ $300 per 750ml bottle.

Appearance: A burnt orange with a touch of an amber hue.

Nose: This is a big one that starts of on the astringent side. It took a while to figure out what was going on in the glass. After the initial hit of alcohol, the nose picks up nuances of a rich brown sugar and baked goods. To me, it seemed to resemble coffee cake.

Palate: First taste, wow, that’s a lot smoother than it smells. Definitely follows the big nose with a lot of body and flavor. Up front is a friendly hit of molasses with baking spices and mild acidity. The finish was long of wood and a touch of toffee.

The Takeaway

Summary

The whiskey was solid, but I wanted more considering the processes that went into the making thereof. The sourcing and blending of bourbons, the series of cask finishes, etc. But alas, it's a tricky and fickle thing, doing secondary barrel finishes. I wanted to love this one and experience all of the potential layers of flavor. I wouldn't say that I was necessarily disappointed, just not wowed.

On the plus side, forgetting all of the finishes, it's a tasty whiskey. Big flavors with classic bourbon notes and a long finish. Great for after a long days work. As long as you don't expect too much from the secondary finishes, I say check it out at the bar first and then make your own opinion.

3.5
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