Editor’s Note: These whiskeys were provided to us as review samples by Palm Bay International. 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 links in this article our site receives a small referral payment which helps to support, but not influence, our editorial and other costs.
In this age of craft distillers and high-end whiskey bars, being known as a “rectifier” is not something most whiskey brands aspire to. Otherwise known as non-distilling producers, rectifiers have a long history in Kentucky and elsewhere of buying other people’s whiskies and blending it – or, at times, mixing it with neutral-grain spirits, flavors or colors – to achieve a flavor profile all their own before putting it out on the market.
Quite a few labels source whiskey, of course, and they often blend it or finish it themselves. Most brands, though, don’t want to make that fact their calling card.
“My grandfather always called himself a rectifier,” says Marc Taub, the castle-builder behind Jacob’s Pardon. “We’re proud of that history, and excited to be connected to it.”
Taub is CEO at Palm Bay International, a family-owned wine and spirits import company based on Long Island. With Jacob’s Pardon, the family has gotten back into rectifying, too. It leverages at least one aspect of Palm Bay as a competitive advantage: Connections to a wide assortment of wine and spirits companies willing to provide casks for aging and finishing whiskies.
The Taub family also has connections to consultant F. Paul Pacult, who agreed to be master blender for Jacob’s Pardon. His first releases from the new label suggest a willingness to take chances, experiment and release whiskies you might not find anywhere else.
“We’re excited about where this can go,” Taub said. “We’re always going to be looking for something new.”
For its first batch, Jacob’s Pardon bought 56 barrels of 15-year-old light corn whiskey from Indiana – typically an indication it came from MGP Ingredients. The mash bill on all of them was 99% corn and 1% malted barley. Pacult fell in love with two of the barrels, numbered 23 and 37. They became the initial single-barrel releases from the brand, bottled at cask strength in very limited quantities.
The other 54 barrels were blended with nine sourced barrels of 8-year-old Tennessee sour mash to create Jacob’s Pardon Small Batch Recipe #1. That became the label’s flagship, and Pacult is already blending Recipe #2, expected by mid year 2021.
Look for more experimenting from Jacob’s Pardon down the road. The brand is named in honor of Jacob Taub, Marc’s great-uncle who received a presidential pardon from FDR for prohibition-related crimes. But Jacob’s brother Abner also received an FDR pardon for the same crimes, so a separate whiskey line for Abner seems likely at some point.
Jacob and Abner Taub also blended a whiskey they called Baltimore Club, so the possibility of reviving that nameplate by blending Maryland-made whiskies seems like another avenue. Then there are the barrels and casks Jacob’s Pardon can acquire through Palm Bay International. Jake Taub, Marc’s son, says they’re already looking at possibilities that include sherry casks from Spain, brandy barrels from France and Cabernet Sauvignon barrels from a family-owned vineyard in Napa Valley.
“We’re going to keep looking for great lots” of whiskey to buy, he says. “And we’re going to keep having fun.”
A Jacob’s Pardon American whiskey (image via Palm Bay International)
Tasting Notes: Jacob’s Pardon 15-Year-Old Single Barrel #23 American Whiskey
Vital stats: Mash bill of 99% corn and 1% malted barley; alcohol by volume 70.9%/141.8 proof; total of 169 bottles produced; $200 for a 750ml bottle.
Appearance: Light amber.
Nose: Buttery puff pastry, vanilla beans, brown sugar.
Palate: I know this is light corn whiskey, which is supposed to be easy-drinking. But make no mistake: This is almost 142 proof, and it lets you know. Cinnamon spice up front, followed by snickerdoodle cookies. A little bit of bitterness at the back of the throat, and a short finish.
Tasting Notes: Jacob’s Pardon 15-Year-Old Single Barrel #37 American Whiskey
Vital stats: Mash bill of 99% corn and 1% malted barley; alcohol by volume 69.75%/139.9 proof; total of 106 bottles produced; $200 for a 750ml bottle.
Appearance: Light amber.
Nose: Warmer and more bourbon-like than its sister (#23) whiskey. Brown sugar, vanilla and raw honey.
Palate: It doesn’t contain significantly less alcohol than the #23 whiskey, but it definitely tastes less boozy up front. It’s still spicy, though. Peppermint, followed by nutmeg and molasses.
Final Thoughts On The Single Barrels: These are a couple of the more interesting whiskies I’ve tried recently. Almost pure corn whiskey, 15 years in barrels and bottled at a proof approaching rocket fuel. You’re not likely to come across anything like them elsewhere. For me, these are too high proof to be everyday drinkers. They’re more of a novelty item. But oh, what interesting novelty items they are.
Tasting Notes: Jacob’s Pardon Small Batch American Whiskey Recipe #1
Vital Stats: Blend of two mash bills. The largest share (86%) comes from barrels of the 15-year-old light corn whiskey, with 99% corn and 1% malted barley. The remainder (14%) is an 8-year-old Tennessee sour mash whisky with a mash bill of 70% corn, 22% rye and 8% barley. Alcohol by volume of 48.6%/97.1 proof; total of 14,892 bottles released; $90 for a 750ml bottle.
Appearance: Light amber.
Nose: Very mellow, but there is a hint of the Tennessee sour mash in this blend. Vanilla-bean extract, bread pudding and butterscotch.
Palate: A little bit of spice initially, but fades to a very approachable and friendly whiskey. I taste almond cookies, browned butter and lightly toasted marshmallows. Goes down as easy as you’d expect from a blend that is mostly 15-year-old light corn whiskey.
Final thoughts: Pacult did a nice job with this blend. The almond flavor is strong and distinctive, which I appreciate. Overall, it’s an easy-sipping whiskey that puts me in a mood to sit in a big, comfy chair and watch a classic holiday movie. It’s friendly, warm, somehow familiar and not overly moody or complicated.
Reporting and writing has taken Scott Bernard Nelson all over the world, giving him an opportunity to cover everything from 9/11 to an Olympic Games to the invasion of Iraq. These days, he’s retired from daily journalism but still enjoys talking with interesting people and writing fun stories. When he’s...