There are a lot of obscure whiskey brands out there owned by companies like Luxco, better known to bourbon drinkers for its Blood Oath and Yellowstone associations. Another label under this company is David Nicholson, a historic expression with former ties to the Van Winkle family. The David Nicholson bourbon line is now getting a refresh of sorts, with new packaging and a new bottling added to the mix.
David Nicholson bourbon, as the story goes, was developed by one David Nicholson, a St. Louis grocer, back in 1843, and sold from his general store. Fast forward 50 years, to 1853. Julian “Pappy” Van Winkle, having joined WL Weller, gets involved with the Nicholson brand by distilling and bottling the original “43” recipe at A. Ph. Stitzel Distillery for St. Louis.
The brand is said to have subsequently remained in the Van Winkle family until 2000, when Luxco purchased it. Until recently, most of it has been sold in Missouri and Illnois, according to Luxco, so there is still a large bourbon-crazy market waiting to try it.
As to where the David Nicholson bourbons are being distilled today, that’s a mystery, as is often the case when non-distilling producers own these legacy brands. (Some say Heaven Hill.) We will, therefore, focus on what we do know. Joining the repackaged David Nicholson 1843 Kentucky Straight Bourbon is the new David Nicholson Reserve. This is an older, high-rye variant of the baseline Nicholson that’s been extra aged “for a more robust flavor and a full-bodied long finish.” It is bottled at 100 proof.
“David Nicholson 1843 is still made according to the original recipe and offers a smooth, wheated Kentucky Straight Bourbon Whiskey with hints of vanilla and oak,” said Fletcher Buchman, brand manager at Luxco, in a statement. “For David Nicholson Reserve, with the rye mash bill, we achieved a more complex, toasted rich flavor and a spicier bourbon.”
Luxco said the more basic Nicholson will price for up to $35 a bottle, while the Reserve, which will be available starting this month, will reach upwards of $40.
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Nino Kilgore-Marchetti is the founder and editor-in-chief of The Whiskey Wash, an award winning whiskey lifestyle website dedicated to informing and entertaining consumers about whisk(e)y on a global level. As a whisk(e)y journalist, expert and judge he has written about the subject extensively, been interviewed in various media outlets and...