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J. Henry & Sons Adds Cognac Cask Finished Bourbon To Mix

J. Henry & Sons is a craft distillery operation working out of a barn in rural Wisconsin. They produce their own five-year-old whiskeys, including their signature bourbon, mostly in house and have developed a bit of a following among those in the know because of their quality offerings. They are now pushing things one step further, recently releasing a small run of their first ever finished bourbon.

The new J. Henry & Sons Bellefontaine Reserve Bourbon, according to the distillery, begins as their signature bourbon, now aged in-house five and a half years. From this stock they choose what are described as barrels whose whiskey contents “exhibited sweeter, lighter, more toasty flavors and didn’t have the heavier char aroma. The Bourbon was lighter in color, had fewer tannins, and exhibited flavors of roasted nut and ripe fruit.”

J. Henry & Sons Bellefontaine Reserve Bourbon

These chosen barrels were dumped, blended and then re-barreled into ex-VSOP Cognac casks, where they were finished for another eight months. Once the bourbon was ready, the distillery applied a French blending technique called slow reduction to get them ready for bottling. In their own words:

With this process, the French distillers incrementally proof add water to their Cognac slowly, over time, to bring it down from barrel proof to bottling proof. We found that Slow Reduction created a rounder mouth feel while preserving the subtle aromatics of our Bourbon both before and during the finishing process. It also eliminated the creation of any off-flavors by proofing down too quickly.

The final product, now bottled at 103 proof, is available as a limited run of just 900 bottles. Though no specific price was given the whiskey seems to be dropping into retail between $80 and $90 a bottle. Official tasting notes for J. Henry & Sons Bellefontaine Reserve Bourbon are below from the distillery.

The initial nosing of the Bourbon offers toasted oak, browned butter, and cinnamon, reminiscent of French toast with cinnamon, butter, and maple syrup.  A second pass, that French toast is still present, but now the Cognac essence starts to come through, bringing fruity aromas of apple, along with oak aromas of vanilla and caramel, followed by a spicy, slightly smoky note of sandalwood incense and a tobacco or cigar box at the end.

The palate brings similar, toasted aromas (French toast and accompaniments) and spice (incense and cigar box), along with orchard fruits. The long, lovely finish is soft and warm and the cinnamon and fruitiness hold on the back of the tongue.

About the author

Nino Marchetti

As the founder of The Whiskey Wash, I'm crazy about whiskey, I can tell you, and I aim to share this passion with you through this site. As for my professional background, I’m a writer and journalist by trade and an Internet dot-com veteran prior to that. My most recent venture prior to this was as the founder and editor-in-chief of EarthTechling, a leading consumer focused green technology news website. I also have an extensive collection of whiskies from both start up distilleries and centuries old operations in Scotland alike, sprinkled with some other odds and ends from around the world, that have provided me with a unique picture of what’s going on with this wonderful spirit.