Is J.A. Magnus Reserve Bourbon The Next Legendary A.H. Hirsch Reserve?

.A. Magnus Reserve BourbonSay A.H. Hirsch Reserve to any die hard bourbon lover and they will likely respond back to you with a look of glitter in their eyes. This highly sought after bourbon, once the subject of a book by whiskey writer Chuck Cowdery, is the stuff of legends among many, with what’s left of the 16-year-old expression pricing at near-Pappy Van Winkle levels. Now a new limited edition bourbon which has quietly surfaced out of Washington D.C. is looking to perhaps follow in the Hirsch footsteps, including getting an endorsement from the man who at one time owned the Hirsch brand.

The new J.A. Magnus Reserve Bourbon, which dropped just before Christmas at around $1,000 a bottle, is a 192 bottle run of a 92-proof, blended bourbon constructed from 16- and 18-year-old sourced bourbon “honey barrels” selected by Magnus master blender Nancy Fraley (the barrels’ origins are not disclosed, but a TTB database search reveals it is likely distilled in Indiana, so perhaps MGP? A Washington Post article also indicates their regular bourbon is as such). Fraley, who we profiled last year, is known for her expert skills in blending, and has been tied before to the Jos. A. Magnus & Co. distillery out of the nation’s capital.

As for the Hirsch tie in, Jos. A. Magnus & Co. turned to Henry Preiss for endorsement. Preiss, at one time, had the rights to the Hirsch brand, and was responsible for the “gold foil” release and the decanter bottling which followed. Hirsch is today essentially owned by Anchor,  although it’s not “A.H. Hirsch” and is by no means the same juice.

How Magnus got Hirsch interested in putting his name on this release is a bit of a mystery, though he has also previously endorsed the distillery’s Murray Hill Club Whiskey. Preiss, in his comments on the J.A. Magnus Reserve, had this to say of it in a prepared statement:

“As the prior brand owner of A.H. Hirsch Bourbon a legendary American Bourbon, our friends at Jos. A. Magnus have created a whisky to behold and enjoy in the same way as A.H. Hirsch. Not only is the quality one of the best Bourbons I have sampled in recent times but the packaging is sure to make this special limited release an instant collectible. My only hope is that a bottle is reserved for myself before this sells out.”

Though this whiskey was initially available only at the distillery, there are a few bottles floating around retail right now. You’ll find limited official tasting notes below for your consideration. It is said as well that J.A. Magnus Reserve is a limited release series, likely meaning there will be more of them in the future.

Dark stone fruit, cherry, and citrus on the tongue and a long smooth finish of woodspice, caramel, vanilla, honeyed hay and tobacco. 

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.

  • T Long

    Good idea for a release to generate cult status. Keep ém coming. Maybe that will take price pressures off all the other bourbons.

  • John

    $1000 for NDP bourbon in a fancy box at a whopping 92 proof. This is modern bourbon gimmickry at its worst.