Whiskey Review: Jefferson’s Reserve Old Rum Cask Finish


Jefferson’s Reserve Old Rum Cask Finish. Image by Carin Moonin, copyright The Whiskey Wash.

Although the solstice officially ushers winter in, here in Portland, Oregon, we’ve already had two snow and ice storms before December 21. While I welcome said solstice, because it means the days will only get longer, I’m also keen to escape to a warm, sunny beach and rummy drinks topped with umbrellas.

Thankfully, I got a hint—and a hit—of this while sampling Jefferson’s Reserve Old Rum Cask Finish.

We’ve discussed Jefferson’s Bourbon before. This non-distilling producer has been doing some really cool playing around with their bourbons and their various flavor profiles, such as Cabernet cask finishing, river boat aging or exposure to aging in different environments.

The idea for the old rum cask finish came from an experiment that founder Trey Zoeller attempted while imbibing with Malcolm Gosling, of Gosling’s Black Seal Rum. Zoeller topped some Jefferson’s Reserve with a splash of Gosling’s Old Rum—and thus begat a marriage between Kentucky and Bermuda.

Jefferson’s Reserve Old Rum Cask Finish is made from Kentucky straight bourbon aged for eight years, and then aged for an additional 15 months in Gosling’s Family Reserve Old Rum barrels that had held rum for 16 years. Got the math? Good. It’s 90.2 proof, and a bottle retails around $80.

I did wonder about this May-December partnership (Gosling’s rum has been around since 1857; Jefferson’s was founded in 1997). Would it be harmonious? Y’all meets “Aaaarrrrh” and ends with “Ahhhhh?” Or would it be more “ugh?”

Tasting Notes: Jefferson’s Reserve Old Rum Cask Finish

Appearance: Shiny toasted almond.

Nose: There’s no pepper or heat in the nose at all. It’s definitely got that sugary rummy quality. Caramelized sugar, butter, fresh crusty bread.

Palate: Flavor-forward at the start with marshmallow and fondant, but that dissipates fairly quickly. So very smooth. It tastes like drinking a very fine rum, and not a whiskey. Some may turn their noses up at this, but I don’t. It’s likely not a whiskey you’re going to make a drink out of—but at this price point, only spendthrifts would. But it’s certainly worth your time. The sweetness isn’t overpowering, and there is still that savory note the whiskey brings. It really is a nice mix between the chew of good bourbon and the delicacy of a not-too-sweet dessert wine.

Final Thoughts & Score/Buy A Bottle:

Score: 92/100

Buy NowThis is a keeper (and I’m thrilled I have a full-size bottle of this). It is bourbon that is different, and tastes like a really good bourbon. You don’t always get those two to match up. This is like a warm, edible blanket perfect for the winter months.

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