For our first Bourbon Review, we decided to do a side-by-side comparison of Jefferson’s Reserve and Jefferson’s Reserve Groth Cask, which is Jefferson’s Reserve finished in a cabernet sauvignon cask.
A couple notes about the company: 1) I love Jefferson’s and think they’re a great company; 2) They don’t distill on-site; rather, they take casks from several other distillers and blend it to their liking. (This is actually a pretty common thing to do amongst bourbon companies, but few have mastered the art as Jefferson’s has.)
Both bottles are bottled at 45.1% ABV, giving them a 90.2 proof. Jefferson’s Reserve is a blend of four different bourbons that vary in ages, one they consider an “elder statesman”. The Groth Cask is 6 year aged Reserve finished in casks from Groth Vineyard & Winery.
THE TASTING: We tried them both neat in rocks glasses, starting with the Groth Cask, as we were eager to try this new bourbon. It has a spicy and overtly woody note that comes full-fledged in your mouth when you sip it. There is a robust sort of spice in this bottle, a lot of wood and not much else in our humble opinions. It is spicy in a way I do enjoy, but the strength of the wood flavor was not as pleasant. The finish left bitterness in my mouth that simply wasn’t enjoyable.
The Reserve, however, was much more delicious. As soon as you pour a glass, vanilla and caramel aromas soak the air. It’s like a bakery opened shop in your glass. The taste is nothing short of caramelized sugar and almost a flame roasted marshmallow. It is sweet, for sure, but not overtly sweet where you don’t want to drink it. This is something I could drink every night, and honestly, enjoy it forever I imagine. The finish was smooth with just the proper amount of burn that left me wanting another glass.
FIRST THOUGHTS: It’s obvious: the Reserve is a superior glass to the Groth finish. We don’t not recommend the Groth, because the bitterness may be different for you. If you already like red wine, this might be a perfect marriage for you. The Reserve’s drinkability is great for anyone new to bourbon or someone looking to try something neat. The Groth Cask is a bold and robust drink full of spicy flavor. For people who are into rye or more full-bodied bourbons this is something you might like.
I also realize that comparing the two side by side really elevated our opinions of the Reserve while putting the Groth Cask down. I decided to sip on the Groth again while writing this review, and it is not as bad as initially tasted. It has a certain depth that the Reserve doesn’t have but there is still a bitterness with the finish that I cannot get over.
THE VERDICT: Four Pours to Jefferson’s Reserve. This is something I will always have in my bar; a no brainer. The Groth Cask is harder to determine. Last Wednesday we gave it a hard Two Pours, something with potential but not something we would buy again, especially with a MSRP of $79.99. But today, sipping it again solo, I realized that it is more enjoyable than I initially realized. I think I will stick with the Two Pours but it is most definitely a soft two. Could very easily be a three for me as I continue to sip on the bottle. Certainly an acquired taste.
What else would you like to know about Jefferson’s? Please let us know if you have any questions. Be sure to leave your own opinion below in the comments.