Widow Jane Special Release Bourbon Trio

By: Fork & Stave

Proof:  91 Proof (45.5% ABV), No Age Statement

I returned from our Winter vacation to find the nicest of care packages waiting at the office.  Widow Jane was kind enough to send me samples of their Wapsie Valley, Bloody Butcher, and Bloody Butcher High Rye bourbons for review.  You’ll recall that I reviewed their 7 year bourbon and rye whiskey in 2013.  Following the early reviews, Widow Jane’s bourbon was selected as GQ’s number one bourbon for National Bourbon Day.  I’m a big fan of the work that Cacao Prieto is doing in Brooklyn and I think that the creation of urban distilleries, when it’s done right, can yield fantastic results. Done right…What does that really mean for an urban distillery?  To take a page out of Widow Jane’s playbook, that means that you know exactly where your ingredients come from, you distill your product on-site, and you age the juice yourself.  Widow Jane gets their limestone-rich water from the Widow Jane mine in Rosendale, NY.  The non-filtered water has plenty of beautiful, mineral-rich sediment that can be seen in each bottle.  Widow Jane grows their own non-GMO corn on farms in Rosendale and Hurley.  There are some fantastic pictures of the team harvesting and processing the corn and other grains in the Widow Jane Instagram feed.  In the storefront in Red Hook, Widow Jane has their own beautiful copper still, which is used to produce the bourbons I review below.  Proper education and attention to detail also takes a front seat at Cacao Prieto, yielding a staff that is knowledgeable about and highly invested in their product.  Taking it all a step further, the Widow Jane team is already releasing what I would consider artisan whiskey, like the ones discussed below, with fresh flavor profiles from decidedly unique raw materials.  They are perfectly situated to ride the wave of not only the explosion in bourbon’s popularity, but also farm-to-glass ingredient awareness.  These bourbons may be hard to find as word from Brooklyn was that they were selling out very fast.


Tasting Notes: After letting it breathe for 10 minutes, I sampled these bourbons neat.

Wapsie Valley Single Expression Bourbon

Rating: 3 Barrels (3 out of 5)

This bourbon won a silver medal at the 2013 San Francisco World Spirits Competition

Mash Bill: 85% Organic Wapsie Valley Corn, 15% Organic Malted Scarlett Barley

Nose: The first thing I got was banana bread, chopped walnuts, almonds, hints of cookie dough, and sweet corn.  Because of the very unique nose, I found myself taking several samples to see if I could pick out all of the nuances present in this whiskey.  The nose finishes with some oak, leather, coco beans, and a smell I can only liken to fresh stationary or printed paper.

First Sip: The first thing I noticed when I took a sip of the Wapsie Valley expression was dried fruit and the sweetness of the corn as those front parts of the tongue were activated.  There are more flavors of chopped nuts, touches of caramel, and vanilla cream.

Mouth Feel: The Wapsie Valley bourbon is very smooth and coating.  There are no drying or astringent qualities.

Finish: The finish is very different from other whiskies that I’ve reviewed recently.  There is a nice warm ending with a few last notes of baking spice, dark brown sugar, and clover honey.


Bloody Butcher Single Expression Bourbon

Rating: 3 Barrels (3 out of 5)

Mash Bill: 85% Organic Bloody Butcher Corn, 15% Organic Malted Scarlett Barley

Nose: Dried cherries, raisins, molasses, caramel, fresh baked bread, and oak.

First Sip: The Bloody Butcher expression opens onto the palate skipping the sweet notes, that you expect from the nose, and starting mid-palate with some spice and oak notes.

Mouth Feel: This bourbon has more tannic notes, which leave a drying sensation and astringent characteristic leading to the finish.

Finish: Pay attention because this guy is in a hurry to get out of town.  The ending is smooth, but also very quick.  My personal preference has always been a little longer finish, so I was left wanting more.


Bloody Butcher High Rye Bourbon

Rating: 4 Barrels (4 out of 5)

Mash Bill: 65% Organic Bloody Butcher Corn, 15% Organic Malted Scarlett Barley, 20% Rye

Nose: The nose is full of oak, baked bread, nutmeg, vanilla, and a delicious spice from the rye.

First Sip: It opens onto the palate with sweet molasses followed by apples, cinnamon, leather, touches of anise, cinnamon, and mint.

Mouth Feel: The mouth feel is dry and cleansing.

Finish: I enjoyed the finish much more in this expression.  It was much longer and brought back some stone fruit, raisin, and rye spice.  There’s a nice, slow burn and the finish is more well-rounded than the staccato ending mentioned in the previous review.  The finish would pair well with more food and dessert options than the standard Bloody Butcher expression given it’s length and taste profile.