Great Jones Peated Scotch Cask Bourbon​ Review [In Depth]

Great Jones Peated Scotch Cask Bourbon

Alex author
Founder, writer
Great Jones Peated Cask Bourbon header

Great Jones Peated Scotch Cask Bourbon​ Details

Distillery: Great Jones

Type & Region: Bourbon, New York, USA

Alcohol: 48%

Composition: Unknown

Aged: 7 years in white oak + 2 years in peated Scotch casks

Color: 1.4/2.0 on the color scale (tawny)

Price: $150

From the company website:

The Great Jones Peated Scotch Cask Bourbon bears the unmistakably peaty essence of fine Scotch, and the smooth, well-balanced character of New York bourbon.

Crafted from corn, barley, and rye grown in the legendary Black Dirt region of Warwick Valley, NY. Distilled at Manhattan’s first legal whiskey distillery since prohibition, aged in white American oak barrels, and finished in Peated Scotch casks.

Great Jones Peated Scotch Cask Bourbon overview

There’s one and only one distillery in Manhattan – Great Jones distilling. I mean…come on…you need a ton of space to have a distillery and space is crazy expensive in Manhattan as it is. Not only that, they’re located more or less next to the Astor Place subway station, right around the corner from Astor Place Wine and Spirits. It is a prime location right in the heart of Manhattan.
I used to live in Manhattan (Financial District to be exact), years before Great Jones was opened in Summer 2021, and my rent was painful.
I guess I’ve belabored the point about New York City because it’s a bold and expensive decision. If you’re going to spend that much money setting up shop there, then you better be making great whiskey. I’m going to find out if that’s what Great Jones is doing.
So to the whiskey – it’s a 7 year old New York bourbon that was then finished for 2 years in casks that previously held peated Scotch. Wait what…two years is a REALLY LONG TIME to finish bourbon in barrels that previously held peated Scotch.
Actually, two years is a really long time to finish any bourbon. It takes real commitment to wait that long, especially when so many companies do it for 2-3 months at most. With a finish that long, regardless of the type, you run the risk of the finish being overdone. It also takes great skill to monitor how the bourbon changes over time.
Based on the fact that the distillery was established in 2021 and this bourbon was released in Fall 2023, that means that Great Jones sourced bourbon from one or more New York Distilleries. My best guess is from Black Dirt distilling. Black Dirt Distilling is located in Warwick, NY and Great Jones mentions that the grains come from that region. That’s just my best guess. Regardless, the bourbon was made in New York using grains grown in New York and New York water. It embodies New York through and through.
Let’s find out if such a long finish leads to great results in this Great Jones Peated Scotch Cask Bourbon review.
Thank you to Great Jones for providing this sample. All opinions are still my own.
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Great Jones Peated Scotch Cask Bourbon smell

Great Jones Peat Cask Finish Bourbon is very earthy and vegetal up front with pumpernickel, smoke, and salt followed by caramel, leafy green vegetables, dried orange peel, vanilla, roasted oak, cinnamon, apricot, ripe red apple, and roasted malts and dark chocolate.
I like peated Scotch so I already like the mix of peat and then the sweeter and slightly fruity bourbon, but it all feels out of balance at first because the peat overpowers the bourbon. With more time the darker sweetness sets in to fill out the bourbon so it somewhat better holds up to the peat cask.
I wish the bourbon were a bit fuller and more expressive, but so far it’s pleasant and enjoyable for me, although a bit unbalanced.
After swirling, the scents again start very vegetal, smoky, ashy, and dry, followed by some sweet-ish honey, orange, vanilla, roasted oak, cinnamon, and pumpernickel. The peat is immediately ready to go while the bourbon needs more time to get ready.
My main qualm is that the bourbon isn’t rich enough to withstand the peat cask, which adds aggressive and in your face notes. Ideally, the bourbon should still be the star, not the peat, or at least equal partners. That unfortunately isn’t quite the case here. Given the base bourbon, it was probably finished for too long.
Great Jones Peat Cask Bourbon still smells good, but I think this can be a lot better with small tweaks, like less time in the secondary peat cask.

Great Jones Peated Scotch Cask Bourbon​ taste and aftertaste

The flavors have fungal and earthy caramel, salt brine, roasted oak, smoke, cinnamon, leafy greens, pumpernickel, dried mushrooms, must, something burnt, dried apricot and orange peel. As you might expect, it’s quite earthy, peaty (duh), musty, and ashy.
The peat kicks in harder in the flavors than it does in the scents, bringing very forward earthiness and peatiness. I’m not sure that the bourbon holds up well to the stronger peat. It still tastes good, but the balance doesn’t feel right because the bourbon doesn’t bring enough of its own sweetness and denseness to complement the peat. There’s too much peat given how the bourbon is.
With “chewing”, I taste fungal and vegetal honey, leafy greens, smoke, ash, must, apricot, vanilla, roasted oak, cinnamon, and some roasted grains. The peat still makes up too much of the experience, even for a peated Scotch lover like me. This doesn’t feel quite right.
The aftertaste has smoke, leafy greens, dried mushrooms, caramel, dried orange peel, red apples, and cinnamon with lingering smoke, ash, and caramel. It’s drying, earthy, and woody very much like a peated single malt Scotch, so no surprises there.
Balance is so important with peated whiskey (except with Octomore because insane peat is the point). There are so many ways to do it right, but the key is that the spirit itself has enough density and sweetness to go toe to toe with the peat.
The fruitiness and sweetness have to cut through the peaty notes. You do that with either less peat or a great base spirit that can handle the peat. With Great Jones Peat Cask Bourbon, the bourbon isn’t ready to handle the peat.
The bourbon isn’t completely overpowered so I still get some of that base bourbon, but it’s not holding up well. It’s not unpleasant or bad, but not great either.

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Seriously, if you already have glasses, protect them.

Great Jones Peated Scotch Cask Bourbon Rating

Mid Shelf
I respect that Great Jones tried to do something different with this peated cask finish, but I don’t think that they succeeded. Two years was entirely too long for this finish and I don’t know why they thought that would be a good idea for something like this. They played with fire (technically more like smoke) and got burned with a decent result that I can’t recommend, even as someone who enjoys peated Scotch.
Full disclosure, I did zero research before doing this review so I went into this mostly blind. I knew this came from Great Jones and was peated, and that’s it. I didn’t know the age or finish length, but after looking, my notes make so much more sense.
Finishing bourbon in casks that held peated Scotch has to be one of the most difficult and unforgiving finishes to do. It can be beautifully smoky and savory, but you have to keep in mind that it can also be aggressive, abrasive, and all sorts of wild. You have to carefully tame it, or it’s going to run rampant all over the whiskey.
You can probably live with a slightly overdone wine or brandy finish that gives you a little more of that thing (usually more sweetness and fruitiness), but peat casks don’t do that. I don’t think too many people will complain about slightly too much extra dark berry or dried orange, but peat will just smack you in the face.
Peated single malt Scotch aged in ex-bourbon casks works so well (most of the time at least) because the honey and tropical citrus can cut through the peat. Bruichladdich 10 Year is a great example of that balance, and it’s “Top Shelf” scotch for it.
I have to reiterate this again – I am a huge fan of peated Scotch and smoky things in general. I am just not a big fan of this bourbon, and it’s an even harder sell for $150.
Alex author
Meet the Author: Alex

I have far too much fun writing about whiskey and singlehandedly running The Whiskey Shelf to bring you independent, honest, and useful reviews, comparisons, and more. I’m proudly Asian American and can speak Cantonese, Mandarin, and some Japanese.

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BrüMate NOS’R, Double-Wall Stainless Steel Whiskey Nosing Glass – 7oz (Matte Black)