weller antique 107 review

Widow Jane 12 Year Single Barrel Bourbon Total Wine Select

widow jane 12 year TW pick barrel 1932

Distillery: Widow Jane (sourced from MGP)

Type & Region: Bourbon, Indiana, USA

Alcohol: 49.5%

Composition: Not disclosed – likely 75% corn, 21% rye, 4% barley

Aged: 12 years in virgin American white oak

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

Price: $100

From the Widow Jane website:

“Some say that Widow Jane 12 Year Old represents a deeper darker side to Widow Jane. This 99 proof single barrel Bourbon is selected from some of our favorite casks that show special promise. This whiskey is a private barrel selection and only available at select accounts. If you manage to find it, we’d recommend snatching it up.”

Company Website

weller antique 107 overview

Widow Jane is a distillery based in Brooklyn, NY, probably best known for their 10 year old bourbon. Most of what you will find from them is sourced from MGP in Indiana, but they are distilling and aging their own whiskeys, which you can find when you visit the distillery or have shipped to you if you live in New York state. For this review, I’m exploring a Total Wine selection of Widow Jane 12 Year Single Barrel Bourbon – barrel 1932, bottled in 2019. From what I saw in 2019 and 2020, Total Wine stores up and down the east coast purchased quite a few barrels of the 12 and 13 year (a separate release), at times with aisles loaded with them.

 

Widow Jane is far from the first distillery to source bourbon from MGP in Indiana, but what makes Widow Jane just a little different is that they use water from upstate New York to dilute the whiskey, similar to what Sagamore Spirit does with their rye whiskey. So, what we have is a 49.5% ABV 12 year old single barrel MGP bourbon with added “special sauce” New York State water. That sounds compelling to me, so let’s determine if the bourbon itself is just as interesting in this Total Wine Select Widow Jane 12 Year Single Barrel Bourbon review. 

weller antique 107 smell

Widow Jane 12 Year Single Barrel Bourbon launches me into a sea of dark, rich and luscious caramel, cherry, freshly peeled oranges and candied citrus, roasted vanilla, candied ginger, gouda cheese funk, dried berries, licorice, oak, tobacco, cinnamon, and cocoa powder. On top of that is this minty effervescence that covers everything like fog. This is an amazingly fragrant and dark fruit bomb. Oddly, the heat is a little intense, kicking closer to 55% than the stated 49.5%. The most interesting thing about this is that it clearly smells as if it were Armagnac and / or sherry finished, like Joseph Magnus Cigar Blend. It’s not though, which confuses me greatly. When I first smelled this weeks before I did this review, I was completely caught off guard and amazed. Reviewing it now weeks later, I still believe that this is one of the best noses I’ve ever smelled.

 

The nose becomes even better after swirling. My nose is bathed with round and dense caramel, lightly funky and nutty prunes, dates, berries, cherries, and red grapes as if it were sherry finished, freshly peeled oranges, peach, ginger, creamy vanilla, dark chocolate, starburst candy, starfruit, toasted oak, tobacco, and Nutella, with just a little mint. The nose is captivating – luscious, complex, and varied between the bright, dark, sweet, oaky, fruity, and herbal notes. I really love how fruity it is. How the heck does an unfinished bourbon have all these bold, defined, and rich fruity traits? It doesn’t make any sense to me, but I’m not complaining. Sweet Baby Yoda this is excellent, punching way above its age, ABV, and price.

weller antique 107 taste & aftertaste

Widow Jane 12 Year Single Barrel Bourbon comes guns-blazing with caramel, dried berries, dates, vanilla buttercream, roasted oak, tobacco, dried citrus peel, cinnamon, clove, and chocolate. Just like the nose, the flavors are packed with rich fruits, funky buttercream, and tobacco, undoubtedly tasting like an Armagnac finished bourbon (although it’s not). As mature as the flavors are, the heat can still be a tad hot for 49.5% ABV, but the extra intensity adds to much more to the flavors in every way – this is just incredible. My words really can’t do it justice, but I’ll continue to feebly try.

 

“Chewing” brings out the same burst of funky sweetness, honey, caramel, vanilla buttercream, tons of blueberries, grapes, cherry, citrus, gouda cheese, candied ginger, rock sugar, peach, licorice, tobacco, oak, cinnamon, and dark chocolate. The alcohol still kicks a little more than expected, but holy moly it’s ridiculously flavorful with a buffet of fruitiness. I just wish that this was cask strength so I could get the extra viscosity and oiliness. Even then, this tastes like a slightly thinner Joseph Magnus Cigar blend – making it unreal. Widow Jane 12 Year Single Barrel bourbon hits every flavor note and is so well balanced. Even though it’s not as huge and bold as I normally prefer, there’s still plenty of muscle at 49.5% ABV to wow me.

 

All those great flavors carry over into caramel, lightly oaky dried fruits, and chocolate on the finish, fading into honey, citrus, starfruit, mint, and bubblegum. The finish lasts for ages even after my first small sip. The finish continues to amaze me after “chewing”, that’s part caramel, starfruit, dried berries, pineapple, vanilla frosting, oak tannins, cinnamon, chocolate, tobacco, and a little mint. It’s a constantly evolving finish that starts dark, luscious, fruity, and mature, and becomes brighter and more lively over time. Five minutes later, and I’m still tasting the dried berries – magical.

Place on the Whiskey Shelf

Top Shelf +

I’m still surprised with Widow Jane 12 Year Single Barrel Bourbon’s “Top Shelf+” rating. I didn’t have any expectations going-in, and ended up having multiple “holy shit” moments that define “Top Shelf+” whiskey. You can’t even accuse me of being biased by hype, because to my knowledge there isn’t much hype around Widow Jane (yet). Even at the relatively low ABV, the scents and flavors are so expressive, nuanced, complex, and expansive, and somehow keep evolving with every smell and taste – pure fruit bomb bourbon enjoyment. I just wish I had bought at least 1 case of this when I had the chance, instead of letting this singular bottle sit on my shelf for a year before opening it and now being unable to buy more. 

 

I earnestly believe that this Total Wine Widow Jane 12 Year Single Barrel bourbon is one of the top bourbons I’ve had this year, and likely ever. My only complaint is that this should have been cask strength because it would have been earth shattering. I also miss some of the viscous mouthfeel and oiliness, so it may be chill filtered as well, but these are small things in the greater scheme of this immaculate bourbon. I’m so perplexed at how clearly this smells and tastes like an Armagnac and sherry finished bourbon (my personal favorite), but assuming that this is truly unfinished, this turned out to be a very “off-profile” yet spectacular barrel. 

 

This is one of the few $100+ bourbons that is worth every penny (and then some) and wildly exceeds my expectations. I want cases of this.

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