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Joseph Magnus Cigar Blend Bourbon (Batch 204) Review
Jos. A. Magnus & Co. is a fascinating company among sourced American whiskeys. It’s a resurrected brand named for Joseph A. Magnus, who produced a line of whiskeys in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. According to the brand, one of Magnus’ great-grandsons discovered a small collection of Joseph’s original whiskeys nearly 100 years later. The brand was relaunched in 2015 with a focus on utilizing “the same blending and finishing techniques Joseph Magnus employed over 100 years ago."
The brand’s primary spirit is Joseph Magnus Bourbon, a blend of sourced bourbons finished in Oloroso sherry, Pedro Ximénez sherry, and Cognac casks. The most premium bourbon — the one we’re examining today — is Joseph Magnus Cigar Blend, a collaboration with legendary blender and spirits expert Nancy Fraley. Cigar Blend features the base Joseph Magnus Bourbon blended with 11 and 18 year-old bourbons, then finished in Armagnac casks.
Early batches of Cigar Blend featured whiskey sourced from Indiana (almost certainly MGP), though more recent releases include at least some Kentucky bourbon. The final blends are currently produced in Holland, Mich. With a suggested retail of around $300, this falls on a high end of the spectrum for American whiskey.
The stated goal of Cigar Blend is to carry enough bold flavor to “enjoy with a fine cigar,” hence the unique name. The bottle reviewed today is from batch 204 and bottled at 114.78 proof. Let’s see how it tastes!
Joseph Magnus Cigar Blend Bourbon: Stats and Availability
Joseph Magnus Cigar Blend Bourbon is produced in several dozen (at least) batches throughout the year, though today the brand no longer lists exact sizes for those releases. The pace of releases has picked up in recent years, and the MSRP has climbed from around $175 to $300 today. It’s not a bottle you’ll see on every liquor store shelf. But because of the very premium price and frequency of releases, it doesn’t tend to command a markup far above suggested retail.
Joseph Magnus Cigar Blend Bourbon Review
As with all of VinePair’s whiskey reviews, this was tasted in a Glencairn glass and rested for at least five minutes.
Lemon peel and baking spice (cinnamon and allspice) lead on the nose.
Those quickly coalesce into a heavy note of dense, store-bought fruitcake dense with dried and candied fruit. There’s a relatively minor note of medicinal cherry — compounding the fruitcake — along with both vanilla and almond extracts.
The brand’s own notes suggest aromas of tobacco, which is certainly present, but there’s something more complex just beneath that smell. For this batch, the oak influence is closer to leather bindings and printed paper, much like a first whiff upon entering an old library.
A final note after several returns to the glass is nearly-burnt chocolate, as if a dessert-bound sauce was left in the pan just a few minutes too long. It turns gradually more toward this note the longer it’s in the glass. Overall, the nose is bold, tannic, and punchy, thus far living up to its name as a worthy cigar pairing.
Dried and sweet pipe tobacco is much more pronounced at first sip. Right behind that is blackcurrant, fig, and dried date. As the flavors transition to the midpalate, brown sugar and heavily toasted pecan become more pronounced. A melody of chocolate and nutty notes increase toward the back and sides of the tongue, including roasted peanuts, hazelnuts, and macadamia.
On subsequent sips, the fruit notes evolve to slightly lighter varieties, with small hints of citrus peel, red delicious apples, and canned pears in syrup. It’s where the Armagnac and Cognac finishes (finally) shine through.
The mouthfeel isn’t remarkably viscous, but it’s up to the challenge of conveying most of the flavors with ample strength; still, I feel a tiny bit more viscosity would add even more depth to an already layered series of flavors.
The finish starts powerfully with plenty of rye spice and continued elements of roasted nuts. Instead of a gradual dissipation of flavors, there’s a somewhat sudden dropoff into tannic and borderline sour territory (lemon again). Tobacco makes a reappearance, but not nearly as sweet as on the palate. The downshifted finish makes some sense given the suggested pairing with a cigar, though sipped on its own, I found it a small step below the experience on the palate.
Joseph Magnus Cigar Blend Bourbon Rating
This batch of Joseph Magnus Cigar Blend certainly doesn’t skimp on flavor, leaning toward bold and tannic instead of delicate and fruity. Though the company’s batches have risen above 200, blender Nancy Fraley hasn’t lost sight of the bourbon’s stated role as a cigar pairing.
As it stands, Joseph Magnus Cigar Blend is a bourbon that will please most while greatly appealing to fans of a particular niche of bold whiskey. Feel free to enjoy it with a cigar, though this bourbon gives drinkers plenty to speculate about on its own.