Johnny Drum is a sour-mash bourbon made by Kentucky Bourbon Distillers (also known as Willett). They have a Green label, Black label, a Black label 12 and this Private Stock label. It used to have a separate “15 years old” label on the neck but recently this has been left out so it’s possibly a little younger.
Note that the Willett distillery has been restarted in 2012, but this small batch whiskey is just a label – the spirit is bought from external sources (some suggest Heaven Hill further down the same road).
Johnny Drum ‘Private Stock’ 15 yo
(50,5%, OB 2012)
Nose: fairly spicy and woody, with some gingery oak and cinnamon sticks up front. Soft rye elements. A little nutmeg. Maple syrup and vanilla. Nice hints of peaches and banana in the background. Also interesting earthy hints and a fresh minty top note. Rounded off by some varnish.
Mouth: quite a surprise. Very savoury and spicy now, with the mouth-coating dryness of cinnamon, with leather and lots of pine and cedar wood. Juniper berries? Ginger. Something of a herbal gin indeed, strange. Burnt wood. Roasted pecans. Some medicinal notes even. Some late dark chocolate. Hardly any sweetness.
Finish: shortish, a little toffee sweetness now but still mostly spices and oak tannins.
A slightly strange bourbon, especially on the palate where it displays some uncommon herbs and spices, and few of the classic vanilla / caramel notes. Heavy on the oak and rye notes as well. Let’s keep it at interesting. Around € 45 from UK retailers.