Nestled next to JTS Brown at my local big-box liquor store is JW Dant Bottled in Bond. This huge 1-liter bottle, 25% more than a standard 750ml bottle, priced at $23 has caught my eye more than once. I figured it was time to give this bargain-shelfer a try.
JW Dant, a Heaven Hill product, is named after Joseph Washington Dant, a Kentucky distiller during the 1830s.Legend has it that he utilized a log still. During the period, settlers on the frontier didn’t have funds for a copper still. An old-time method was to hollow-out a section of tree trunk and lay a copper pipe through it. The hollow log would be filled with fermented mash and steam was funneled through the pipe to distill the native spirit.
Over the decades, the name has been acquired by Heaven Hill, purveyors of a number of Heaven Hill releases, Elijah Craig, Larceny, the silky smooth Henry McKenna 10-Year, and a number of lesser-known brands, including JTS Brown and JW Dant – both of which are Bottled-in-Bond expressions.
Recently, J. W. “Wally” Dant – the great-great-grandson of JW Dant – purchased 220 acres of land to begin construction of the Log Still Distillery. The land purchased was the former Gethsemane Distillery which has been shuttered for nearly 60 years. The original distillery on the site – Head & Beam – was closed during Prohibition. It subsequently re-opened after Prohibition, before consolidating with United Distillers, and later, Schenley. While Wally may be a Dant descendent, don’t expect Heaven Hill to release this brand name. I’d expect Wally to come up with his own Kentucky bourbon brand.
Back to the JW Dant bourbon at hand – today, many bourbons don’t carry an age statement. Passed in 1897, the Bottled-in-Bond Act provided the first food safety legislation. The BiB Act states that the final product has been aged and bottled according to the Bottled-in-Bond Act of 1897. The bourbon must be the product of one distillation season, by a single distiller, at a single location. It must be aged in a federally bonded warehouse under U.S. government supervision for at least 4 years and bottled at 100 proof. The label must identify the distillery where it was distilled. Only spirits produced in the U.S. may be bonded.
Similar to one of our favorites, JTS Brown, this hefty 1-liter bottle has a simple by-gone label. Like most of the Heaven Hill releases, this, too, shares a 75% corn, 13% rye, and 12% barley mash bill. I find it interesting that distilleries can share a common mash bill and yeast, and yet by barrel location or age can dramatically change the flavor profile.
Eye: Amber. I had some Heaven Hill 6-year Green Label handy, and the color is similar.
Nose: Lovely caramel and butterscotch notes with some lighter floral essences.
Palate: The nose holds true on this one – caramel and butterscotch with some spice and oak that follows. A somewhat-light mouthfeel.
Finish: Medium in length with spice and oak. It is a little rougher with oak and cinnamon spice.
Overall: Heaven Hill puts out a number of bottled-in-bond expressions, including Evan Williams BiB, JTS Brown BiB, the now-discontinued HH 6-Year BiB, Henry McKenna 10-year BiB, and this JW Dant BiB. To be honest, these can all start to run together – which means this could be a future Battle of the Bourbons post. Some have expressed that a number of these lesser-known brands, such as JTS Brown and JW Dant are the cast-offs or barrels that didn’t quite make the cut for more prominent brands, such as Evan Williams or Henry McKenna.
In my opinion, this wasn’t a bad bourbon – especially for the price. The one-liter set me back $23, which would imply about a $17-$18 standard 750ml price tag. The nose was lovely, and the palate was decent. The finish left slightly more oak and occasionally a bitter tannic note.
Now the coin flip: JW Dant Bottled-in-Bond or JTS Brown Bottled-in-Bond? Truth be told, I’d give the nod to Heaven Hill 6-Year Bottled-in-Bond in a heartbeat. Since that isn’t an option, Preacher – get me some bourbon. JTS Brown. No ice; no glass.”