Johnny Drum has an interesting history, having originally started back in the 1960s from Thompson Willett at the Willettt distillery. It was originally bottled exclusively for a wholesaler in California.
While the current Johnny Drum is different from the original, it still has a storied past, which makes this bourbon worth consuming. Currently there are three different types of Johnny Drum:
- Green Label - Low Shelf; 80 proof.
- Black Label - Mid Shelf; 86 proof.
- Private Stock (One being tasted) - 101 proof.
The Bourbon Quest Note: The wax is a huge pain. After I got the wax off, I had to chip away a bit more and really twist in order to get the seal to crack and the bottle to open. I've read similar reviews of this being an issue.
Age: Non-Age Stated
Distillery: (Branded under Johnny Drum Distilling Company) A branch of Willett Distillery.
Mashbill: Information Unknown
I've read plenty of reviews and after going through this whole review I had to come back to Aroma. I kept reading others and there was never any mention of heavy on the alcohol nose off the bat, maybe it was just my bottle or possibly others let it sit for a bit, but the nose was rough to start. After about 10 minutes of letting it sit out with the pour shown in the photo it finally opened up.
Once it opened up, it was a completely different experience. I began to experience some very intriguing smells, especially ones that reminded me of cutting down trees - heavy on cedar and oak, but not overpowering. These mixed incredibly well with hints of honey, mint, peach, and occasional vanilla notes.
Score: 26/33: (It's great after the alcohol, but I was put off by this 101 having too much alcohol on the nose for something not near barrel proof.)
The first thing that comes to mind here is how heavy and well-balanced the mouth feel is. For 101, it doesn't show it's proof in the taste, which I love about it. I'm not left with any burning or heat, which makes it really enjoyable to be able to gather all of the different flavors. While this bourbon delivers with complexity on the tongue, the biggest tastes to come to the surface are caramel, cinnamon and honey; overwhelming my pallet with hints of oak.
After my initial taste, I was pleased with the finish. In my experience, I've found shorter finishes on many heavy caramels, which is always disappointing. While I wouldn't consider it a long finish, it also wasn't short. On a scale of 1-10, I'd have to go with a 7/10. During the finish I finally received a little bit of heat, which had been lacking during the taste aspect. This is when I enjoy my heat because it hasn't taken away from my tasting experience. After the heat subsides a little hint of tobacco and mint finish this tasty drink.
This isn't a bourbon that I'd write home about. I'd love to have tried the Johnny Drum 15yr from back in the day, i can imagine that the extra age addressed all of my issues with this much younger version. At $30 just north of Boston, I'll definitely buy another bottle. I wouldn't place the bottle in a top 10 by any means, but enjoyable nonetheless. While it has it's negatives, it also has a nice taste. Would recommend to someone looking for a sub $35 bourbon and have had many of the other commonly consumed ones.
Final Score: 87/100