DAVID NICHOLSON 1843 RESERVE
I was spending a lunch hour strolling through a regional liquor chain when this clearance tag caught my eye – $20 marked down to $14. I’d tried this one before, but it had been pre-blog. For $14, it certainly can’t be too bad, and to be honest, it was eerily serendipitous as my social media feed had been showing a number of ads for this one, as well.
Who is Luxco?
While Luxco isn’t a household name – there’s a chance you’ve tried one of their products: Rebel Yell, Yellowstone, Ezra Brooks, Blood Oath, David Nicholson, Everclear, and a host of vodkas and tequilas. Dating back to the late 1950’s, founders Paul Lux and David Sherman cut their teeth on private labeling sourced bourbon. Around 2006, the brand was relaunched as Luxco in tribute to one of its founders.
In 2018, construction was completed on the Lux Row Distillery in Bardstown, Kentucky. As a new addition to the Kentucky Bourbon Trail, and having their own distilling capacity, I would anticipate that Luxco will begin replacing their sourced barrels with their own distillate.
Who was David Nicholson?
The Luxco website shares scant details about this bourbon’s namesake. We learn that David Nicholson was a grocer in St. Louis and created the famed ’43 bourbon recipe. Eventually the recipe was passed down to succeeding generations. 1843 Reserve is a wheated bourbon (likely sourced from Heaven Hill barrels that make their way into Larceny, Old Fitzgerald, and Rebel Yell). In addition to the 1843 Reserve brand there is a high-rye David Nicholson Reserve variation.
Hailing from the Heaven Hill family of wheated bourbons, I’m always curious of their Old Fitzgerald wheated bourbon. While still available today, its at a younger proof and age than its former bottled-in-bond self that was once available from Heaven Hill and in its formerly glory under the Stitzell-Weller brand and under the influence of Julius “Pappy” Van Winkle Sr. Today, the Old Fitzgerald Bottled-in-Bond is much older – and way more expensive – than the former $13 or $14 BiB version. I wonder if this [currently] sourced bourbon could be similar? Let’s grab a glass.
David Nicholson 1843 Reserve is bottled at 100 proof. It is labeled as “Kentucky Straight Bourbon Whiskey”, indicating the product is at least 2 years old and was produced in Kentucky. If we follow the rumors on sourcing from Heaven Hill, this would appear to be a clue. Some feel this is made from barrels that are at least 4 years old. The label indicates that it is bottled by David Nicholson Distiller, St. Louis, Missouri.
There is no indication as to the mashbill, but we can assume that, being a wheated bourbon, the primary grains are corn, wheat, and malted barley.
Eye: Medium Amber.
Nose: Classic corn and vanilla. Nothing overwhelming or underwhelming here – it’s actually decently balanced. There are some gingersnap spice notes too that are a pleasant surprise.
Palate: A light mouthfeel with vanilla and butterscotch early followed by spice – nutmeg or allspice perhaps?
Finish: Medium-long with a bit of youthful, higher-proof burn. Very dry and oaky with lingering spice notes. The finish will linger around – there’s definitely wood and even a nutty pecan-like flavor. It is definitely longer than many at this price point and expect a long, woody note.
Overall: This was a pleasant surprise – even more pleasant since I found this at a bargain price of around $14 – about $7 less than its typical price. I’m not sure I’d pay $30+ for this, as there are many better everyday drinkers you can find in the mid $25-$35 range.
The higher proof means it will hold its own in ice or in a cocktail, as well. If you catch this one on sale or clearance, grab a bottle and raise your glass to one of the newest members of the Kentucky Bourbon Trail.