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  • Writer's pictureJoseph Bourbon

Joseph Magnus

I confess that I'm a little mixed when it comes to finished whiskeys, where bourbon is supplementary aged in different barrels or with varying staves. While I've enjoyed some of the Maker's Mark Private Select, I wasn't sure if I would enjoy a triple-cask-finished bourbon from Joseph Magnus. But, since we share a name, this one was worth a shot.

The Particular Brand

There really was a Joseph Magnus and his story begins during the Civil War. Upon hearing that his father had been killed in battle, Magnus took it upon himself to become the breadwinner for his family. He followed in his father's footsteps to become a merchant, and before long, he built a decent local empire in Cincinnati, Ohio, especially when it came to the sale of wholesale liquor.

By the turn of the century, Magnus was distilling and selling under the Murray Hill Club Whiskey brand. In advertisements of the day, it was touted as "This particular brand for particular people". Prohibition brought an end to Magnus' liquor empire, and like many brands and distilleries, it faded away with time.

Fast forward nearly a century to one of Joseph's great-grandsons who uncovered a few, carefully preserved bottles of 122-year-old Murray Hill Club Whiskey. Bourbon experts were brought in to sample, test, and reproduce the historic brand. Today, under Master Blender Nancy Fraley, a triple cask finishing process is used to create the bourbon that was once one of the region's best.

The Tasting

There’s no hint of a mash bill, other than indicating it uses a triple cask finish, where the bourbon has been transferred three times into three different barrels. That, in itself, indicates a large, manual effort to transfer the spirits on three occasions in addition to the original filling process.The label indicates that Olorso sherry, Pedro Ximénez sherry, and cognac casks are used.

While no age statement is present on the bottle, the website indicates it is made with 12-year-old sourced bourbon from Indiana (probably MGP in Lawrenceburg) and from Kentucky (Heaven Hill would be one of the few distilleries with bourbon this old). It is bottled at 100 proof and this pour is from bottle 77 of batch 287.

Eye: With evidence of time spent in oak, the color is dark amber.

Nose: Warm and inviting with ripe plums layered with oak and light orange-citrus notes. This smells delicious.

Palate: A rich mouthfeel that is creamy, with layers of brown sugar, vanilla, and subtle spice, balanced with dark fruit.

Finish: Medium-long, with an initial wave of sugary sweetness balanced by vanilla, leather, and dried oak.

Overall: This was quite good, and I'm super glad to have received this as a gift. The finished product that has touched the 3 finished barrels plus the original oak barrels from sourced bourbon, has resulted in an exceptional experience for the senses.

I'm quick to walk by finished bourbons, and I'm not even sure why. I guess I figure that some are less-than-good bourbon that have been finished to improve their palate. This, however, is one worth grabbing if you see it. At a price point of $100+, this isn't one for every day, but is one to savor neat on the weekend.

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