Joseph Magnus Cigar Blend Bourbon Batches #23-28 are set to arrive in select retail stores across the nation late this month and early next. Each Batch, a part of a larger coupe mere of bourbon barrels ranging from 12 to 20 years in age, has been described by Master Blender Nancy Fraley as having “the greatest range of proofs and aroma profiles” to date in the beloved Cigar Blend series. Read her tasting notes below.
Cigar Blend Bourbon Batch #23: Armagnac & Rancio
Armagnac Cask #10, 124.19 proof
Batch #23 has the highest proof in this series of Cigar Blend batches and shows well how aromas from freshly dumped Armagnac casks intermarry with bourbon. This particular batch offers the typical bourbon aromas of caramel, vanilla, and coconut shavings, layered with rich Armagnac notes of prunes in syrup, saddle leather, and semi-sweet dark chocolate, with the elusive, yet much-prized nutty quality of rancio. The palate expresses notes of dark dried fruit, Jamaican allspice, and plum. The finish is mid-to-long, with waves of spice, plum, chocolate, and toasted nuts.
Cigar Blend Bourbon Batch #24: The Fruit Bomb
Armagnac Cask #6, 123.79 proof
The nose of Batch #24 is fruit-forward and creamy, with salted caramel pudding and candied orange peel, cherry cobbler covered with a cinnamon-buttered biscuit crust, grilled peaches with mint, and ripe blackberries. The palate is a solid combination of rye, brown baking spices, sweet pipe tobacco, dried apricot, black currants, and Mission figs. The finish continues with waves of dried fruit, spice, and candied walnuts. For those that like some fruit aromas in their whiskey, this batch has it in spades.
Cigar Blend Bourbon Batch #25: The Pirate Cask
Armagnac Cask #9, 123.84 proof
The aromas found in Batch #25 prove to be somewhat of an outlier from the rest of the batches that derive from this coupe. This barrel is more reminiscent of the savory-sweet notes one finds in a long-aged rhum agricole from the French West Indies, combined with a long-aged Jamaican high-ester rum. This barrel exhibits notes of bouquet garni (think an herb mixture of thyme, parsley, basil, rosemary, peppercorn, tarragon), honeyed hay, thick molasses, and ripe tropical fruits such as pineapple, mango, coconut, and papaya. These notes follow through to the palate, with the savory-sweet flavors undulating in the finish.
Cigar Blend Bourbon Batch #26: Spice Dram
Armagnac Cask #5, 124.06 proof
Batch #26 was made for those who prefer a slightly drier, spicier, more rye-forward dram. The nose offers a fair amount of rye spice, coupled with a plethora of brown baking spices and sandalwood incense that derive from the Armagnac cask. On the palate, there are also notes of coconut cream pie, blanched almonds, orange marmalade on buttered toast, white pepper, fresh vanilla beans, and Chinese 5 spices. The finish begins with a spicy note and takes a long time to fade into a sweet plum pudding and nougat, with a whiff of barrel smoke.
Cigar Blend Bourbon Batch #27: Sweet One
Armagnac Cask #8, 121.31 proof
Batch #27 is the lowest proof from this Cigar Blend coupe. This means it picked up more of the water-soluble caramelized wood sugars from Armagnac barrel #8 than the other casks, leading to a sweeter nose and more roundness on the palate. This batch has notes of English Christmas cake and plum pudding soaked in brandy sauce, dark dried fruit, sweet iced tea with muddle mint, and dried apricots. These aromas carry over to the palate, where further notes of marzipan, buttered croissant, aromatic pipe tobacco, rum raisin ice cream, and saddle leather make their debut. Because of the extra caramelized wood sugars, the finish on this batch is much longer than the rest, with vanilla custard and more dried fruit.
Cigar Blend Bourbon Batch #28: The Amalgam
Armagnac Cask #28, 122.09 proof
Batch #28 is an interesting combination between Batches #24-26, with lots of sweet notes of thick molasses and maple syrup, Bing cherries, candied orange peel, blackberry jam, a hint of savory bouquet garni, coupled with rye, brown baking spices, and a big dose of toasted coconut shavings. In addition to the aromas above, the palate expresses additional notes of banana pudding with Nilla Wafers, Medjool dates, nutmeg, and hazelnuts. The finish is long, with mint leaves muddled with simple syrup and grilled peaches.