Review: Davidson Reserve Four Grain Tennessee Straight Bourbon Whiskey

DSR – TN – 005: Davidson Reserve Four Grain Tennessee Straight Bourbon Whiskey

Company/Distillery: Pennington Distilling Company

Location: Nashville, Tennessee

Mash Bill: At least 51% corn, rye, wheat, and barley

Age Statement: At least 3 years

Proof/ABV: 100 Proof/50% ABV

Color & Viscosity: Very light amber or old gold. A very light and thin coating appears on the glass. Legs develop slow then quickly fall to the bottom of the glass.

Purchase Price: $44.95 from NC ABC store September 2020; 750 ml

Bottle Label Information:

Neck Label

“Small Batch”

“Pennington Distilling Co.”

Front Label

“Davidson Reserve Tennessee Straight Bourbon Whiskey”

“Four Grain – Rye | Wheat | Corn | Barley”

“Small Batch”

“Batch No. 005 | Bottle No. 1416 | Age At Least 3 years”

Back Label

“At Pennington Distilling Co we believe that authenticity and regard for tradition define the quality of our whiskeys. Performing each step of the process at the distillery allows us to produce whiskeys of exceptional craftsmanship and distinction. We think you’ll find it’s worth the effort.”

“Distilled & bottled by: Pennington Distilling Co., Nashville, TN”


Distillery Background

Pennington Distilling Co.

Pennington Distilling Company was founded in 2011 by the husband and wife team of Jeff and Jenny Pennington. The Penningtons decided to build their distillery in the historic Nations neighborhood on the west side of downtown Nashville, Tennessee. In order to get the business up and running, the Distillery launched its Whisper Creek Tennessee Sipping Cream as it first product offering. This American interpretation of Irish Cream would garner Pennington Distilling Company the much needed name recognition to begin distillation and aging of their own Tennessee Whiskey. Shortly thereafter, the distillery started producing Picker’s Vodka and Picker’s Crafted Cocktails. Pennington Distillery prides itself on being one of the few “small batch” distilleries in Tennessee – bucking the current trend of sourcing spirits from massive operations to jump start an infant distillery.

In 2017, Pennington Distillery would release its first Whiskey offering, Davidson Reserve Rye Whiskey, made in-house from local grains sourced from Renfroe Farms in Huntington, Tennessee. Since that first release, Pennington Distilling Co. has added Davidson Reserve Tennessee Straight Sour Mash Whiskey, Davidson Reserve Four Grain Tennessee Straight Bourbon Whiskey, Davidson Reserve Bourbon, and its annual seasonal special release known as Davidson Reserve Genesis Bottled in Bond.

Additional information about the distillery and their many product offerings can be found on the Pennington Distilling Company website.

Tennessee Four Grain Straight Bourbon Whiskey

Pennington Distilling Company carefully crafts its Tennessee Four Grain Straight Bourbon Whiskey by blending their Tennessee Straight Rye Whiskey (100% Tennessee cereal rye; no age statement), Tennessee Straight Sour Mash Whiskey (70% Tennessee white corn, 25% Tennessee cereal rye, and 5% malt; charcoal mellowed, aged at least 4 years), and Tennessee Straight Bourbon Whiskey (60% Tennessee corn, 22% Tennessee red winter wheat, and 18% malted barley; aged 4-6 years). This offering is aged at least 3 years and is bottled at 100 proof.

Tasting Notes

Tasting Date/Vessel: October 4, 2020 – Neat in Glencairn Glass, second time with a splash of distilled water.


Christian: Before I nose this whiskey in the glass, I took a quick sniff of the bottle. The bottle produces a pleasant aroma of leaf tobacco. My first nosing of the glass quickly offers a surprising and unexpected flavor, similar to that of new make or corn moonshine – tons of corn. When I take the glass away, swirl, and slowly bring it back to my nose, a sweetness of caramel sauce and honey become present. In addition, a noticeable smokiness is at hand. The addition of distilled water may sweeten this up a tad, but corn whiskey and caramel sauce are still the predominate flavor profiles.

Mike: Aromas of new make whiskey/moonshine are robust. There is a very faint bouquet of green bananas as I swirl the glass around my nose. A deeper dive into the glass presents a tang of malt vinegar. As I pull back, a soft cereal mellowness, almost like crushed Cheerios, emerges.


Christian: As I take my fist sip of this whiskey, the mouth feel is silky with a light film of coating on my tongue. This is a very corn forward whiskey on the palate. As I take another sip, a very light but noticeable hint of leather, cloves, and honey is present. The distilled water lightens the mouth feel and removes the little bit of oiliness that was present. The flavor profile on the palate is still heavy corn with a touch of honey.

Mike: As expected by the nose, the initial perception on the tongue is extremely corn forward.  Swells of young heat surge to the back of the throat and is fantastically tenacious with its peppery sting. The mouthfeel rounds out with gentle leathery notes and a muted honey sweetness.


Christian: The finish is hot, dry, and medium in length with rough edges – really drinks like a much younger whiskey than advertised. The finish of this whiskey is heavy barrel char, oak, and a side of black pepper. The bitterness of the wood really makes it hard to detect much else, however, as the oak begins to dissipate, I notice a nice stone fruit (peach or mango) and minty finishing flavor. On the back end, the distilled water takes some of the bite out of this whiskey, but the bitterness of the oak remains front and center. An ever so slight hint of toasted brown sugar begins to sneak in ever so lightly with the remaining mint.

Mike: The finish is long with a significant raze of heat in the chest. There is a wine must after taste, similar to bitter muscadine grapes.

Our Rating

Final Thoughts

Christian: To the best of my knowledge, this Davidson Reserve Four Grain Tennessee Whiskey, is the only offering currently available in our area of North Carolina. I wish we could have tasted the other three offerings first to get a better understanding of what is building the flavor profile of this blended whiskey and which may be influencing the flavor profile the most. Unfortunately, we don’t have that option.

This whiskey tastes young and unbalanced. The flavor profile is a bit one note with very unassuming flavors. I was rather surprised at the similarity to flavors found in a corn whiskey/moonshine or new make whiskey product. The Four Grain seems to be missing something to make it more balanced – I was desiring a nice “pop” of flavor, like a dark maple syrup or fresh tobacco, to push this whiskey over the edge. I didn’t get that with this offering. Given the price point of $45 and the overall young flavor profile, I don’t foresee myself keeping this whiskey around on the bar. I do, however, hope to try some of the expressions on their own some time in the future.

Rating: 2.0 Rickhouses

Mike: I am hesitant about this offering. Based on the mash bills of the blends, I feel this should have a collection of flavor and come off incredibly complex, however, I get none of that. I have recently become an admirer of new make/moonshine and have learned to appreciate the quality and intricacies that different methods and mash bills offer. In my opinion, a bourbon should not mimic those characteristics. 

The addition of water brings about green apple tartness in the nose with a hint of caramel. The mouthfeel is still spicy as a subtle brown sugar sweetness emerges. The heat in the finish is still persistent but offers a minty freshness, which I have rather enjoyed. 

Overall, this whiskey presents itself very young and largely monotone in flavor.

Rating: 2.25 Rickhouses


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