Review: Jefferson’s Reserve – Davidson County Single Barrel

DSR – KY – 018: Jefferson’s Reserve – Davidson County Single Barrel Pick

Company/Distillery: Kentucky Artisan Distillery

Location: Crestwood, Kentucky

Mash Bill: Undisclosed

Age Statement: No Age Statement

Proof/ABV: 100 Proof/50% ABV

Color & Viscosity:  This bottle of Jefferson’s Reserve Single Barrel Bourbon – Hickory Tree Series Barrel Pick was a 45th birthday gift and was presented to me in a beautiful etched Rickhouse Ramblings logo decanter. From the decanter, the whiskey exudes a rich auburn color.  Poured into a glass, this bourbon appears chestnut in color. 

Purchase Price: $59.95 for 750ml at the NC ABC Stores

Bottle Label Information:

Front Label




Side Label

Single Barrel Hand-Selected By:

Hickory Tree Series



Distillery Background

Kentucky Artisan Distillery

Kentucky Artisan Distillery was founded in 2012 by Steve Thompson (passed away September 6, 2021), Chris Miller, and Mike Loring in Crestwood, Kentucky. Prior to opening Kentucky Artisan Distillery, Mr. Thompson worked as President of Brown-Forman Distilleries from 1987 to 1995. He founded Hawaiian Island Spirits in 2007 before finally launching Kentucky Artisan Distillery.

Kentucky Artisan Distillery is housed in a 15,000 square foot former ice cream plant. The distillery became Kentucky’s first contract distiller and is capable of distilling anywhere from one barrel to over 1,800 barrels per year for customers like Jefferson’s Bourbon. Kentucky Artisan Distillery proudly produces the brands of Jefferson’s Bourbon, Whiskey Row Bourbon, and Billy Goat Strut North American Whiskey.

Jefferson’s Bourbon

Jefferson’s Bourbon was established in 1997 by father and son duo, Chet and Trey Zoeller. The Zoeller’s connection to whiskey dates back to 1799 when Trey’s 8th generation grandmother was arrested for the production and sale of liquor. Jefferson’s Bourbon has always been known for being master blenders rather than distillers. In 2015, Jefferson’s Bourbon purchased Kentucky Artisan Distillery. In 2022, parent company Pernod Ricard invested $250 million over 5 years to build Jefferson’s Bourbon their own distillery. Visit the Jefferson’s Bourbon website for more on its distillery and family of bourbon offerings.

Tasting Notes

Tasting Date/Vessel: June 9, 2023 – Neat in a Glencairn glass


Christian: In the bottle, Jefferson’s Reserve Single Barrel – Hickory Tree Series offers nice aromatic flavors of cinnamon, fresh pipe tobacco, sweet dark brown sugar, and a subtle floral note. In my Glencairn glass, copious amounts of fresh black tea permeate the air. A second pass relinquishes a gentle sweetness accompanied by a decent punch of ethanol and yeast. As the flavors settle, notes of honey, fresh hay, caramel, and spearmint are all experienced.

Mike: As I nose this Jefferson’s Reserve Single Barrel from the decanter, waves of sweet tobacco are followed by soft hints of wet oak. Next, undertones of honeysuckle intertwine with cherry and vanilla aromas and flood my nostrils. In the glass I detect a sweet punch of bubble gum that quickly transitions to dry cinnamon then recedes to a subtle acetone aroma mixed with some bread yeast. A swirl of the glass reveals notes of black tea leaves and stone fruit trailed by cinnamon red-hot candies. 

Juan: Jefferson’s Reserve Single Barrel Bourbon opens with an inviting mature scent of earthy coffee tobacco with a spice finish. There’s an energy switch as this quickly transitions to that of smooth honey candy. Finally, the whiskey reveals an aromatically polished combination of cinnamon, black pepper, and floral rose.


Christian: Jefferson’s Reserve offers a smooth and creamy mouthfeel on the tongue. I am met with beautiful notes of freshly brewed tea and sweet warm walnuts with molasses sauce. Oak is present but delicate and tastes more toasted than charred. Finally, sweet vanilla and butterscotch round out this pour.

Mike: As I sip this very old Jefferson’s, it is noticeably thin on the palate upfront. Sweet honey and spiced tea lead the way then yield to bitter dried orange peel. My first impression is reminiscent of a spice used in a Belgian wit. Stone fruit flavors materialize mid-palate, hinting towards pear, and are very soft and delectable. A second pass reveals sweet cigar tobacco undertones that are mild and very palatable.

Juan: Wow, instantaneously this bourbon punches me in the face with hot herbal tea accompanied by a hint of orange peel bitter. The taste makes you feel like a lit-up fall holiday, despite my calendar saying it’s July.


Christian: The finish on this bourbon whiskey is medium in length. A slight cinder tingles the tongue and throat. In the finish, I am noticing notes of peaches/pears in thick, sweet syrup. Much like a fall dessert, the fruit is joined by toasted brown sugar and just a smidgen of bitter oak barrel char. 

Mike: This Jefferson’s Reserve Very Old Hickory Tree Series offers a medium to long finish. There is a satisfying raze of heat that sits in the lower part of the throat then fades slowly. Shades of cinnamon dusted pears linger on the palate then fade to even heavier notes of more saturated cinnamon flavors. 

Juan: The Jefferson’s Reserve of today’s review offers an appealing touch of toffee and honey butterscotch with a subtle kick of sweet malt cocoa! Amongst friends, this is a bottle that can go in a hurry. While sipping on this, you will quickly notice the conversations getting interesting and the whiskey going down quickly.

Our Rating

Final Thoughts

Christian: What a pour this Single Barrel Hickory Tree Series Barrel Pick from Jefferson’s Reserve turned out to be! This is just about as balanced of a bourbon as one could desire. An evolving nose leads into a balanced symphony of flavors on the palate that slowly crescendo into a rush of sweetness and spice in the finish. Bravo, Eric and team on another quality barrel pick. I could wax poetic about my feelings for this bourbon, but I need to go see if more of these are waiting around at our local ABC Store for purchase.

Rating: 4.00 Rickhouses

Mike: Eric and the staff at the Hickory Tree ABC store in Davidson County, NC did a superb job with this private barrel selection. This is a very sweet and enticing bourbon from nose to mouth to finish. It is simplistic in its complexity and can be enjoyed by both the bourbon connoisseur and novice drinkers alike. The cinnamon notes are crisp throughout and highlight this single barrel selection in every facet. The unique sweetness ranges from citrus to candy to honey and provides excellent balance overall. 

Rating: 4.00 Rickhouses

Juan: If this was a bottle that I owned, I would wait until the sun goes down on the last day of the work week and put on some Blues prior to cracking this bottle open. My suggestion is to go “neat” or drop an ice cube, if you want to calm the spice. The ability to sustain a bourbon fetish can be expensive, leaving us to justify many of our purchases as a means to an end. Jefferson’s Reserve Single Bourbon does not disappoint and is a given for any collection. This 100 proof pour ignited my taste buds and checked all the right boxes. The price point is slightly above the average but was worth every penny.

JP’s Stick Pick: Along with this highly recommended bourbon, I suggest enjoying a Drew Estate’s Deadwood Tobacco Company – Leather Rose cigar. Enjoy!



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