J.W. Dant Bourbon has a long history. Joseph W. Dant started making whiskey in 1836. The story is he could not afford a fancy copper still, so he started making his whiskey with a still made from a hollowed-out poplar log using only his choice grains and his own yeast. It became a good money-making enterprise and eventually, he bought one of those copper stills to make his whiskey. It remained a small operation in his lifetime, but he had seven sons, and one of those sons took over the family farm and distillery when he retired and expanded the operation.
The distillery closed down during Prohibition but came back afterwards as the Dant & Head Distillery. Schenley Distilleries purchased the brand and distillery in 1952. The plant manager at that time was a man named Newt Kook. He reminded me of a Booker Noe type personality and Schenley sent him around the country to sell J.W. Dant Bourbon. It worked and the brand grew under Schenley. In the late 1980s, Schenley was purchased by what came to be United Distillers. United Distillers sold the brand to Heaven Hill in 1993. Heaven Hill has done a very good job with keeping the brand flavor profile top-notched and the brand remains popular today. I consider it one of my bargain Bourbons – worth more than Heaven Hill charges for a bottle.
J.W. Dant Bottled-in-Bond Bourbon
Age: No Age Statement
Nose: Caramel apples with the apple being a tart green apple, sweet baking spices and oak.
Taste: Tart green apples, vanilla, white pepper and oak. When tasted with a dried cranberry, the spice moves far back into the background and a floral note of rosewater comes out with some sweet vanilla. When tasted with a pecan, the tart apples and butterscotch come out with more oak and less spice.
Finish: Medium long with oak and pepper spice. The cranberry holds the spice out until the finish, but it comes back strongly with an oak and pepper finish. The pecan shortened the finish with just a hint of pepper and lots of oak.
I am pairing this Bourbon with an Oliva Serie V cigar. I find the smoke to have notes of vanilla and dried fruit with a rich earthy tobacco flavor. The J.W. Dant Bourbon brings out more vanilla and adds a little pepper spice to the smoke. The smoke brings out the pepper and oak in the whiskey. A good pairing on a cold winter’s day.
Photos Courtesy of Rosemary Miller
January 26, 2023 at 4:41 am
It’s interesting that Newt Kook was able to pass himself off as a Booker Noe good ol’ boy. In reality, Newton Kook was an Austrian-Jewish immigrant who lived the American Dream. He was born in Austria, the son of Moses and Fannie Kook who immigrated to the US and raised Newton and the rest of their family in Jersey City. Newt’s father was a tailor in the New York garment district, and Newt became a lawyer in Jersey City. In 1940 he was still single and living in his parents’ household. At 5’8″ 240 pounds, he had the good ol’ boy physique, but his wits must have attracted Schenley to put this Jersey lawyer in charge of Dant. Newton was the key figure of Dant’s ads through the 1960s, and he passed away in Florida in 1979.