I was recently contacted by Sam Brown, a descendent of J.T.S. Brown. He is getting his family back into the Bourbon business and reviving the old Joe Louis Bourbon brand. I am familiar with the brand. In the United Distillers Archive, there was an old scrapbook of Schenley labels from the late 1940s and early 1950s. One of the labels was for Joe Louis Bourbon. It had a tagline quote from Louis saying something along the lines of “I don’t advise anyone to drink whiskey but if they are going to drink whiskey, drink the best.” I found it interesting as it is a mixed message about whiskey, but as an athlete at the time, I would say he was taking a gamble to allow his name to be associated with whiskey. A portion of the profits from this modern version of the brand goes to support Golden Gloves Boxing.
Brown is looking to build or purchase a distillery in Kentucky and for this enterprise. In the meantime, he is getting his whiskey made at the Davis Valley Distillery in Rural Retreat, Virginia. It is distilled in a pot-still. The Bourbon is made with 65% corn, 15% rye and 20% malted barley. It is two years old but tastes much older. I suspect a low barrel entry proof has increased the sweet barrel notes. Matt and I sat down and tasted this Bourbon and here are our notes.
Joe Louis Champion of Them All Bourbon
Age Two Years Old
- Mike: Corn forward, vanilla, dried apricots and oak.
- Matt: A young whiskey with corn, vanilla and oak.
- Mike: Corn, vanilla, a little orange zest, ginger spice and oak. Tasted with a dried cranberry enhances the ginger and adds a little white pepper but reduces the apricot flavors. Tasted with a pecan and more oak comes forward and the vanilla becomes more caramel with a note of white pepper spice.
- Matt: A vanilla crème latte, sweet corn with orange zest and ginger spice and a little oak. The dried cranberry made it a very creamy vanilla with a touch of orange zest. The pecan gave it a corn pudding flavor with sweet corn and vanilla.
- Mike: Short but very nice. A little oak and ginger spice. The dried cranberry gave it a lingering orange zest note in the finish. The pecan made the finish longer with lots of sweet oak wood and ginger spice.
- Matt: Short with sweet oak and spice and some lingering vanilla sweetness. The dried cranberry added some lingering orange zest notes and cardamom spice. The pecan made the finish longer with lots of oak with lingering vanilla and cardamom spice.
I would pair this young Bourbon with a cigar that is lighter in flavor. I think a Nat Sherman Metropolitan cigar with its light vanilla and sweet tobacco flavors would pair well with this Bourbon without overpowering the flavors in the Bourbon while the Bourbon would bring out some spice notes in the cigar smoke.
Photos Courtesy of Rosemary Miller
January 26, 2022 at 7:36 pm
DSP-KY-35 in Lawrenceburg aka Bonds Mill aka Old Joe bottled Joe Louis bourbon in the early 50s. My grandfather was the manager at Old Joe at the time and brought Joe home to meet my uncles (my aunts didn’t care!).
I have a few links to stories still on the web, but physical JL memorabilia is hard to come by. I have never seen a bottle (empty or otherwise) for sale, but I have picked up a few magazine ads.