Great Jones Distillery Co.  – Bringing Whiskey Back to Manhattan

If you’ve been checking out the Great Drams site recently, you’ll see on our blogs that bourbon is very much the spirit of the day at the moment, and for good reason.

As you know, Scotch is what we tend to focus on here at Great Drams, but in truth, it’s all whiskey/whisky that we’re passionate about. I myself am more than partial to a dram or two of bourbon, as are countless others out there no doubt. One thing I feel that we are missing here in the UK, is a good selection of bourbon.

Obviously, we can’t produce bourbon here, but we can have it imported yet take a look in your local supermarket or off-licence, and you can likely already guess which bourbons and Tennessee whiskies will take pride of place on the shelves, before you even look. Now, I’m not knocking the bourbons we do get over here, I’m just saying that it would be nice to have a little more choice, especially considering some of the exceptional bourbons we’re seeing Stateside of late.

Great Jones for example, is a New York-based distillery specializing in bourbon, who produce exceptional whiskey and are bringing whiskey distillation back to Manhattan, and delivering it through the art deco, speakeasy style of experience you don’t seem to find in most places. Here’s my take on it.

New York’s First Distillery in Over a Century

We’ve seen some truly dark times over the years, yet for Americans, Prohibition had to be one of the most testing times in history.

From 1920 – 1933, alcoholic beverages were banned in the USA. This meant that they couldn’t be legally produced, nor could they be transported or sold. This didn’t mean that people stopped producing alcohol entirely, it just meant that illicit bootlegging operations were set up instead.

Following the lifting of Prohibition, while bourbon may have proved popular in the South, further North, it was out of fashion, and it took a while to return.

Now, more than a century since Manhattan’s last whiskey distillery closed its doors, thanks to Great Jones Distilling Co. bourbon is back in New York, and is bigger and better than ever!

Great Jones have set out to create a bourbon that is reminiscent of the Big Apple. All of the ingredients they source are 100% New York sourced. Made from rye, barley, and of course, corn that is grown in the Warwick Valley, before being cut with water sourced from the Catskills, it’s a true testament to the art of whiskey distillation.

Bringing Bourbon Back

New York is famous for many things, but whiskey isn’t one of them. The Great Jones Distillery Co. are looking to change that.

What I love about the distillery, is the fact that they’re fusing old with new. You can see the art deco influences throughout, yet the décor ties in perfectly with the rest of the distillery. It looks brand new and shiny, yet at the same time, if somebody told you it was several centuries old, you wouldn’t question it.

Not only do they provide New York’s very first whiskey distillery tour, Great Jones also have a Tasting Room Bar, and their own restaurant named ‘The Grid’. The restaurant uses local produce and makes perfect use of Great Jones whiskey, to offer a fresh take on classic dishes.

If for some obscene reason, you do decide that you’ve had enough whiskey, their Tasting Room Bar offers an assortment of classic cocktails, wine, and local beers, coupled with an all-day menu.

While Great Jones offer an array of experiences that I strongly suggest you check out if ever you’re in the Manhattan area, it’s the whiskey that caught my eye. In particular, it is their peated Scotch cask bourbon that I’m particularly intrigued with, and I’ll be talking about that in just a few moments.

The Great Jones Range

Yes, you can probably tell that I’m eager to talk about the Great Jones peated Scotch cask bourbon that they offer, but that’s certainly not all.

Great Jones currently have four whiskeys for sale, each one offering its own unique characteristics.

Great Jones Rye

The first whiskey I’ll be talking about in great detail today is the Great Jones Rye.

Crafted from ingredients grown in Warwick Valley, specifically, the legendary Black Dirt region, this is a whiskey designed to pay homage to New York’s hardiest grain.

Before corn became the primary ingredient in whiskey distillation, it was actually rye that was the grain of choice in America. Rye whiskey is very different to bourbon, which is made with a mash consisting primarily of corn. It has a taste and aroma that is more closely reminiscent of Scotch.

The Black Dirt region of the Warwick Valley was once home to a prehistoric lake. The soil is enriched with minerals and nutrients, helping to give the grains grown there a unique and spicy characteristic that you just don’t find in other parts of the country.

Cut with mountain water sourced from the Catskills Mountain, which too is rich in minerals, the whiskey produced here is spicy and complex.

Great Jones Rye whiskey is made from 100% New York grain rye. It’s 4 years of age and is aged in American oak barrels. It has a wonderful, crimson walnut colour and is a very reasonable 45% ABV.

On the nose, you should instantly pick up those spicy notes from the nutrient-enriched rye grain used in the mash. Closely following, fresh orchard fruits shine through, coupled by summer straw, and sticky date pudding.

On the palate, the unmistakable taste of vanilla shines through from the American oak barrels. This is complimented wonderfully by a hint of nutmeg, black pepper, and cinnamon. The robust flavours don’t end there, as rich malted chocolate then shines through, before being tied together wonderfully by burnt caramel notes.

The finish is medium in length, offering great mouthfeel from the tannins. There is a definite hint of raisin and baking spices, with a touch of warm apple cobbler and custard to finish.

Great Jones Straight Bourbon

Again, the ingredients grown in the Black Dirt region of the Warwick Valley help to give this bourbon a spicy edge. The mash this time is predominantly corn(80%), combined with rye(10%) and malted barley(10%) before being cut with that fantastic Catskills Mountain water.

The whiskey was aged for 4 years at the Black Dirt Distillery, in American Oak barrels, which is where the whiskies are sourced.

At 43% ABV it’s a wonderful sipper and goes down oh-so easily. It also has a gorgeous golden amber colour that almost looks like golden syrup.

On the nose there are plenty of sweet and fruity vanilla notes. There’s also plenty of cinnamon and brioche bread that is not too dissimilar from that of a rich French toast. Sniff again, and you should pick up a touch of white pepper and maple syrup. As it’s a low ABV, this dram is certainly light on the harsh ethanol notes you might expect from a cask finish.

On the palate, rich molasses and butterscotch are the dominant flavours here, though there is also a touch of hay. Again, sweet vanilla and cinnamon are present, complimented by spicy peppery notes and a sprinkling of buttery popcorn.

The finish is light and medium in length, offering a distinctly rich honey and maple syrup profile.

Great Jones Four Grain Bourbon

Great Jones Four Grain Bourbon is made from a mash containing, surprise, surprise, four grains. Obviously there’s corn as the primary ingredient with it being a bourbon, combined with malted barley, rye, and wheat.

Crafted in small batches, this bourbon is aged for 4 years in American oak casks and comes in at a throat-warming 45% ABV.

It’s a much darker bourbon than a lot of expressions out there, and has a deep orange/walnut brown colour.

On the nose, you really pick up those wheat notes, combined with buttery popcorn, marzipan, a touch of charred oak, and buttery shortbread. It’s not as sweet in aroma as the straight bourbon, though there is a fruity element there in the form of apricots.

On the palate, there isn’t as much influence from the grains as you might expect. There’s sweet butter and vanilla flavours, with a hint of salted caramel and toffee. Next you should get more sweetness in the form of brown sugar and pancakes, all topped off with a light and peppery finish.

The finish is medium in length, leaving a rich and slightly oily mouthfeel. Again, there are hints of sweet and salty popcorn, drizzled in salted butter to finish. There is also a murmur of oak wood lingering in the background, though some may struggle to pick this up.

Great Jones Peated Scotch Cask Bourbon

Finally, leaving the one I’m most excited about until last, we have the Peated Scotch Cask Bourbon.

Presented in a stunning limited edition gift box and available exclusively at their Manhattan distillery, this whiskey spent 7 years of its life in American oak barrels, before being transferred to peated Scotch casks, where it lay dormant for a further 2 years.

I love the concept of this whiskey because it’s almost like a fusion between bourbon and Scotch.

At 48% ABV, it’s the strongest of the range and has a gorgeous burnt toffee colour that helps give it a feel of luxury and decadence.

On the nose, you immediately get those smoky notes from the peat. It’s almost indicative of an Islay whisky. The smoky and peaty notes quickly disperse however, to be replaced by light and floral notes, with a hint of sweet vanilla oak. There is also a touch of crisp apples and pear drop sweets lurking in the shadows.

On the palate, it’s clean, crisp, and surprisingly fruity, with more orchard fruits coming through. This, however, is closely followed by mesquite smoke, hot chilli honey notes, tobacco, leather, and toasted marshmallows with buttery digestive biscuits. This is the ultimate campfire treat in liquid form.

The finish is lengthy, complex, and full-bodied, with wonderful mouthfeel. There’s toffee, there’s honey, there’s an earthiness and smokiness about it, with a slightly spicy finish. This one is really special.

Looking for rare, award-winning, limited-edition, unique, and delicious whisky with similar bourbon-like profiles to those listed above? If so, then look no further than and be sure to check out  the huge selection of fantastic whisky products that we have available.

Here you’ll find all manner of different whiskies, primarily Scotch, to suit all palates and budgets, that you simply can’t get on the high street or your local off-licence. We also have an extensive array of whisky/whiskey-related information so you can learn more about your favourite drams, how they’re made, and the distilleries that produce them.

Whether you’re looking for a smooth and creamy Lowlands whisky, a heavily peated, smoky dram from Islay, a smooth and fruity Speyside expression, or anything in between, here at Great Drams we’ve got whisky from all regions, to suit all preferences.

Tags: Great Jones Distillery CoManhattan
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My name is Greg, and I’m a brand strategy consultant, writer, speaker, host and judge specialising in premium spirits. My mission is to experience, share and inspire with everything great about whisky, whiskey, gin, beer and fine dining through my writing, my brand building and my whisky tastings.

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