According to Heaven Hill “this Bourbon is named after Joseph Washington Dant, a Kentucky distiller who during the 1830s allegedly fashioned a still from a hollowed out tree trunk.” Whether that is more marketing or more truth, what is true, is that J.W. Dant founded his first distillery in 1836. Retiring in the 1880s, the J.W. Dant company eventually became controlled by his two sons Joseph Bernard Dant and George Washington Dant. Eventually, the company was acquired, and then passed through several hands before being ultimately owned by Heaven Hill in 1993.
The bottle carries with it an old-timey feel, displaying a basic white label and the company trademark which was initially registered in 1934.
The sip opens up with a subtle bouquet of aromas. Light honey and tobacco leaf lead the way followed by additional subtle scents of vanilla, brown sugar, and oak. Gentle in nature, the scents have a hard time lifting off. While pleasant, the nose leaves a lacking feeling more than anything else.
A sweet honeycomb note and a light rye spice are immediately noticeable. Delving deeper reveals light tobacco, subtle vanilla, and a white peppercorn note. The faintest hints of brown sugar and caramel pop up to add even more sweetness to the mix. It’s a nice combination but not quite as forthright as I was hoping for considering the cast of characters present for flavor notes.
The finish ends the sip on a straightforward and to-the-point note. Light rye spice jumps out first, followed by honey and oak notes in rapid succession. A flash of brown sugar jumps to the front before immediately being replaced by a peppery spice that lingers for a few moments before fading away. It’s consistent with the rest of the sip, and a suitable ending as a result.
As I pointed out in my review of J.T.S. Brown Bottled in Bond, Heaven Hill embraces the bottled in bond concept more than any other major Kentucky bourbon distillery. It sometimes feels like they're trying to produce a bottled in bond whiskey for everyone.
This is exemplified through their ongoing various special releases such as the Old Fitzgerald Bottled in Bond limited edition series, to their plethora of ongoing standard bottled in bond releases ranging from corn whiskey (Mellow Corn) to rye whiskey (Rittenhouse) to their six bourbon bottles including T.W. Samuels, J.W. Dant, Evan Williams, Heaven Hill, Henry McKenna, and J.T.S. Brown.
Comparing J.W. Dant to J.T.S. Brown Bottled in Bond and Evan Williams Bottled in Bond is like splitting hairs. Like most bourbons at Heaven Hill, they all share the same mashbill, are aged for relatively the same amount of time, and are not designated to be one final brand when they enter the barrel, instead determining what flavor profile the barrel best aligns too as they barrels age and ultimately when they are pulled and dumped. In J.W. Dant’s case, the flavor profile tends to be just a touch sweeter than the others. Does it dramatically differentiate itself from the others? No, not at all. Instead, there are subtle differences that set it apart from its Heaven Hill counterparts. Ultimately, J.W. Dant does little to differentiate itself from the current marketplace, instead being content blending into the middle of the pack.
Like most other bottled in bond bourbons from Heaven Hill, J.W. Dant is delivered with a price tag that is squarely aimed at the cost-conscious consumer. Much like Evan Williams and J.T.S Brown, J.W. Dant is priced at an incredibly consumer friendly $15. Like J.T.S. Brown, the sip doesn’t quite reach the same level as Evan Williams Bottled in Bond, but it comes pretty close. There’s no reason to drag this out ; J.W. Dant Bottled in Bond is an excellent value to consumers and carries a price tag that is slowly becoming extinct in the world of bourbon.
J.W. Dant follows in the footsteps of other value-based bottled in bond bourbons from Heaven Hill, delivering a no-frills pour that everyone can afford.
Much like J.T.S. Brown Bottled in Bond and Evan Williams Bottled in Bond, J.W. Dant Bottled in Bond is a brand whose flavor profile is as steady as they come. It never strives to be more than what it is, instead blending into the swelling sea of average bourbons in the marketplace. That said, it’s also a bourbon lover’s bourbon, full of history, and carries it proudly on its shoulders, right down to the plain and simple bottle that looks like it could have been plucked right out of the early part of last century. It affords fans of value-based Heaven Hill bottled in bond bourbons one more variation to choose from, and ultimately carries on the tradition of making bourbon accessible to everyone. In some respects, this is exactly what all bourbons should strive for.