Reviews #178-180: Joseph Magnus Single Barrels 2019

I got into MGP single barrel bourbons right around the worst possible time as Smooth Ambler was skyrocketing in price, Blaum Bros OFK and Boone County single barrels were getting hard to come by and OKI was being discontinued. Thankfully I learned about Joseph Magnus single barrels in time to pick up a few of the Oak Liquor Cabinet Batch 2 earlier this year, I had passed on the first pick given the price and since I didn’t know what it was. So now it’s the end of the year and I’ve got my hands on 3 great Magnus picks and it felt like a side by side was in order.

Oak Liquor Cabinet Batch 3

Age: 12 years

Abv: 104 proof

Price: $119.99


Nose: Rich leather, sweet vanilla and caramel notes.

Taste: More leather, loads of caramel, vanilla and warm spice notes. A nice, oily mouthfeel.

Finish: Medium to long finish with caramel and warm spice notes.

9 - a favorite I always try to keep on my shelf

The Bourbon Enthusiast 2019 pick

Age: 13 years

Abv: 106 proof

Price: $115


Nose: A softer nose with butterscotch, vanilla and baking spice notes.

Taste: Strong, slightly tannic oak notes, sweet butterscotch and a good amount of baking spice. Good mouthfeel but the thinnest of the lot.

Finish: Medium length dry finish with oak and butterscotch notes.

8 - an excellent bottle I’d like to have at home

The Bourbon Cartel 2019 pick

Age: 12.5 years

Abv: 107.2 proof

Price: $150 (via charity donation)


Nose: Rich leather and oak notes with subtler vanilla and caramel.

Taste: Rich oak, more leather, some caramel and faint spice notes.Great, viscous mouthfeel.

Finish: Medium to long, warm and slightly dry with oak and spice notes balanced by sweet vanilla.

9 - a favorite I always try to keep on my shelf


I don’t know how to start this other than to say other than these were all great. I am all about MGP and Four Roses single barrels right now so it isn’t a huge surprise I enjoyed all these. The Bourbon Enthusiast pick is a shade too tannic/bitter for my taste but it is still great overall. It’s the only one of these that I didn’t get a backup bottle of. The Oak pick was the sweetest and leatheriest of the bunch, almost like licking caramel off a leather jacket but in a hot way. It had a surprising lack of oak notes and less spice than I expected. The Cartel pick was oaky and leathery with just enough sweet and spice to balance the whole thing.

While tasting through these 3 major flavor themes emerged. First was the rich leathery taste in the Oak Liquor Cabinet and Bourbon Cartel picks, second was the sticky sweet notes in the Oak Liquor Cabinet and Bourbon Enthusiast picks and lastly was the strong oak notes found in the Cartel and Enthusiast picks. Each of these bourbons really highlighted two of those themes and it was a lot of fun to taste barrels with such similar stats and really dig into those barrel by barrel flavor differences.

Full disclosure I was part of the group that picked the Oak Liquor Cabinet pick but there were several of us, we did the tastings independently and it was nearly unanimous that this was the best barrel of the lot. Unlike the Garrison Bros pick where I was vaguely leading the whole thing I feel comfortable giving a score on this pick but due to that and the charitable donation situation with the Cartel I decided to omit value rankings. Out of the 4 barrels we got to taste for the Oak pick this one was the best, the other two were of a similar quality to the Enthusiast pick but the 4th sample not good. It was super musty and had a very strange note that I couldn’t place but didn’t care for. If we can’t get another Magnus barrel lined up for early next year I’ll definitely get another bottle or two of this.

TL;DR: 12 year MGP is great and Magnus knows how to pick barrels

Just to set expectations with all the 10+ year MGP single barrels I’ve been drinking, the Four Roses series and BTAC hitting it’s going to be a parade of high scoring reviews from me for a bit. I’ll try and mix in a couple more accessible whiskies alongside some whiskies of more questionable quality but if I don’t get them in during December/January I’ll be sure to hit them hard in February to round out my score distribution a bit.


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