Here looking for a Johnny Drum review? Then you must know what you’re doing since Johnny Drum is not a well-known brand. Good for you! As you will see from the review below, there are two versions of this product. Knowledgeable consumers seek out both.
Johnny Drum Facts
A fun fact about this bourbon: the name came from the young men who enlisted in the Confederate Army but were too young to fight as soldiers. Those “Johnny Drums” were then assigned to the drum corps.
The Two Sides of Every Good Johnny Drum Review
As you may or may not know, two different bottles carry the Johnny Drum name: Johnny Drum Private Stock and Johnny Drum Black Label. Both bottles come to us from Willett Distillery, despite the name on the bottle stating, “Johnny Drum Distilling Company.” It’s alleged that this juice is sourced from Heaven Hill Distillery, just around the corner from Willett, but that has never been confirmed by the Kulsveen family.
Let’s start with the details about the Johnny Drum Private Stock. According to the Willett website, this bottling is labeled as a “small batch” product. But they do not release how many barrels were dumped in each batch. This whiskey was bottled at 50.5% alcohol for proof of 101.
Johnny Drum Black Label is also labeled as small-batch but without any designation of the size of the batch. Remember, the phrase “small batch” is an industry marketing term and has no legal definition or backing. The blend could be as small as two barrels or as many as you could imagine. Johnny Drum Black Label is bottled at 43 percent alcohol for proof of 86.
There is no mash bill or age released for either bottle.
Johnny Drum Black Label Review
We’ll start our Johnny Drum review with the Black Label, the more “entry-level” of the two offerings. A quick look at the bottle reminds us of Evan Williams Black Label. The bottle is the same shape, and the label has a similar design.
On the nose, we get a very pleasant, sweet maple flavor. We also notice lots of caramel and vanilla. There is some spice, which makes us presume there is rye in the mash bill.
On the palate, we get the aforementioned vanilla and even caramel apples. The longer it stays in your mouth, the more an oaky, almost smoky flavor comes through. This is an oily bourbon that you can really “chew” on.
The finish is a little light and short, but what do you expect from an 86-proof bourbon? Overall, we think this is a good bourbon for the money. If you spend in the low twenty-dollar range, this would be a good bottle for a daily sipper. In fact, it would make a decent bar decanter bourbon. Check out our wide selection of decanters to see which one would look best on your bar!
Johnny Drum Private Stock Review
Now let’s get to Private Stock. This is a pretty cool looking bottle. You can tell they upped the production value here. The bottle is squatty and round with an off-white label. There’s plenty of information on the label, too, but you’ll have to check that out for yourself. The bottle features a clean dipped copper-colored wax seal.
On the nose, oak makes its resounding return. It’s followed by sour apple and vanilla. It’s clear that the two bottles are related to each other, due to the consistent sour apple and oak notes.
This is not a delicate whiskey. On the palate, you get a flavor burst of caramel and vanilla, followed by tobacco and cinnamon. The flavors in this whiskey are richer and more balanced than the Black Label. This is a full-flavored whiskey.
On the finish, the smokiness makes its reappearance. We get a medium-long finish with a lingering sweetness. This is a much better “Kentucky hug” than the Black Label offers.
Overall, we like this bourbon a lot. It has a good nose that is somewhat unique. The palate offers a full-flavored experience, and the finish doesn’t leave you disappointed. In the low thirty-dollar price range this is a good option that you can sip neat or on ice.
The proof is high enough to make it a decent cocktail bourbon, but you might not want to waste it on an Old Fashioned.
If you’re out thinking about picking up a bottle of Johnny Drum Private Stock, don’t hesitate. At this price point, you won’t be disappointed.
A Few Review Excerpts From IG
Private Stock Reviews
“As soon as I opened the bottle, I smelled chocolate covered marshmallow eggs they sell during Easter” – @whiskeyiseverything
“Solid Sunday sipper • Another sub $40 gem, anyone else a JD fan?!” – @whiskeyforums
“WOW! What an under the radar gem.” – @shadowsarge
Black Label Reviews
“Very sweet with notes of honeysuckle and vanilla. I’d recommend it” – @hotbutteryrolls
“Johnny Drum Black Label has woody, vanilla and sweet notes on the front end, followed with a leathery/minty finish.” – @whiskey_lovers_society
Well, there you have it! Two bottles at very different price points, but both of them are worth picking up. If you need a great daily sipper or cocktail bourbon, go with the Johnny Drum Black Label for around $20.
Have you tried either of these? If so, which one is your favorite? Let us know in the comments below.