Launched in the summer of 2020, Ella Jones Colorado Straight Bourbon Whiskey comes to us from Family Jones, which as it turns out is a Colorado distillery and not a ‘70s R&B group. Family Jones puts a heavy emphasis on grain-sourcing, and Ella Jones is no different. The bourbon is made entirely from Colorado-grown grains, which shake out to a mash bill composed of 75% corn, 15% rye and 10% malted barley. After distillation, the spirit is aged for an average of three years in #3 char white oak barrels before being bottled at 94 proof.
It pours reddish-amber in color, and has what appears to be a fairly standard bourbon nose at first sniff, typified by creamy vanilla and barrel notes. But smell a little closer, and you’ll soon detect something a little more agricultural—sweet, mashed corn and moist, musty malt.
The bourbon is round and viscous on the tongue with a substantial body, and begins with light vanilla partnered to a surprisingly robust and earthy corn sweetness. The middle turns to nutty malt seasoned with a touch of rye spice, and the experience grows more astringent and heated toward the back with darkly sweet flavors of fruit leather. At the conclusion, those dried orchard fruit notes get tied up with earthy, nutty malt and the remnants of rye spice to deliver a satisfying, complex finish with plenty of heft.
Though the category does not yet exist, I’d nominate Ella Jones to be the first “agricultural bourbon.” It’s a worthy sipper whose experience feels much less like tasting various “notes” and much more akin to experiencing the grains themselves.
— 47% ABV