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There’s no shortage of whiskey releases for bourbon lovers to keep track of. Many of the most sought after come from distilleries in Kentucky. But bourbon is America’s spirit, not Kentucky’s spirit, and the state doesn’t have a monopoly on beloved — and luxury priced — annual releases. For Brooklyn’s Widow Jane, that special series is called the Vaults, and the 2022 bottling recently went on the market in October.
This is the fourth release in Widow Jane’s Vaults series, which focuses on blending the oldest and most rare bourbons in the company’s stocks. Each of the barrels used in the blend this year were straight bourbon whiskeys selected by former master distiller Lisa Wicker (who left Widow Jane this year to return to Kentucky after five years with the brand).
If there’s an empty hole on your home bar’s whiskey shelf for a sipping bourbon, or you just appreciate a spirit with a lot of age on it, then this limited release is something to keep your eyes peeled for.
ABV: 49.5 percent (99 proof)
Where it’s available: Limited 2,000 case release available at select sellers and online
How Widow Jane The Vaults 2022 Is Made
The 2022 release uses 14- to 19-year-old bourbons compared to last year’s Vaults offering that used 15- to 17-year-old bourbons. It’s also finished in Missouri Ozark oak casks instead of Adirondack oak casks. Like all Vaults releases, this one is non-chill filtered.
Like many upstart whiskey brands, Widow Jane sourced and blended whiskey until its own distillate (including from non-GMO heritage corn like Baby Jane) aged. Those whiskeys are some of the best New York whiskey you can buy. The Vaults, with a focus on age and rarity, sticks with sourced barrels. The blend of straight bourbons from Indiana and Tennessee gets Widow Jane’s signature dose of limestone water from the historic Rosendale Mines in upstate New York 100 miles north of Brooklyn. Though the mine is now retired, half of the cement used in North America used Rosendale cement in 1891, including for structures like the Brooklyn Bridge and Washington Monument.
According to Widow Jane, the water that has filtered into the caverns after mining operations ended is uniquely sweet and high in minerals. I’m no water sommelier — please reach out if you are and have strong opinions on this specific New York water being used. I have, however, heard plenty of people talk about how important the water is. New Yorkers have a tendency to say it’s what makes their bagels and pizza crust so good. I’ve even sampled Kentucky limestone water bottled exclusively for people who want to water down their Kentucky bourbon with Kentucky water.
I can’t speak to what Widow Jane’s whiskey would taste like without the Rosendale mine water, but I can say that whatever the brand is doing certainly results in great bourbon.
What Widow Jane The Vaults 2022 Tastes Like
This bourbon doesn’t shy away from the oak. That’s apparent by the color alone without even taking a sip. It would make a fine addition to any whiskey collection that just so happens to be ordered from darkest to lightest.
The nose and palate confirm what your eyes take in. Vanilla and lightly tannic toasted wood flavors hit first, followed by leather and cinnamon notes. A lasting sweetness comes through shortly after that balances it out and smooths the finish. It’s a touch hot at 99 proof, but not in a way that’s so overwhelming that it can’t be enjoyed neat.
Why You Should Add Widow Jane The Vaults 2022 to Your Bar Cart
Annual special releases are fun to keep on the bar and bring down when you want to show off a bit. It’s even better when you keep up with the releases and can do comparison tastings later on. The Vaults is no different. Tasting through the evolution of the brand’s highest profile series — especially with this being the last year with Wicker at the helm — is something to look forward to in years to come.