An Ode to J.W. Dant Bottled-In-Bond

J.W. Dant is the large plastic bottle you’ve ignored for years. It sits on the bottom shelf of liquor stores across the country. At $29 for a 1.75L it has to be trash, right? This is one of my favorite bottles to include in a blind tasting. Everyone is shocked when they taste and find out its a bottom shelf(er).

Taking it way back, J.W. Dant (the man) was a distiller in the 1830’s. He was known for using a log still when he didn’t have the money for a copper still. Dant would grow his own grain. (He was ahead of his time on this estate-grown bourbon, apparently) He also built his own cooperage. In 1870, the Dants built a modern distillery. J.W. and his sons run the distillery until they’re shut down by prohibition. During prohibition, Dant used the A Ph Stitzel warehouses to store their whiskey. Stitzel even purchased some of the barrels to use in their “medicinal” products. We’re going to fast forward the story to 1987. Although, you can read more of the history here.

In 1987, United Distillers acquires Schenley. United Distillers sells the J.W. Dant brand to Heaven Hill in 1993. I’m sure you’ve enjoyed the history lesson but there is a point here. J.W. Dant bottles will vary greatly by their DSP.

  • DSP-IND-2; Schenley Distillery; Lawrenceburg, IN
  • DSP-KY-1; Heaven Hill Distillery (Louisville/”New Bernheim”)
  • DSP-KY-2; Heaven Hill Distillery (Old Bernheim)
  • DSP-KY-16; Stitzel Weller Distillery
  • DSP-KY-31; Heaven Hill Distillery (Bardstown)
  • DSP-KY-113; Ancient Age (Buffalo Trace) Distillery

Deciphering the DSP codes on J.W. Dant is more art than science. You’ll see bottles distilled at Old Bernheim and then bottled at Stitzel-Weller. There are bottles distilled by the Ancient Age Distillery (Buffalo Trace) and bottled in Indiana at the Schenley Distillery. J.W. Dant also has a pre-fire DSP-KY-31 offering. I’ve even seen a California DSP popup. Today, the whiskey is distilled at New Bernheim (DSP-KY-1) and bottled in Bardstown (DSP-KY-31).

Current J.W. Dant Bottled-In-Bond is 4-years old and 100 proof. While Heaven Hill Bottled-In-Bond had a cult following Dant seems left behind. It is as great of a bargain. Yes, it’s two years younger than the old HHBIB. But, I think that helps highlight more brown sugar notes and less char and spice. I put this to a test in a recent blind tasting. I lined up J.W. Dant BIB, the new Heaven Bottled in Bond and E.H. Taylor Small Batch Bottled In Bond. The Dant and Heaven Hill were the clear winners. Dant was the slight favorite of the two. E.H. Taylor (which is a favorite of mine) tasted watered down in comparison.

I’ll wrap this post with a challenge. Grab a bottle of Dant. Line up a blind tasting. Come back here to report the results. Am I the only one that thinks this is the best value on the market today? All Wild Turkey 101 lovers can leave their hate-filled comments below.

22 comments

    My name is bikerbill and l have not try J.W.Dant bourbon yet, but I am going to the liquor store to buy me a bottle of J.W.Dant bourbon and l am going to line it with my Hancock,Blade and Bow and E.H. Taylor’s for a blind taste. I will get back to you after the taste test.

    I enjoyed the article, it brought back memories of my father who drank Dant for most of his life. I had thought about it from reading your reviews. Now I’m motivated to go buy a bottle.

    Blake your post is really timely. Last fall I found a 200ml Bonded Dant with a state of GA tax stamp still attached and a bottle stamp from ’89. Combo of DSP-KY-2 distilled and DSP-KY-16 bottled. Opening and sharing it tonight for my birthday. Hoping it will drink as well as I anticipate…cheers!

    I would love too but not available within 200 miles of my market in south Florida. One of the hardest things to find is good affordable bourbon among all the fancy priced bottles. Jim beam prohibition and ezra are my favorites under $20

    I would love to hear a comparison to Evan Williams BiB..it is an even comparison price wise and is my favorite bottom shelfer.

    J W Dant is great bourbon especially for the price. I usually cannot find near Chicago. Whenever I visit Kentucky I pick up a few bottles for me and other Dant lovers.

    I’ve tried it once and, I agree, it’s a great value. Unfortunately, it’s not available here in No. Calif. Perhaps Seelbach’s will carry it one day. Hint, hint…

    I tried it years ago, and although not “wowed,” it was respectable juice. Your article has induced me to pick up a bottle, and compare it with my current “bottom-shelf” BIB — Evan Williams, White Label (also 4 yrs. old), which I can get at Total Wines for about $15, a steal IMO. I’m in NYC, so it’s impossible to find Heaven Hill BIB, and I’m not planning to come to KY anytime soon. LOL.

    I found a lone dusty (literally covered in dust but not a “pre-fire ‘dustie’”) glass liter bottle sitting on a shelf at a local store near me just over a year ago. I had never tried it but recognized the name and bottom as something of a “secret”. One of those whispers you hear faintly from the seasoned whiskey-famous “influencers”, dare I say it. I picked it up and saw it was $19.99. I bought it then and there with no questions. The store owner was slightly confused at why I bought it because it had been sitting there for he-couldn’t-remember-how-long. I never cracked it open though because I’ve never seen it again at any store near me. And he’s never gotten more back in stock. I just made a trip to Alabama, though and found it far more readily available which gave me the green light to open my bottle once I got home. Immediate brown sugar and peanuts. I love this bottle. Definitely a Keeper Of The Shelf.

    Interesting to see J.W. Dant in a new article. My father-in-law told me a few years ago about a bourbon he and his brother-in-law always enjoyed, but had not seen in stores for awhile. It was J.W. Dant. I was curious and did some research online as to if it was still available and if I could find him a bottle. I ended up emailing the distillery (not sure of the name now) and they sent me a list of where in NJ I might find it. I checked a local liquor store and the owner said he did carry it, but didn’t usually keep any in stock anymore as it did not sell, but could order it for me. I first ordered a bottle and my father-in-law was pleasantly surprised. I also enjoyed it very much and since then I have ordered it a case at a time for myself and my father-in-law (and others) to split.

    Thanks for now clearing shelves of JW Dant. Dick. After hearing Bernie Lubbers on something, I went and bought all the HH BIB products I could find. Dant is my favorite. Maybe even over the HH 6yr BIB although I haven’t done them blind.

    I had a number of JWD bottles in the early ’80s. Probably from the late ’70s. It was a good pour.

    I don’t think I have seen it in 30 years. I’ll start scanning the bottom shelves.

    So, when I was a young Navy LT(JG) on my first ship, USS TURNER JOY (DD-951) (BTW now a museum ship in Bremerton, WA), we were going into a shipyard overhaul and the ship had to emptied of ammunition, classified material and medical supplies. I was walking by the Executive Officer’s (XO – 2nd in command) stateroom one day and he called me in. There were 3 bottles of J.W. Dant bourbon on his desk. US Navy ships are “dry” but back in those days Sick Bay had “medicinal” alcohol to give to the crew after a cold and wet topside evolution (like underway refueling in heavy seas). That practice was ending then so as we were offloading our medical supplies we directed to destroy the “medicinal” alcohol. The XO told me to sign this form that was also on his desk. As I was starting to sign it I asked: “XO what am I signing for”? He said you are signing that you witnessed the destruction of this medicinal alcohol. As a young and naive lad, I said: “But XO, the bottles are right here and they are full”. He glared at me and said: “Damnit Bob, sign the g-dam form and I’ll pour you a drink at the next party at my house.” Suffice to say I signed the form and did, in fact, get a drink of J.W. Dant at the next Wardroom party. J.W. Dant has had a soft spot in my heart ever since. I’ll have to pick up a bottle for old times sake.

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