Joseph Magnus Cigar Blend Bourbon Review Batch 131

I have heard about Joseph Magnus Cigar Blend Bourbon and it has been on my wish-list to try for a long time. Earlier this year I won a raffle and won the option to purchase Batch 131. I was delighted! So, I’ll grab a Glencairn and get to “work” on this Joseph Magnus Cigar Blend Bourbon review of Batch 131. Spoiler alert…it’s really good! And I’ve heard that older versions are even better. But Nancy Fraley (info below) says that the newer releases (batches 250+) will be as close to the original original 14 batches that have ever been made.

Joseph Magnus Cigar Blend Bourbon is the brainchild of Nancy Fraley, a world renown Master Blender hired to collaborate with the Joseph Magnus team on some of their products. She is responsible for the creation and continued guidance of Joseph Magnus Cigar Blend Bourbon.

Each “Batch” of cigar blend is produced from one Armagnac cask which is then assigned its sequential batch number. But here is where the Joseph Magnus Cigar Blend gets more complicated. Each batch comes from a Coupe Mere (Mother Batch) that is blended together and then put into Armagnac casks for finishing. Sometimes the Coupe Mere is small and only goes into one cask and yields only one batch. But often, the Coupe Mere is blended from enough barrels of bourbon that it fills up to 7 Armagnac casks, in which case, it would yield 7 batches. (see “Notes and History” near the bottom of the page for more detailed info).

Series: Cigar Blend series – Batch 131
Classification: Finished Straight Bourbon Whiskey
Finished in: Armagnac, Sherry, and Cognac Casks
Age: NAS but rumored to be 9 yr (with some 14 – 16 yr, and some 20 yr)
Proof: 114.24
Proof Designation: Barrel Proof
Filtered Status: Non-Chill Filtered
Mash bill: NAS but rumored to be a blend of 4 bourbons:
9 yr MGP 60% Corn, 36% Rye, 4% Malted Barley
14 – 16 yr Barton 74% Corn, 18% Rye, 8% Malted Barley
20 yr MGP 75% Corn, 21% Rye, 4% Malted Barley
10 yr Joseph Magnus Triple Cask 75% Corn, 21% Rye, 4% Malted Barley
Distillery: Undisclosed distilleries in Kentucky & Indiana
Company: Jos. A. Magnus & Co.
Bottled By: Jos. A. Magnus & Co.
Distilled/Aging Location: Holland, Michigan
Release Date: Ongoing beginning in November 2016
MSRP: $179
Secondary Market: $200 – $400
Availability: Low/Rare

Joseph Magnus Cigar Blend Bourbon review batch 131
Joseph Magnus Cigar Blend Bourbon Review Batch 131

My tasting reviews are unique in that I include the notes of several well-known whiskey critics. The hope is that this format will help me and others to explore and expand their tasting experience. After you have taken your own tasting notes, read the reviews and see if there is a flavor note that others discerned that now you can detect as well.


After swirling the glass, beads begin to form on the crown after about 8 seconds, the legs begin to form and drop after about 15 seconds, and they reach the bowl of the glass after about 34 seconds.


Toffee, caramel corn, fig, orange or orange peel, sweet oak, hint of banana, pecans, leather, tobacco, graham cracker, nutmeg and strangely, rum.

Note: I could only find one other review of batch 131 so I included some other batch review notes which may or may not be representative of the batch I am reviewing (batch 131).

Other Reviewer’s Perceptions

The Bourbon Culture: The nose on this is dripping with aged oak notes and furniture polish. There is this sort of perfect sweetness that accompanies it as the scents show off this sort of dark and mysterious personality. The fruits are concentrated and dry. Almost earthy. Figs, dates and caramelized apples can all be pinpointed. There is a melted butter aspect that reminds me of MGP bourbon. — His notes are for batch 39

ADHD Whiskey: Fruit cocktail: cherries, peaches, pineapple, some dark fruits, black cherry, prunes, dates, a tiny hint of sulphur. The nose is very, very good. It smells like a glorious finished bourbon. — His notes are for batch 131

The Whiskey Ramble: Decadent butterscotch & toffee. Dark brown sugar, Raisinets, Fig Newtons, and bourbon barrel aged vanilla extract. Blueberry/blackberry medley emerges over time. — The notes are for batch 97


Caramel, mocha, mild banana bread, toasted barrel, mild baking spices, toasted pecans, sweet oak, caramelized sugar, a hint of vanilla, molasses, nutmeg, dark fruits, leather, tobacco.

Other Reviewer’s Perceptions

The Bourbon Culture: There flavor intensity in this dram is real. Loads of oak, old leather and rich tobacco keep steering me towards the opinion that this has aged for a while. Great citrus peel and black cherry flavors are delicious to find and add a nice contrast to the older elements. But there is this spice that really comes through that makes you realize that either the rye content is high within or it’s a finishing barrel that held a once-spicy liquid.

ADHD Whiskey: I like this way, waaay more than I remembered. I think this is really friggin’ good. It’s thick, it’s oily, it’s coating the mouth really well. It’s dark fruit but it’s a bit sharp, that would be more like a blackberry note. Cocoa and coffee. This is batch 131 and it is very good. But batch 66 is ridiculously better.

The Whiskey Ramble: Thick and coating; the barrel finishes impact the texture. Barrel char, molasses, and tobacco. Butterscotch and dates give way to a tannic backbone. Prunes and raisins with subsequent sips.


Moderately long finish with caramel corn, baking spices, tobacco, cocoa, a hint of vanilla and banana bread, sherry.00

Other Reviewer’s Perceptions

The Bourbon Culture: A very intense finish that goes on forever. The high-rye traits are more noticable now than ever. On top of the moutain of tannins, there are still citrus peel, herbal notes and even a bit of botanical notes. That’s gotta be either the rye talking or an earthiness of the finishing barrel.

DHD Whiskey: na

The Whiskey Ramble: Lingering tobacco and oak with building spice akin to red pepper flakes. Like licking a charred stave in a humidor room.


This is full, viscous and rich on the mouthfeel. Very pleasant!

The Burn

4 out of 5. This means that the burn from the alcohol is a bit lower (5% to 9%) than what I would expect it to be. I would guess this to be around 105 proof, not 114.24 proof (not that there are many 105 proof bourbons out there!).

Tasting Summary

The Joseph Magnus Cigar Blend Batch 131 is a fabulous pour with very interesting, complex flavors that are nicely balanced between sweet, spicy, fruity, savory, and tannic. It’s a little spendy, but in my opinion, it is worth the price. I’ll buy a back-up if I get lucky enough to come across one.

My Rating

The higher the score the better the whiskey is in my opinion. For reference, my best rated bottle so far is the George T. Stagg 2022 (138.7p) with a score of 9.7.

Score TypeScoreExamples
Likability Score8.21.0 – 10.0
Availability Score21-Rare, 2-Hard to Find, 3-A Little Hunting, 4-Easy to Find
My Tasting Notes

A blank version of this tasting notes wheel is available in both a color and a black & white version in the member’s area.

Joseph Magnus Cigar Blend Batch 131 Tasting Notes
Notes and History

Jos. A. Magnus & Co. was originally founded in Cincinnati, Ohio in 1892 by Joseph A. Magnus. During that period, he became well known for his high-end whisky Murray Hill Club Whiskey. But in 1918 it was permanently closed due to prohibition.

Nearly 100 years later his great-grandsons found a 122 year old bottle of the original whiskey that their great-grandfather had produced. They gave samples from the famed bottle to industry experts to try to re-create the original flavor profile, and in 2015 the company was re-launched with its original name Jos. A. Magnus & Co. Famed Master Blender Nancy Fraley was hired to help craft the modern-day version of the original Murry Hill Club Whiskey and their standard Joseph Magnus Bourbon finished in Oloroso Sherry, Pedro Ximénez Sherry, and Cognac casks.

Nancy “The Nose” Fraley is a highly respected Master Blender who has worked as a consultant for many brands and has expertise with whiskey, rum, cognac, brandy, and tequila. One of her particular loves is enjoying a pipe or cigar with an Old World Cigar Blend Cognac. So, in late 2015 or early 2016 she began working on a bourbon inspired cigar blend, resulting in the first Joseph Magnus Cigar Blend Bourbon being released in late 2016.

The key to Nancy’s recipe blending is to create a large Coupe Mere, or Mother Blend, by combining a number of barrels of bourbon into a larger batch, and then finish the blended bourbon in Armagnac casks. Armagnac casks are larger than bourbon barrels, averaging either 300 liters or 400 liters in size. It takes about 2 ½ – 3 bourbon barrels to fill one Armagnac cask.

By blending the Coupe Mere, if the flavor profile is too sweet, she can add more dry, spicy, or tannic bourbon. If it is too tannic or dry, she can add a sweeter bourbon or some of the standard Joseph Magnus Triple Cask which is finished in relatively sweet Sherry and Cognac casks. This is how Nancy can adjust the flavors to get to the profile that she wants.

Each Coupe Meres therefore is essentially a “master batch” blend that was finished in varying sizes of Armagnac casks and produced enough bourbon to fill anywhere from 1 to 6 casks. The Coupe Mere would be the master blend, but each individual Armagnac finishing cask would be considered the actual batch that each release is numbered after.

The original Coupe Meres were poured into a single Armagnac cask, so one Coupe Mere yielded one batch (one barrel). But, by Coupe Mere #11 she increased the size of the Coupe Mere so that it filled four Armagnac casks and therefore yielded 4 batches. So, at this point, one Coupe Mere produced four batches. Then, at Coupe Mere #14 she increased the Coupe Mere size again, this time to yield enough bourbon to fill 6 Armagnac casks. And with minor variations, the Coupe Mere size remains the same to this day (2024).

Joseph Magnus Cigar Blend Coupe Meres & Batches

Below is a breakdown of produced Coup Mere blends and their batches (releases). Visit The Bourbon Culture for a comprehensive breakdown and explanation of the Joseph Magnus Cigar Blend production. The list below is a brief summary of their extensive research.

Coupe Meres #1 – #10 yielded 1 each 300-liter Armagnac Cask
Released as Batches #1 – #10
Batch #1 was released around November 2016
Batch #2 was released around May 2017

Coupe Meres #11 – #13 yielded 4 each 400-liter Armagnac Casks
Released as Batches #11 – #22
Each Coupe Mere yielded 4 Batches (barrels)

Coupe Meres #14 – #31 yielded mostly 6 each 400-liter Armagnac Casks, but there were a few variations in batch and Coupe Mere sizes.
Released as Batches #23 – #111
Each Coupe Mere yielded 6 Batches (barrels)

Batches #112 – #250+
Beginning sometime in 2023, 2 Coupe Meres were used to create 12 batches (barrels) at a time.

Joseph Magnus Cigar Blend Mash Bills

All of the Joseph Magnus Cigar Blend releases are a blend of 3 or 4 bourbons that are then finished in Armagnac casks. Below is a list of batches and what is believed to be the bourbons used in each Coup Mere.
Thanks to The Bourbon Culture for their detailed research on this topic!

Batches 1 – 14
are rumored to be a blend of 4 bourbons with these specs:
• 9 year MGP 60C 36R 4MB
• 9 year MGP 60C 36R 4MB
• 18 year MGP 75C 21R 4MB
• 10 year Joseph Magnus Triple Cask 75C 21R 4MB

Batches 15 – 18
are rumored to be a blend of 4 bourbons with these specs:
• 11 year old Barton 74C 18R 8MB
• 13 year MGP 60C 36R 4MB
• 20 year MGP 75C 21R 4MB
• Joseph Magnus Triple Cask 75C 21R 4MB

Batches 19 – 22
are rumored to be a blend of 3 bourbons with these specs:
• 11 year old Barton 74C 18R 8MB
• 20 year MGP 75C 21R 4MB
• Joseph Magnus Triple Cask 75C 21R 4MB

Batches 23 – 98
are rumored to be a blend of 3 bourbons with these specs:
• 11 to 14 year old Barton 74C 18R 8MB
• 20 year MGP 75C 21R 4MB
• Joseph Magnus Triple Cask 75C 21R 4MB

Batches 99 – 249
are rumored to be a blend of 4 bourbons with these specs:
• 9 year MGP 60C 36R 4MB
• 14 to 16 year old Barton 74C 18R 8MB
• 20 year MGP 75C 21R 4MB
• Joseph Magnus Triple Cask 75C 21R 4MB

Batches 250 – ?? (beginning March 2024)
are rumored to be a blend of 4 bourbons with these specs:
• 11 year MGP 60C 36R 4MB
• 16 year old Barton 74C 18R 8MB
• 20 year MGP 75C 21R 4MB
• Joseph Magnus Triple Cask 75C 21R 4MB

Nancy Fraley says that the 250+ batches will be as close to the original 14 batches that have ever been made.

Notes From Nancy Fraley

I found this comment from Nancy Fraley on a Reddit post dated about August 2023:
Master Blender Nancy Fraley in the house. Hope I’m not too late to the conversation! Great review, and I’m thrilled that you enjoyed your batch. :-)

So, I want to clear up what seems to be some confusion out there. The first 14 batches of Cigar Blend were only made from MGP stock, namely, 9 year old MGP 36% rye Bourbon, together with some 18 year old MGP 21% rye Bourbon. Well, the then owners of Magnus had not bought enough of the 9 year old 36% Bourbon, so we had to buy some stock to bridge the gap until more 9 year old 36% rye Bourbon stock came on line. Thus, JMCB batch #15 was when I first started using some 11 year old Barton’s in the blend. I believe that by the batches in the mid-20’s, the 9 y.o. MGP was completely out, so the majority of each Cigar Blend between around batch 30 to 97 is Barton’s, plus some 20 y.o. MGP. The Barton’s was never meant to remain a major component of CB, and was just meant to bridge the gap.”

By batch #98, I finally had some more 9 year old 36% MGP stock to use, so ever since, I’ve been using that stock again. And so I’ve been using less and less of the Barton’s ever since, and pretty soon, I will be completely out of it, and the label will eventually go back to saying “distilled in Indiana,” and not “distilled in Indiana and KY” as it is now.

Also, I’ve had a lot of people ask me why there is no mention of the use of KY Bourbon on the labels of those early batches from 15 until somewhere around the batches in the 30’s. Well, since labels are extremely expensive and are always bought in bulk, the TTB gives distilleries a little leeway to use up the old labels before having to commit to the new labels. Thus, you won’t see the “distilled in KY” component on any Cigar Blends between 15 and those 30 something batches, but trust me, I was already putting a fair amount of Barton’s into those batches! You can also see that from about the batches in the mid-20’s until about 97, the proof just keeps going up and up, until around batch #66 we end up with a proof of 132!

Thus, the current batches are actually much closer to the original 14 batches of CB, since these days I’m back to using 9 year old 36% MGP, with a little bit of 16 year old Barton’s, and the 20 y.o. MGP as the cherry on top. Thus, your batch #130 is much closer to the original 14 batches than to the batches between 25 and 97.

As you noted, I too have heard people say that “any batch after ### has lost it’s magic. I can’t speak for what people are tasting, but I will say that the new batches are much, much closer to the original 14 batches in both age and components. Maybe folks like the Barton’s stock much better than the MGP, although they didn’t realize it was Barton’s? I don’t know, but I do find it very interesting.

Finally, I have had some health challenges over the past couple of years, and I stopped my tasting notes at batch #111 because I just physically couldn’t do it anymore. It usually takes me about 8 to 12 hours, sometimes up to 16 hours, just to write the tasting notes for every 12 batches! I try to put a lot of time and thought into it, as I know it isn’t a cheap product and folks want to know something about it before they spring for a bottle. The good news is that I am going to start doing the tasting notes again! However, I’m so impossibly behind on the tasting notes since 111 that I probably won’t have a chance to catch up on those. My apologies for that. It just takes a lot out of me to do them.

At any rate, I hope that helps clear up some confusion around the ages and components of the batches up to the present.

If you found this Joseph Magnus Cigar Blend Bourbon review of Batch 131 helpful, forward it to a friend!

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