I first heard of Jefferson’s bourbons about 6 months ago on poker night with the fellas. A friend of mine brought over a bottle of Jefferson’s very small batch. I was not that into bourbons at the time but I tried it out and really liked it. One of the members of the poker group told us that it was named Jefferson’s because it was Thomas Jefferson’s original recipe for whiskey. Although that does not appear to be the case, none of us had any reason to disagree with that statement, and ultimately, I began repeating that to many people once I purchased my own bottle. It was one of those misconceptions that no one is really going to question at the time, and you really have no reason not to believe it. To this day, although it is not true, it seems like a cool reason alone to buy a Jefferson’s bottle.
Over the past few months I have grown to really love Jefferson’s bourbon. They have a great twitter presence who likes to retweet me and they also makes some really tasty stuff. Rumor is they don’t actually make their own bourbon from scratch, they get it from other distilleries. Apparently that is very common. But it’s what they do with the bourbon after they get it makes it truly awesome stuff. There are about 6 different varieties offered by Jefferson’s. Their entry level bourbon simply called Jefferson’s Very Small Batch is a fantastic every day bourbon, especially at under $30 a bottle. They also make a reserve whiskey that features older whiskeys blended together, a rare 10 year rye, a chefs collaboration, and much harder to find Presidential Select variations. And then….this Ocean version. While on a boat a few years ago, their master distiller, Trey Zoeller, came up with a brilliant idea to age some bourbon barrels on a boat for a few months. The idea behind the ocean voyage was that the constant motion of the waves would allow the bourbon to have much better contact with the oak than sitting in a rack house. Basically, the motion of the ocean allows better contact with wood. That’s….what…she…said.
I found out about Jefferson’s Ocean about 2 months ago. At that time bottles of the second voyage were sold out and very hard to find. I become obsessed with finding a bottle, so much so that my 5 year old son who made liquor store stops with me after work began telling all of his preschool friends about Jefferson’s Ocean. “My daddy wants dis bur-bun that’s been on a boat around Earf for 4 years”. I knew it was trouble when random Pre-school kids asked if I had found Jefferson’s Ocean. Forget the local neighborhood tennis team, 5 year olds gossip more than anyone else on the planet. I finally got ahold of Jefferson’s Ocean Voyage 3 a few weeks ago when some barrels hit larger stores in Atlanta. I got it at Sherlock’s, a nice large store with a big bourbon selection but a smug liquor staff. If it hadn’t been so far away, I would have gone to Tower. Another large store with a big bourbon selection but a friendly staff, and cheaper Jefferson’s Ocean.
Any-hoo, on to the important part. First off, the nose of the Ocean is awesome. It’s so smooth, like a sweet candy caramel. I do smell alcohol and on very strong whiffs it actually burns my nostrils a little. I kind of like that, especially since it’s not barrel strength. Maybe it’s the saltiness like a saline spray shooting up my nostrils. Either way, I like it. I also got a hint of raisins. The color is a nice lighter amber too, almost like a sweet tea or something. It’s lighter than anything else on my shelf, sans the moonshine that I will never touch.
The palate of the Ocean comes across so smooth, with very little burn. Caramel is the most easily recognized flavor for me, and it finishes with it nicely. There is definitely a saltiness to it, and it makes it taste so unique to almost every other bourbon. But I love it. Perhaps I like a sweeter/saltier tasting bourbon, something a little different. There is a finish that lingers, a sugary/saltery blend. It tastes a little like toffee aftertaste, mixed with some raisins and some caramel and some slight cinnamon. It’s a truly smooth and pleasant after taste.
People have waited in long lines this season, and they will continue to do so for a chance to buy the elusive Pappy Van Winkle. While doing so, they might be bypassing the Jefferson’s Ocean that has just arrived. I used to be on that ignorant boat, the one that would make that mistake, but no more. I would take a bottle of this stuff over Pappy any day of the week., well at least prior to 15 years. This is a delicious spirit, unique, and beautiful. Well done Mr. Jefferson, you and this company using your recipe have made something awesome. 🙂