We are here in Kentucky, for the third time this year, for a bourbon event. Today, we will visit the Kentucky Bourbon Festival in Bardstown for a bit, before returning to Louisville and gussying ourselves up for a the The Great Kentucky Bourbon Tasting & Gala tonight. MY wife has a lovely dress picked out, and I will actually be in black tie – an event slightly less rare than Haley’s Comet. I’ll be posting more about it tomorrow, but for today, it’s the review of a bourbon I wanted to try for a while – the Jefferson’s Ocean II: Aged At Sea.
Now, the story of the Jefferson’s Ocean is as interesting as anything. A few years ago, Jefferson master blender Trey Zoeller put a limited number of aged barrels on a ship, and let it sail around the world. Upon it’s return, they sampled and bottled it, and Jefferson’s Ocean was born. The reviews were good – some pointed out that the temperature fluctuations and rolling motion of being on a ship gave it a truly unique taste, while some even pointed out an almost briny salt water taste deep within.
With that success, Zoeller dispatched 60+ more barrels of bourbon for a 6-month trip on a container ship. The bourbon is reportedly 6-8 years old, and details of it’s source or blend aren’t known. As the ship (and stored barrels) crossed the equator four times and stopped on four continents, the whiskey rolled in the barrels, increasing it’s contact time with the wood and slightly agitating not unlike a washing machine. The process is pretty cool, but the question is – “Is the bourbon any good?”
My answer is absolutely yes.
The nose was one of the sweetest I’ve ever experienced in a bourbon. Rich caramel, vanilla, brown sugar and a hint of what almost reminded me of banana creme wafted from the top. Oak woodiness around the edges, but the smell of this liquor made me anticipate a rum like sweetness.
Two things struck me immediately at first sip: (1) this bourbon is far sweeter than I had expected, and so very smooth; and (2) the very thick mouth feel. This bourbon has an almost creamy, sweet feel, and rolls almost like a liqueur across the tongue. Again, caramel, vanilla, a touch of maple syrup blends with a touch of non-bitter spices and the oakiness of a well aged bourbon. Others have noted a salt or brine touch on this drink – I did not get that at all. I did get a good dose of dried or candied fruit, particularly citrus.
The finish was very smooth, and the longer it sat in the glass, the more sweet it smelled. I don’t want to give the wrong impression – it’s not sweet like a rum or soda. But it definitely is for the sweeter palate, and that’s perfectly fine with me. I found it to be delicious.
Dan’s Rating: 9.0