Going fishing, eating dinner right next to the Atlantic Ocean, horseback riding on the beach and drinking amazing bourbon weren’t necessarily tasks on my bucket list, but they definitely were experiences I needed in my life.
I got to enjoy such activities while visiting Montauk, New York for the first time recently to experience the heritage that inspires the tastes of Jefferson’s Bourbon. The brand, based in Kentucky, started in 1997 and the brainchild of father and son founders Chet and Trey Zoeller (Trey I was able to meet and learn from during my trip), takes an innovative approach to bourbon whiskey. One way they do that is to age offerings both on land and water, the latter approach allowing them to mature one of their most popular concoctions at sea to see (no pun intended) what impact it would have on the taste.
In between the time we spent by the water and in it, riding trotting horses and competing to catch bluefish, I had the chance to do a tasting of four of the brand’s offerings, including the ones that were aged “at the mercy of the sea”: the Jefferson’s Ocean, Ocean Wheated, Twin Oak and the Pritchard Hill Finish. The flavors, or personalities of each drink as I like to say, were very different, but all very rich. The Ocean, aged in casks that traveled across five continents, is delicious for its robust flavor, spicy and fruity as well as caramelized. The Ocean Wheated had a similar caramelized flavor, but defined itself by a rye, vanilla taste and scent, leaving a lasting impression on the tongue.
Then there was my favorite, the Twin Oak. The thought that stood out after my very first taste, which I wrote in my notes in all caps, was “SMOOTH.” It was a taste reminiscent of chocolate because of its sweet notes, capped off with a toasted flavor. And then there was the Pritchard Hill, what Zoeller described as the most “polarizing” option of all. I could understand why. Aged in cabernet casks for 15 months, it is no surprise that you can taste the hints of red wine in it. Its fruity flavor transitions on the palate and the Pritchard Hill has a long, sharp ending. Zoeller lauds it as the quintessential steakhouse bourbon.
Taking in the aromas and tastes, it was all new for me as whiskey has always intimidated me. It’s given me the impression, from far away, of being an acquired taste for people not into cocktails or wines. A classic “drink drink” as my husband would say, a whiskey lover. But the options from Jefferson’s Bourbon definitely made me feel like I’d found the perfect flavors to keep in my cabinet, whether I’m mixing the Ocean with coke (as I did while successfully catching two bluefish) or sipping the Twin Oak slow at dinner. The experimental way the brand goes about aging its drinks makes for a rare experience and adventure for the tongue, one I was more than happy to take.
Check out the full roster of whiskey’s in Jefferson’s Bourbon’s collection here.