A Unique Bourbon that Wonderfully Blends Salty with Sweet
Jefferson’s “Special Wheated Mashbill” Ocean Voyage #15 Aged at Sea Very Small Batch Straight Bourbon ($82.99)
“One of the most lovable little whiskies Jefferson has released in years.”
– David Othenin-Girard, KL Spirits Buyer
When it comes to Bourbon, Jefferson’s is among our favorites for innovative, cutting-edge bottlings. Take for example the Ocean Voyage #15, in order to age this wheated bourbon, Jefferson’s sent it on an ocean voyage, stopping at no less than thirty ports, and crossing the equator four times. This highly unusual maturation process was done to impart a unique maritime influence on the whiskey. The end product offers a classic wheated profile of caramel and vanilla, but is also joined by flavors of brine and sea salt. This combination is every bit as delicious as it is rewarding.
While we don’t know where Jefferson’s is sourcing their bourbon, we do know it is of the top quality. Rounded, expressive, and engaging, it has the body to hold up to such a rigorous aging process, while at the same time is mellow enough to really highlight the ocean’s influence. Anyone who has enjoyed the earlier editions of the Ocean Voyage will definitely want to give the #15 a spin, as it very well could be the best to date. As you might expect, production is very limited, so this charmer won’t remain on our shelves for long. Don’t miss out on one of the more creatively matured (and delicious) whiskeys on the market today.
This limited edition Jefferson’s Ocean Voyage is the first and only wheated bourbon to be aged at sea and visit five separate continents before being bottled. Jefferson’s Bourbon has always been a producer focused on innovation, and the Ocean Voyage program is perhaps their most ambitious yet. They’ve had incredible success with the very unusual aging regime and this is easily the best we’ve tried yet. Something about the soft sweetness of the wheated mash bill and the tangy saline of the ocean influence work absolute wonders. This is one of the most exciting and delicious new wheated bourbons released in some time. With the popularity of the Van Winkle and Weller brands, wheated bourbon has become all the rage. But simply removing the rye from a mash bill doesn’t inherently make a whiskey better; it actually makes it less flavorful. Buffalo Trace has mastered the art of crafting wheated bourbons, but some of the new wheaters don’t hold up to the hype. The Jefferson’s Ocean lays an entirely new set of flavors on top of the familiar wheated profile. It’s hard to say exactly where Jefferson’s is getting the juice, but they’ve recently purchased nearly $4 million worth of Bourbon so one would assume the source is of the highest quality. Expect a nose of rich salted caramel, rich vanilla, and sea spray. The most obvious sea influence we’ve seen on one of these since Voyage #1. On the palate it’s ultra dense and viscous with sweet corn bread and barrel spice balancing the saline.
David Othenin-Girard | KL Staff Member | Review Date: May 18, 2018
We’ve always enjoyed the Ocean Voyage in the past, even if the slightly higher cost seemed a touch gimmicky. It’s really solid bourbon with that little salty twang, but to be honest, the spicy side of the rye mash bill kind of masked any serious ocean influence. This softer, sweeter wheated Bourbon is better suited for the subtle influence of the ocean aging. They’ve obviously started with really solid bourbon, which is the key to the success of any of the “innovative” bourbon products. The whiskey, whose origins remain a secret, could come from any of the many high quality wheat producers, although it seems to have been distilled in Kentucky. The special wheated mash bill offers a much more supple and rounded whiskey to begin with, and the sweetness balances out the briny background note perfectly without masking the obvious ocean influence. That influence comes from a journey unlike any other in modern bourbon production. Visiting more than thirty ports and crossing the equator four times, the whiskey is subjected to some of the most extreme heat and humidity our planet has to offer. The result is one of the most lovable little whiskies Jefferson’s has released in years. It might not have the pedigree of the old age-stated stuff, but I would challenge anyone to argue that it isn’t more enjoyable than any release from this great little producer in the last several years. Like all the Ocean Voyages, a portion of the proceeds go to Ocearch for the study and preservation of sharks in the North Atlantic. So, you can drink well and do good at the same time.