The next American Whiskey Tasting Session 20 will be Thursday, June 1st.
Join us at The Golden Rose (123 W. Broadway) from 5-8pm.
What do you get when you combine barrels of bourbon with a ship at sea? Lost? Shipwrecked? Good answers, but here’s a better one – Jefferson’s Ocean Aged at Sea Straight Bourbon Whiskey.
Jefferson’s Ocean is the product of a unique approach to making bourbon, as the barrels spend 5-10 months upon a ship as it voyages across the oceans. These journeys aren’t day cruises around some bay for the sake of a gimmicky marketing angle. The time at sea is long enough to potentially impact the aging process, as the voyages typically cross the equator four times, visit five continents and over 30 ports.
So what’s the end result? Does the motion of the ocean impact the final product? How about the salt air or the exposure to weather? Most importantly, is it good bourbon?
First, a brief discussion about whiskey and sourcing. Jefferson’s Ocean is sourced from Kentucky. For those learning more about whiskey, “sourced” means Jefferson’s doesn’t distill their own bourbon, but instead buys unaged, “white dog” bourbon from a distiller. This is a common practice in the industry, and many sourced bourbons are outstanding. Variables such as char (how extensively the inside of barrels are exposed to flame before the whiskey is added), length of aging, climate and the skill of the whiskey maker at mixing a final product from different barrels (assuming it’s not a single barrel release) are all significant factors in the taste of the final product.
Jefferson’s is known for making good bourbon, and Ocean lives up to that reputation. This profile is based upon the 4th edition of Ocean, and the four editions have been quite different from each other, including different mash bills, before the variables discussed above are even factored in. Ocean IV is a complex, interesting and delicious bourbon. A strong presence of oak, caramel and vanilla is balanced with the pleasant spiciness of fairly high rye content (25-30%) and the subtle sweetness of raisins.
Now, back to the ultimate question. Does the time at sea impact the flavor of this bourbon? There is a strong argument that it does. Jefferson’s Ocean has complexity and a depth of flavor that are beyond the norm for a 6-7 year-old bourbon. While at sea, the bourbon sloshes around the barrel, which likely allows a greater transfer of barrel flavors in a shorter amount of time, particularly when coupled with exposure to high, equatorial temperatures. The effect of the salt air is perhaps a matter of debate and personal taste, as some claim to detect a slight, subtle brininess, while others do not.
The bottom line is, Jefferson’s Ocean Aged at Sea is a very good bourbon, and worth paying a little extra for its uniqueness and the added cost of production. Good bourbon is even more enjoyable when accompanied by an interesting story, especially when the story actually affects the bourbon. Yo ho ho and a bottle of bourbon!
“My, what a big ice you have.”
Careful, here. Saying this to your fellow patron at the bar, especially should they be of the opposite sex, may draw any number of responses. If they simply misunderstand you, you may be lucky enough to get some equally cheesy response. If you are originally from the South, as I am, and “ice” sounds more like…well…you might get knocked off your stool. However, if you are fortunate to be properly understood, hopefully you will be on your way to a great conversation about the enjoyment of spirits. And, if the comment is directed your way, you can drop some knowledge on the less informed.
You have likely seen spirits served with a single, large ice cube (or ice ball, as the case may be, which opens up a whole different possibility for witty dialogue). Sure, its trendy, and sure, it does look pretty cool, but we are all serious connoisseurs here right? None of us would trivialize the moment spent enjoying our favorite bourbon, scotch, rum, tequila, etc. with a silly, fancy ice cube. Of course not! Accordingly, I offer the following template when your fellow bar patron quips about the size of you ice:
1) Why yes, it is rather large. I try not to bring it out in public often. (You don’t want to be TOO boring or nerdy. You are at a bar, after all.)
2) I don’t always drink my bourbon with ice, but when I do, I prefer big ice. This is pretty high proof, and a little water helps make it more approachable. (This is admittedly pretty boring, so feel free to say the first part of this like the guy from the Dos Equis commercials, if being witty is your game.)
3) This iceberg in my glass actually melts more slowly, thus diluting the drink less quickly. It also keeps it from getting too cold, and, it doesn’t tend to trap any of the good stuff, so I’m not leaving behind $3 of this $25 drink in the ice. (OK, please don’t really say the last part, as you will sound like a phenomenal d-bag.)
So, there you go. You can be stylish, witty and knowledgeable, all while bringing a smidgen of added enjoyment to a pour of your favorite high octane spirit. Molds are available for all manner of shapes and sizes of large ice cubes that you can make at home. You will get all the same benefit for your drink, but will unfortunately miss out on the witty banter.
Ah, France – home of delicious food, beautiful scenery and, for many non-experts, an often confusing way of naming their wines.
“This is a wonderful, refreshing wine. What is it?”
“It is a Sancerre.”
“Hmmm, I’ve never heard of Sancerre. It tastes like a Sauvignon Blanc.”
“It is a Sauvignon Blanc.”
“Wait, I thought you said it was a Sancerre.”
“It is a Sancerre.”
“Oh, so you mean the winery is called Sancerre.”
“No, the winery is called Domaine Daniel Chotard.”
“Look, just tell me what kind of wine this is. I am Sancerre-ly confused.”
You see, the French like to name their wine by region, rather than by grape varietal. Most wine drinkers have heard of Bordeaux or Burgundy. Even as well-known as they are, some may assume those wines are named after the grapes they are made from, much like Merlot or Chardonnay, but, alas, they are not. Bordeaux is a region in France known for producing great red wines, made from various combinations of up to six grapes. Burgundy is known for great reds, especially those made from Pinot Noir. It would be similar if Americans referred to any wine from that famous area in California as a “Napa”, as opposed to a Cabernet Sauvignon or Syrah. It’s just an extra layer of learning that is required with French wines, perhaps so they can laugh haughtily at the uninformed.
You can henceforth enjoy a glass of Sancerre emboldened with the knowledge that Sancerre is a region in France known for making delightful Sauvignon Blancs. Sancerre is located right in the middle of France, in the Loire Valley. The relatively cool climate, variety of soil types and different methods of tailoring vines results in distinct styles produced in the region, but Sauvignon Blancs from Sancerre are typically very dry, fairly acidic and quite aromatic, with nice mineral and citrus notes. Most Sancerres are unoaked and do not go through malolactic fermentation, which gives many white wines a buttery flavor.
The 2014 Sancerre produced by Daniel Chotard at his family owned winery is an excellent, somewhat subdued representation of the region. Chotard prefers to harvest the grapes a bit later than many neighboring wineries, which results in a Sancerre with lower acidity than most; however, the wine exhibits wonderful limestone minerality, both in aroma and taste, for which many Sancerres are known.