Sunday, November 11, 2012
Bon Voyage: Jefferson's Ocean Aged
The story of Jefferson's Ocean Aged is one of the more curious bourbon stories of the year. It started out with a slightly gimmicky release by McLain & Kyne, makers of the Jefferson line of bourbon. They took a sourced Kentucky bourbon and aged it at sea, in the hull of a ship, for four years. The theory was that the bourbon would slosh around at sea, getting more contact with the barrel. This is not an entirely original concept, having already been done with Kelt Cognac. They originally announced that they would release 600 bottles at $90 each.
Well, apparently some of the bourbon disappeared at sea. There would be fewer bottles and they would cost more like $200. The allocation to retailers was cut way back. As a result, one retailer, K&L here in California put the bottle on auction. Shockingly, it sold for over $1,000. You read that right, a current bottling that was originally priced at $90 went for over $1,000 at auction. As I remarked at the time, this, more than any single event, marks the end of the golden age of whiskey and portends the crash.
To their credit, K&L gave the proceeds to charity, but what about the bourbon? Could it possibly be worth that amount? Lucky for me, I was able to taste some that was acquired for a far lesser amount.
Jefferson's Ocean Aged, 41.15% abv ($1,000?)
The nose has a nice spicy characteristic, but the palate is a bit flat. There is banana and some spice that trails into the finish. Not unlike the standard Jefferson's bourbon, this is a decent but totally unexceptional bourbon. There's just not much to it.
Having tried this, I'm even more shocked that it could sell for a ridiculously high price. This is a totally average bourbon. We are truly living in whiskey bubble which may be close to popping, and this is the pets.com of bourbon.