The tagline of Jefferson’s Bourbon is “ridiculously small batches.” Founder Trey Zoeller is known as a bourbon pioneer of sorts, unafraid to experiment with aging methods — whether that’s throwing a couple bourbon barrels onto a ship in the ocean or sending some down the Mississippi River from Louisville, Ky., to New Orleans to recreate the spirit’s origins.
The idea for Zoeller’s latest expression came when he was rubbing elbows with the founders of Bermuda’s Gosling’s Family Reserve Old Rum, who offered him a sample of their 16-year-old product. He took a sip and marveled at its complexity, but being both a consumer and owner of whiskey, he decided to top off the rum with some of his Jefferson’s Reserve bourbon.
Thus was born Jefferson’s Reserve Old Rum Cask Finish, which hits store shelves this month in limited supply.
“Sometimes you act on a hunch and it turns out as you expected it to,” Zoeller said in a press release.
Zoeller and his team at the Kentucky Artisan Distillery, just outside of Louisville, took eight-year-old bourbon, put into the used Gosling’s barrels — which had already held bourbon for four years and rum for 16 years — and aged it for an additional 15 months. The result is a whiskey like no other — flavors that showcase the traditional caramels and vanillas, but also include bursts of banana and spice on the finish.
During a media tasting of the product last week, Zoeller talked about his inspiration for trying new things and pushing the envelope when it comes to making bourbon. He said he’d like his company to be like Baskin Robbins — 31 flavors that appeal to different people at different times. Not everyone likes pistachio, like he does, and that’s why there’s also cookie dough and strawberry and many, many others.
Zoeller said he is excited to show off this new product because he believes the flavors mingle nicely. The rum certainly brings out the sweetness of eight-year-old bourbon, and the 90.2-proof whiskey appears slightly darker than regular Jefferson’s Reserve. The feel is also thicker, allowing you to almost “chew” the whiskey, drawing out even more spice notes.
Of the 100 used rum barrels Gosling’s sent to Zoeller, only 33 were salvageable, which is why the product might be hard to find. But if you’re a fan of both spirits, it would be well worth your time to search for the treasure.
Jefferson’s Reserve Old Rum Cask Finish will be available nationwide mid-October and will retail for $79.99.