Jefferson’s Ocean: Aged at Sea Review

Jeffersons Ocean Aged A Sea Review

I wanted to be writing this and calling bullshit on the process. I wanted to say that the whole thing was a marketing gimmick and that Jefferson’s Ocean tasted like a normal 6-8 yr bourbon, that there were no hints of salt or brine and that it’s trip around the world on an oceanic research vessel was all for naught. I wanted to be able to say all of this… but I can’t.

To make this batch of Jefferson’s Ocean Trey Zoeller, Jefferson’s Master Blender, sourced 62 barrels of bourbon aged 6-8 years and then put them on a container ship for 6 months where the barrels rocked and sloshed across the oceans stopping at a total of 31 ports and making their way across the equator four times. The theory is that this constant movement of the liquid in the barrels ages (matures) the whiskey faster because more of the liquid is in contact with the wood more often.

Overall this is some seriously tasty bourbon. Rich and deep in character starting at the nose and surging through the finish there are strongly defined bourbon notes blending with some unique briny characteristics that give this sourced bourbon an identity all its own. I’m not fully convinced it’s worth the full price tag, but with a % of each bottle going towards Ocearch research I’m feeling better about it with each sip.

Jefferson’s Ocean: Aged at Sea Review

ABV: 45%
Batch: 21
Bottle: 0826
Price: $65

Distiller: ? / Jefferson’s source and blend their whiskey like High West. Though unlike High west they don’t disclose from where.

Amber caramel

There isn’t any brine or salt in the nose just a big dose of well matured bourbon. This starts out with a healthy dose of bourbon spice followed by rich caramel and vanilla. Brown sugar, dark fruit (cherries in particular), orange zest, dark honey and oak. The aromas are sharp, rich and sweet; creating a wonderful nosing experience that reminds me of high quality wheaters.

Bourbon spice and dark fruit are neck and neck coming onto the palate with caramel behind by an inch. Cinnamon pops and cherries float in and out and the oak sits like a support beam under the whole flavor profile. There is some vanilla, but it comes across as imitation vanilla and then there’s the salt. I was shocked to actually find some salty brine coating my tongue as it passed. It’s not a strong presence, but it’s definitely there.

A bit hot (rough / burning), but completely manageable.

Medium-long and filled with caramel, wood, salt and vanilla mixed with an ambiguous sweetness and tartness in what is easily the most unique finish I’ve had in a bourbon.

SCORE: 91/100

Josh Peters

Josh Peters

I read about, think about, write about, and drink whisk(e)y. In short, it's my passion.
Josh Peters

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67 Responses to Jefferson’s Ocean: Aged at Sea Review

    • Ignorant AND snobby is no way to go through life son. Colorado and Texas are producing some of the best bourbon in the world right now with Stranahans, Neversweat and Balcones – no question. But lot’s of public perception to be influenced and educated as you prove case in point.

      Bourbon is essentially barrelled corn whiskey. It has to be 1. 51% Corn mash 2. Bottled at 80proof or higher. The rest is wiggle room.

      Your probably the kind of guy that falls for that “Jack Daniels is not Tennessee Whiskey! (not just charcoal filtered bourbon. And will stumble over countless amazing Bottled In Bonds just to get a whiff of some Pappy you can brag about.

      You’re everything that’s wrong with trends and white people – I hope you get stuck in traffic and step on a Lego.

          • A little bit testy there, Dr. DCaf, and not very accurate either. While it’s true bourbon can be made anywhere in the USA, Kentucky is certainly the primary home to bourbon, producing more than 90% of the nation’s output. Plus, all of the traditions and regulations associated with bourbon originate in Kentucky.

            Bourbon is not barreled corn whiskey. For it to be labeled corn whiskey, it must be at least 80% corn and can be unaged or aged in barrels. Bourbon is a blend of corn with a larger percentage of barley, rye, and/or wheat.

            Also, Stranahan’s does not make bourbon at all, but single malt whiskey aged in new charred oak barrels. Neversweat is made in Montana, not Colorado or Texas.

            Breckenridge Bourbon is a two year old bourbon that is bottled at 86 proof and priced at around $45. The Ultimate Spirits Challenge notwithstanding, it typically scores in the mid 80’s with most reviewers. Kentucky bourbons in the $30-40 range (Evan Williams Vintage, Knob Creek Single Barrel, Four Roses Small Batch, etc.) are bottled at a higher proof, at least triple the age, and typically score in the 90’s. Not to mention BiB’s like Old Grandad and Evan Williams that cost under $20 and are at least four years old and bottled at 100 proof.

            I’ll go step on a Lego now.

  1. well go ahead and give me there names cause like jack daniels ky proud will make them take the bourbon name off their label to be bourbon it has to be made by ky corn and ky spring water so there for it is not bourbon just plain old wiskey

    • Not true. It has to be manufactured and aged in Kentucky to be called Kentucky Bourbon. Bourbon is a broader term and can be produced anywhere in the USA so long as it meets the minimum legal requirements to be classified as such.

        • It can indeed. It just has to be distilled and barreled in the USA. NDPs like Cadenhead’s have taken barrels to Scotland to age and bottled them as bourbon. All it has to do is touch new charred oak on American soil and it can be called a bourbon. Technically speaking you could collect some new make from a still in a charred wooden bucket, pour it directly into a bottle and still call it Bourbon since there is no minimum age requirement for bourbon. Weird I know.

    • kinda like “Champagne”, and it can be wonderful or suck, but, to be that product it must be done in France, from local grapes and carbonation must be in the bottle.

  2. By law, bourbon must be:
    Produced in the USA
    Made of a grain mix of at least 51% corn
    Distilled at less than 160 proof (80% ABV)
    No additives allowed (except water to reduce proof where necessary)
    Aged in new, charred white oak barrels
    Aged for a minimum of two years*

    • Hey Chris,

      I’ve read that most of their new stuff is likely MGP, but some of their older stuff was likely sourced elsewhere. Though I’m relatively sure this falls into the former not the later.


  3. Is this Ocean #2 or Ocean #1? Ocean #3 just is being released here in New England, and I picked some up, interested to hear how you review the different releases…

  4. […] When we think of bourbon, we think of cornfields and rural America. But Jefferson’s Bourbon founder Trey Zoeller, a proud child of Kentucky, would just as well have you think of the open waters. That’s because his Jefferson’s Ocean Bourbon ($70) is indeed aged at sea. It makes the bottle a great conversation piece, but there’s a logic of sorts behind the process: To quote the brand’s press materials: “The constant rocking of the ocean, fluctuation in temperature and saline-rich air help mature the whiskey faster and add depth to the bourbon.” All we know is that it’s good stuff, and that even the most skeptical of bourbon buffs agree: “This is some seriously tasty bourbon…with some unique briny characteristics,” says The Whiskey Jug blog. […]

  5. taste is Great better than and Van Winkle I tasted
    and its hard to get has ore vanilla flavor
    was a hit at my Family Christmas Dinner

  6. Awsome Bourbon
    Was at mt Brothers House Christmas Eve
    had this Bourbon was Totally Impressed
    Jeffereson Ocean Aged was Great
    Ive had Jefferson 82.3 & 90.2(liitle over Priced but Good too)
    had this Ocean Aged and was in Love with all the
    Pappy stuff going around I like this alot
    Retailers said his allocated I can see why
    It has a lot of vanilla Flavor
    take it from me get this better than any pappy you tasted trust me

    • WOW!!! I drink this with no ice, no water, no chaser, no anything & think it is one of the best I’ve ever had!!! No burn what so ever!

  7. Really disappointed in this $80 bourbon which was talked up by manager of Banks liquors in Millville DE. The reviews on these types of bourbons are great. Did I get a bad bottle? As I sipped the bourbon burned all the way down and lasted at least a minute. I don’t think any good bourbon should burn. The bourbon was Jeffersons ocean aged at sea and was a real letdown.

    • Interesting, mine doesn’t really have much burn to it. It is 90 proof so it should have a little kick to it, but not quite like what you’re describing. Did you try adding a splash of water to your glass? It’ll help tame the alcohol while also releasing some additional flavors and aromas. Hope that helps.

  8. I just got a bottle of the first JO today! Lucked out can’t say where I found it but they had plenty at $90 a bottle! I’m going back w my fingers crossed on Monday! The comment that it burns??? Well any alcohol will burn some? Thank God, if not for the little burn and the little hangover from time to time well I’d slug it like iced tea??? To give a bourbon a bad review on having a burn is like hearing someone say ” my diet soda had an aftertaste? Well Duh! Grab a sprite only , but now it burns when cold! Lol! Help me please! Also a KY guy is gonna get his bourbon from Ky! Believe me there’s BIG pride with bourbon in our state!!! That’s an insult to the man!!!

    • That’s great you managed to find a batch 1, congrats. Though you completely lost me when you said I gave it a bad review because it burns. I gave it a 91… that’s a great score. That’s an A-, I really enjoy this bourbon, but it’s completely fair to say that it runs way hotter than other 90 proofers. That’s not a slight, just an observation.

    • I think it was Robert that said it burns, I replied to that comment also! I would like to know what Robert usually drinks?? I want some!!

  9. Got a bottle of voyage #4 from the wife; changed my whole view on Valentine’s day. Very impressed with what I assumed was just a marketing gimmick. Agree with your review of #2, I can honestly taste the effect the sea air had on these barrels. Salted caramel corn. Like the burn too.

    • I had nearly the same experience as Marcus, but with Voyage #3. I thought it was a gimmick, but was talked into it by a couple of people I trust. I opened it for some family that was visiting and everyone who tried it thought it was great. Poured some more a week later and it was even better. Nice wood, caramel, vanilla, cinnamon, other spices and even some salt. A unique flavor profile for a bourbon, and very smooth. As a result, I will be getting some Voyage #4 when it is finally available in the rocky mountain region.

  10. Hi. I like your latest blog post. I’m a big fan of whiskey in general. So much so we’ve started sourcing and aging coffee beans in whiskey barrels. Any chance you would be up for reviewing our coffee for your blog readers? I can send out some free samples to you. Awesome site by the way.

    Let me know. Thanks.

  11. If you can sell this for $65 you must be getting it a lot cheaper than me. I own a liquor store and my cost is $63.45 a bottle.

  12. So my wife picked up a bottle of the #4 on a routine trip to the store for a restock. I don’t usually drift from my regular Basil Hayden or Blanton’s that often. When I do i’m usually filled with regret. I enjoy light bodied, mild bourbons. How is this going to taste in comparison to my regulars?

  13. Had a splash of Voyage 3 at a local bar in Little Rock a while back; changed my life. Used to be a Basil and Knob Creek guy but splurged on Voyage 4 which I found just down the street. A little more burn, but just as great!

  14. the 5th voyage is the best yet, I heard it’s aged on a barge sitting in the ocean, far cry from the original batch.

  15. I recently discovered your site looking for reviews on Master’s Keep. I thought I would read your review on Ocean for comparison. Wow, it makes me wonder about your judgement. 🙂 I tried Ocean at the 2015 Bourbon Classic here in Louisville. My buddy and myself didn’t even want to finish the sample taste given out. One of the bottom 3 bourbons I tasted at the Bourbon Classic this year. I might try it again if I run across anybody that wants to share, but I wouldn’t invest a dime in it when I can get so many other great bourbons. I do like the site though and plan to visit regularly.

    Me, I like most all of my bourbon over ice or slightly watered. Never mixed, and almost never in a cocktail.

    – Mike

  16. Yeah I have to agree with the above. Maybe I got a bad barrel but I contemplated pouring it out. The finish was very tart.I had to cleanse my palate with some Blantons

  17. I’ve just finished a gift of Jeffersons Ocean.. A good, marvelous bourbon. I don’t know the details, but don’t care.
    A good drink. Think I’ll have another.

  18. FWIW: Linie, the Norwegian aquavit is also aged by putting it up in barrels, and shipping it to Australia AND BACK, crossing the Equator twice, which I guess is what the name refers to. If Linie tastes different from Aalborg, the Danish aquavit, it’s because of the botanicals used in each, not the sea voyage, in my opinion. I don’t think I’ve ever noticed Linie having any ‘briny’ notes, but its price is about the same as Aalborg or any other aquavit by the time I get it in central Illinois.

  19. I found Ocean to be a very solid bourbon, but the real star is the Jefferson’s Groth Cask Finish, which appears to be similar juice with different aging/finishing. Silky smooth, and much more refined. I highly recommend it, at least in regard to the current batches on shelves right now.

  20. Picked up a bottle of #7 Cask Strength for $74.99 – apparently, Sherlock’s (ATL) sourced a whole barrel. Looking forward to tasting this one… ABV 56%

  21. Vikings have been aging their spirits this way for centuries. Linie Aquavit is the most famous in distribution. It is a very good tasting bourbon.

  22. So, should I buy a bottle?
    I just picked up a Jefferson Old Rum and…it’s OK. Not worth the ~70 they’re asking. It’s good, but not better than…….. you know? there’s not a heckuva lot of bourbons that I like which retail between 50-100….
    Is that actually where we are? You better like Grandad or whatever 4Rose you can get because that’s all there is south of 180, or so.

  23. Ocean aged at sea, Voyage #12, My first Ocean but a long time Jefferson small batch fan. This was awesome. At $88 a bottle it’s a once every few weeks buy but was the best I have had and I have tried them all.

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