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Jefferson’s Very Small Batch Bourbon

I intended for this story to be about America, Manifest Destiny, the agrarian ideal and Deism.  I intended it for the Fourth of July, with rockets’ red glare and screaming eagles and shit.  I’m a little late for all that nationalism stuff though, and not one for blind patriotism, so sorry, it’s the Fourteenth of July and I’ve finally gotten enough motivation and encouragement to write.  You’ll live, unlike the man for whom I write this, Thomas Jefferson. T. Jeffs. Tommy J. Teej.  He died on the Fourth, 1826, which you probably would have learned in history class if you were awake and not stoned.  You probably would have also learned that a document called the Declaration of Independency was signed that day, 1776.  They made a musical about it.  Anyways, Mr. J happens to be the namesake of the bourbon I bought for the holiday weekend, coincidentally.  It was on sale, ‘Murica.  I could go on and on about Mr. Thomas Jefferson because of the whole “I used to get made fun of for being a history geek” thing (just kidding I still do.)  I could talk about how Jefferson was a true Renaissance man:  Statesman, educator, gentleman farmer, distiller, author, architect, inventor, musician.  You probably know him for his affair with his slave / wife’s half-sister Sally Hemings.   I rather like Jefferson.  He hated banks and loved rebellion.  He made whiskey and played music.  You see where this is going?  It’s going to the bottle…

jeffersons ghost

 

Right, the whiskey.  This isn’t exactly old teej’s whiskey for quite a few reasons, but one stands above the rest—they don’t distill it.  “What the hell do you mean?!” you ask, “it doesn’t just condense in nature!”  No, it doesn’t, if it did I would be a religious man and Jefferson owner Trey Zoeller would be my prophet.  Instead what Zoeller does is buy whiskey, pre-made and partially aged, and blend it.  This bourbon can be sourced from multiple distilleries, blended, and sometimes adventurously aged, like their recent “Ocean” outing that was aged onboard a research vessel at sea to give it a strong briny character.  Regardless, this is an interesting business model, particularly for a company vying in around the premium spirits market.  What I drink tonight is Jefferson’s base-line—the small batch.  Ridiculously small batch they claim.  At $25 on sale this is competitively priced bourbon, competing with a lot of big hitters in the $20-30 game.  How does Mr. Jefferson fare in this marketplace? Well, like the man himself the bourbon has a unique and distinct character. The entry on this is one of soft sweet corn, light vanilla, heavy oak with a twinge of must and an airy middle note that I could almost discern until I whiffed a little too much and burned the hair from my nostrils.  That’s surprising from something that’s only 82.3 proof.  Let me also say, that .3 is probably bullshit.  Anyways, the first sip hits quite smoothly, rolling across the tongue with a light sweetness that has a distinct caramel apple character, and leaves with slick, oily coating.  Near the back it seems the sweet has run off and there’s a healthy bit of spice that adds a bit of complexity this whiskey deserves, with such a enigmatic namesake.  So, is this the best bourbon in that $20-30 slug-fest?  That’s a matter of choice, and while this may not be the first one I reach for at that price point myself, I appreciate what it does, how it tastes and a good sale price.  As every history geek has their favorite founding father (mine likely the namesake), every whiskey geek will likely have their favorite reasonably priced bourbon—and those two groups have quite a bit of overlap.  

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