Jefferson’s has done it again and just in time for the holidays! Never was there a more perfect release that pairs perfectly with Thanksgiving dinner. The gentle tartness of the palate will blend perfectly with the salinity of a well-brined turkey, and especially one with a crisp, fried skin. Not a meat eater? Not to fear, Jefferson’s Ocean Spray also complements the nutty/salty flavor circus of a traditional green bean casserole, and even helps cut the sweetness of a marshmallow-topped sweet potato dish. Regardless of your favorite Thanksgiving side, Jefferson’s Ocean Spray is its best liquid companion. This release gleans its versatility in flavor from long days bobbing gently atop the bog waters, receiving only gentle nudges from both cranberry harvesters and the Massachusetts crisp air alike.
On the nose I’m getting light wheat grain and a lot of bubble gum. Not Trident or Hubba Bubba, but Topps baseball card gum. The gum that could also be used to shim an unlevel chair, that kind of gum. It’s not unpleasant, but it has that chalkiness to it that you remember from when you were a kid opening a pack of baseball cards. I know, I know, many adults still open packs of baseball cards, but I don’t think gum is still included. If you’re opening a pack of 1983 Topps, I don’t recommend chewing the gum enclosed.
The first time I and a friend cracked a bottle of Maker’s Mark Cask Strength, he said, correctly, “This is what Maker’s Mark should have been all along. Why did they wait so long to release at this proof?” I agreed. Neither of us knew then how committed to barrel strength releases Maker’s since the Private Select program (recently renamed Private Selection program) was still in the design stage. Maker’s spent 50 years becoming famous as a one-hit whiskey wonder, but in the 10 years since it released Maker’s 46, it’s shown a high level of skill in creating variations on that long-established theme.
I’ve had a lot of bourbon that has a great nose, then everything is downhill from there. This one is very much the opposite. The noise isn’t strong, and the notes I get aren’t ones that I gravitate towards usually. A bit of musty oak and leather, and a very slight hint of anise. What the hell, a hint of black licorice! You know, the stuff that sits at the bottom of the candy aisle in that one corner market in your childhood neighborhood. You’ve never seen anyone eat it, the same box has been there forever, yet one package mysteriously disappears every few months. Maybe whiskey makers are secretly scouring the country for that candy. Anyway, it’s there in the nose of Old Elk.
The first time I experience a new whiskey, I look for authenticity in the label and something other than creative writing and graphic design to justify the cost of a pour at a bar or the MSRP at a retail store. I appreciate the bottle design and a synthetic cork with a simple label concept that is not ostentatious.
The mashbill is misleading as 95% rye typically produces much more evergreen than sweet aromatics. The mouthfeel and sweetness causes this to drink much more like a bourbon than a rye. It’s more viscous and full-bodied than similar high rye whiskies. If you are into a standard rye whiskey profile this is not for you; but if you love good bourbon and typically stay away from rye whiskey this may be a gateway pour for you.