$$$ — 45% ABV — No Age Stated
There's nothing revolutionary about whisky merchants, though the practice hasn't been quite as rampant in the US as say in Europe — until recently. Especially considering most US whisky makers consider the cellar to be where the main action is, a shrewd buyer can make quite a name for themselves, as Trey Zoeller did.
The son of a historian, Trey knew the more famous barrels of Bourbon achieved their quality traveling along the Ohio River and down the Mississippi to New Orleans. In an attempt to recreate that, he sent barrels around the world on a friend's boat. There's a large difference between river water and seawater however, and the whisky was covered in a thin layer of salt. A bourbon that tastes like salted caramel popcorn has been the consensus.
It's hard enough to make sure the sailors don't "test" the barrels during the voyage, and finding it on the shelf is even harder. Jefferson's Reserve is easy to spot however and makes for very fine sipping. It explodes with flavor under the scant teaspoon of sugar and bitters in an Old Fashioned, the obvious preferred way to take this dram. The line is best for those who want a smooth and slow flavor devoid of aggression.
Being blends, Jefferson's whiskies are sourced from many places. The marketing often uses very vague expressions like "very small batch" or "very old" or even "single barrel" which has had a very interpretable definition among whisky merchants. It's all just fluff really; take the bottle for what it is: a simple and caramel-forward spirit that punches with the gloves on.