after getting hold of four one-off barrels of extraordinary bourbon, I picked one for my restaurant that tastes like a miracle
by nicolas harary
A year and a half ago, we had our first Nicholas Wines Single Barrel Bourbon offering. After selling it out in 10 minutes, I realized I needed to devote more time to finding great bourbon brands. This was, however, not as easy to achieve as one might think.
Last year, I called Jefferson’s—which buys aged bourbons from other producers and blends them to produce a consistent and remarkable product—and asked if they were willing to sell me a single barrel. They laughed. Turns out that you don’t talk to bourbon guys the same way you do winemakers.
So, I decided to take a trip to Kentucky for some tasting and face-to-face time. I must’ve made some new friends (they are crazy down there), because I came away with four very special barrels, including an elixir from Jefferson’s Reserve that’s aged up to 20 years.
Founded in 1997, Jefferson’s Bourbon is the brainchild of Trey Zoeller and his father, Chet, a famed bourbon historian and author of Bourbon in Kentucky: A History of Distilleries in Kentucky (Butler Books, 2009). The pair are continuing a tradition that goes back to Trey’s eighth-generation grandmother, who was arrested in 1799 for the “production and sales of spirituous liquers.” Grandma was also the first documented woman in the whiskey business, according to Whiskey Women: The Untold Story of How Women Saved Bourbon, Scotch, and Irish Whiskey by Fred Minnick (Potomac Books, 2013).
I’m not easy to get riled up, but when I found out I was getting a rare barrel from Jefferson’s Reserve, I was pumped. From the moment I tasted it, I loved this blend for its richly textured body (just packed with a punch of caramel, vanilla, and coffee) and its creamy and slightly smoky finish.
My bottles just arrived, and I’m able to offer them for $65. They’re worth it…trust me.