For over 30 months, Jefferson's Bourbon Founder and Master Blender Trey Zoeller carried out 13 different experiments on fully matured bourbon by changing the conditions in which the bourbon was aged. Whether it was placing the already aged bourbon in new American oak casks with different char levels, changing the barrels to wine casks, or adding wood staves / cubes that have been treated, Zoeller did it. He charted the progress of these experiments every 30 days. This was developed along with the expertise of Independent Stave Company.
Trey chose 5 experiments that he felt brought unique characteristics to the bourbon and packaged them together in five 200m bottles. He placed fully aged bourbon into Standard American Oak barrels, wine barrels, and hybrids of both.
Wooden staves were treated (charred, toasted, seared, etc.) to create different flavor profiles as the bourbon aged further.
The Wood Experiment Collection attests to the Jefferson’s philosophy of nature vs. nurture as well as the ongoing desire to push the boundaries of how to age bourbon.
“We basically sear or slow cook the oak barrel staves for certain lengths of time and at different temperatures to emit caramel or mocha or vanilla or butterscotch flavors,” says Trey Zoeller. “Of the 13 experiments, we had some gems and some that did not turn out so well. We had some that peaked early and then changed flavor profile. It has been a lot of fun to taste monthly and, like peeling back the layers of an onion, we have learned a lot along the way that we feel will help us with future bottlings.”
The Jefferson’s Wood Experiment Collection includes:
Experiment No. 3: “Créme Briilée”- Aged in New American oak wine barrels with a low, deep impact toast profile which gives off a vanilla nut finish and smoky undertones
Experiment No. 4: “Chocolate Caramel”- Aged in new, standard whiskey barrels with a medium char, infused with heavily charred American oak cubes that exert flavors of mocha, dark chocolate and caramel with hints of tobacco and leather
Experiment No. 6: “Vanilla Smoke” - Aged in new standard whiskey barrels that have a light-medium char and infused with lightly toasted American oak cubes that emit smoky honey and vanilla flavors
Experiment No. 10: “Southern Spice” - Aged in a custom French & American hybrid wine barrel with a low, deep impact toast profile that presents big, bold flavors of burnt caramel, plum, black pepper and maple
Experiment No. 12: “Cinnamon Apple” - Aged in the original bourbon barrel with oak inserts that have been toasted over a long period of time to exert flavors of caramelized apples and plums with a bold cinnamon finish