Review – Jefferson’s, Ocean, Voyage 17, Very Small Batch, Aged 4 to 6 Years, 45%

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The tornado sirens were screaming. I’d not heard them because I was on the treadmill typing, listening to AC/DC, and trying to get less fat.

But my daughter, Madeline, heard them. In fact, ever since March 24 of 2007 when an EF-2 tornado hopped right over our house (yes, I saw it) and destroyed pretty much everything else around us, I’d say some sort of early detection system was instilled into her soul. Somehow she’s more inclined than the others to a keep a lookout when the weather’s changing for the worse.

“The tornado sirens are going off,” Madeline said, motioning to get my attention while remaining strangely calm.

“Get your sister and brothers and get back down here to the basement,” I said, removing my earbuds and matching her placid gaze. She skipped back up the basement steps and called for her siblings. I brought my pace to a halt, shut down my computer, and moved to action, doing what any responsible father would do in that moment.

Grabbing my mobile phone, I darted to each and every cabinet holding my precious and inimitable collection of whiskies to take pictures.

The photo albums were passed over. I darted through storage spaces with irreplaceable keepsakes. No mind was paid to the backup hard drive on the shelf containing every historical record of the Thoma family. My quest was set for more important things, and I pondered all along the way, If this glorious collection gets swept up and carried miles from here to its destruction, the insurance company will never believe its origin was this one location.

Proof was needed. No, I needed wisdom to feed my agility in this moment, because I’d already failed against the essential maxim that “nine-tenths of wisdom is being wise in time” (Theodore Roosevelt).

Let it be known that I accomplished my goal well before the first child ever arrived to the safe space. Take note that I was there with a few blankets I’d snatched from the guest bed to tuck them in and give them comfort. And I’ll add gladsomely that while a tornado did indeed touch down and destroy several businesses and residences about twenty miles from our home, no one was injured. I’ll say with a less than gleeful tone that none of those businesses were liquor stores, which means that I didn’t receive any unexpected deliveries to my front yard by way of tornado-mail.

Hum-hum. Anyway, my collection—and family—were safe. None from among my community was harmed. All may be counted as well and good.

Although, the Jefferson’s Ocean Voyage 17 edition before me now could have been a casualty.

After the sirens stopped and the children were shooed from the basement, I remade the guest bed and then checked another cabinet upstairs—a place where I used to keep whiskey bottles—just to see if I’d somehow overlooked a few. Sure enough, this bottle was in there. A gift from my father after a recent trip home to Illinois, I’d placed it there temporarily and had since forgotten to introduce it to its kin.

But again, all is well, and the Ocean Voyage 17 is anchored safely in port.

A bit of a ploy I’d say, the idea behind this whiskey (and the sixteen releases before it) is that it has been traveling around for four to six years on a ship at sea. The “ship’s log” tagged to the bottle’s neck implies that the vessel ventured to as many as five continents, and all along the way, the various conditions of the sea imparted something to the elixir being carried in its belly.

Yeah, maybe.

But honestly, I didn’t get anything suggesting that. As far as I can tell, this is a pretty straight shooting, but well-formulated, blend of bourbons that went into the cask tasting great and was extracted at the end tasting great, having not moved an inch.

There’s no salty sea air wafting in the nose, but rather a thinned, but more than pleasant, breeze of cinnamon, oak, and vanilla. Another sniff delivers a pinch of cloves.

A sip is a careful steering through a narrow inlet of the nose’s vanilla. There are moments when it comes very near to rocky char, but as it does, the caramel-coating to the oaky hull is never in jeopardy. The precision required for this leg of the journey is by no means lost on the final product.

Alas, the craft arrives at home, having slowed from winds of sweet cinnamon and tangerines at medium speed.

Thankfully I was there to receive it when it arrived. Or rather, it was there to be received. What a shame it would have been to have traveled so far and seen so much only to be sucked up in a tornado and cast into the wetlands behind my house—or Lord forbid, the yard of someone in the county who drinks Scoresby.

Thank you, Lord, for your compassionate deliverance of my family, my home, and my booze.

And thanks, Dad, for the gift. It’s quite delicious.