Jefferson's Ocean Aged At Sea; McLain & Kyne; Louisville, KY; $80/btl
Westward American Two Malts Whiskey; Westward Whiskey; Portland, OR; $90/btl
The title sounds impressive, right? Here we are in 2021 and we are deciding the world championships of Feast Whiskey. And, because this blog is so widespread, and because I have — at minimum — two readers, there will be a whiskey for both of them to love. That’s right, this championship pits two of this world’s 8 million, nine hundred and sixty seven thousand contenders in a head-to-head contest to determine which one is worthy of the coveted “FW” trophy.
And who are the contenders? Well, if you’re smart and you looked at the picture you already know. For those of you who would rather find out after reading two or three thousand words of fluff, well boy howdy I’ve I got some fluff for you!
To begin, it's the Feast of Tabernacles. Many of you haven’t got a clue what that is, and that’s okay. I do, and that’s all that's important right now. In Sunday night’s post I went into very minor detail of this joyous event, and that will have to do for now. After all, this is a whiskey blog, not a sermon.
But, if you paid attention to my last post you’ll know that I sometimes find a whisky at the Feast that is so special that it gets the coveted label of Feast Whiskey, a drink so delightful that I set it aside and only imbibe during one of God’s seven annual feasts (well, six, actually, since one of them is a day of fasting). This year COVID struck hard and I sit at Ken’s Bar rather than some shmarmy snob-bar in Steamboat Springs sipping the good stuff whilst watching the sun set amongst the Rocky Mountains.
Okay, so what to do? Well, as it turns out, I bought two bottles of whiskey in advance since I couldn’t be certain that the two I wanted to take would be available at the liquor store in Steamboat. They were all set to make the trip with me and get their “opening” upon arrival. Since I couldn't make the trip, neither did they. Thus, I happen to have them right in front of me, and I opened both on Monday evening as the Feast of Tabernacles got underway at sundown. I tried both, and both are worthy contenders. In fact, both are very worthy contenders.
And they are as follows:
Jefferson’s Ocean Aged At Sea KSBW, and Westward American Two Malts Whiskey. Now, I've never tried anything from Jefferson’s before, but Westward’s American Single Malt quickly — and definitively — found its way to the top of my Bottom Shelf, a place that is hard to get to no matter how good it is. Ever since I first found Westward, I’ve been coveting their Two Malts, which is a partnership between Westward Whiskey and Bridgeport Brewing. And, when I first read the story behind Jefferson’s Ocean Aged At Sea Bourbon I had to try it. It just sounds … fun!
So, what to do with these two? Oh, I know, drink the stuff and scribble some notes. And then decide which one jumpstarts the truck!
Oh, dear. Decisions sometimes just aren’t my strength. Which means this is actually very tough.
Here’s the thing: Both of these whiskeys are very unique. Jefferson’s Ocean is smooth, stuffed with vanilla and caramel and some woody things happening out on the edges of the ol’ tongue, and the finish has that nice bite of alcohol scraping the back of the mouth as it dumps on down into the liver. It’s absolutely gorgeous, if that word can be used to describe a flavor.
The Westward is a different nut altogether. Westward’s signature bottles are all single malts derived from a common malt and aged in different barrels with marked histories amongst the wineries and breweries of Oregon. But, the Two Malts is, well, two distinct malts: 68% Bridgeport Brewing malted barley, and 32% Kingpin Red Ale malted rye. It’s a single barrel concoction, and mine is bottle number 1427. It’s loaded with nutty goodness, butterscotch rye, and pepper. It’s absolutely beautiful, if that word can be used to describe a flavor.
Both of these bottles is pretty, and the two nectars are nearly identical in color. But it ends there. They’re separated by blend, process, region, and style, and neither is better than the other, although both are better than most. The Westward is more unique — born of Westward’s genuine zeal to stand out from the crowd, while the Jefferson’s is more typical of Kentucky Straight Bourbon Whiskey. But, even then the Jefferson’s is special. They say that the sea-aging process rolls the barrels and the whiskey thus comes into contact with the oak more consistently. Great! Sure! Whatever you guys are doing, just keep doing it.
Westward is bonkers fun. It tastes like Westward, but it doesn’t taste like Westward. I mean, these guys are just wonderful daddy-juice artists, and they continue to swing for the fences, with at least one home-run and a number of RBI’s.
So, whose the winner in this taste-off?
I can’t decide based simply on the merits of the goodness within each bottle. Both are just too good. But, I have made a decision, and it may come as a surprise. So, here it is:
Westward American Two Malts Whiskey!
Why? Well, the answer came easy once I thought about it. Both are special, but there is something very special about the Two Malts. You see, this bottle represents a partnership between Westward Whiskey and Bridgeport Brewing. But, Bridgeport Brewing was too badly affected by COVID, basic economics, and just plain bad luck. Recently they were forced to close their doors permanently, and no longer exist as a business. Bridgeport is no more. The exact details are beyond this average, ordinary, everyday Ken’s capacity, but it matters not. They are closed for business, which means that the bottle I sip upon will never be produced again.
And that makes it special! In fact, it makes it special enough to crown it with the coveted “FW” trophy. It will be marked with my sharpie, set upon the shelf, and only brought out for a few days each year. It will disappear very slowly, and I will enjoy every drop, and probably stuff a paper towel in the empty bottle so I can wring out every last molecule of tasty goodness.
And of the Jefferson’s Ocean? Well, I was just in the liquor store unloading a small quantity of my stored tithe on something my heart was desiring: whiskey! The shelf was devoid of anything Westward because it simply is not available here in Idaho. But Jefferson’s Ocean was there six deep. I’ll be able to get more of it, but I’m not so sure about Westward Two Malts. I may get online and order another bottle if it’s still in stock.
So, it really is that simple. Westward Two Malts wins this race on a combination of form and function. It’s a beautiful bottle packed with a beautiful whiskey, and it may be hard to find in the future. But it is that one, single enduring quality that sets it apart from it’s Kentucky cousin: Simple availability. I want the Two Malts to last, because I may never see it again. The Jefferson’s is so good that I know it will be there tomorrow. Westward Two Malts is very good, but it may never be there again.
And that’s how I choose a good Feast Whiskey World Champion.
Jefferson's Ocean Aged At Sea
Westward American Two Malts Whiskey
Who is this guy?
I'm just an average, ordinary, everyday Ken, and nothing more. I like wine, whiskey, and beer. I write when I'm bored (and to prove it I've published three books). I like to garden, work with wood, and laugh with family and friends. Ken's Bar is an expression of my enjoyment of adult beverages of all shapes and sizes, but especially whiskey. My tasting notes are as much about stories and connections with people as they are about fluffy, snobbish adjectives. I've tasted a lot of whiskey (including the costs-way-too-much Rip Van Winkle stuff) and decided to start writing about it. Or something. So, sit back and read. If you can.
How do I rank?
Cost per Bottle:
$ - $0-$25
$$ - $26-$50
$$$ - $51-$75
$$$$ - $76-$100
$$$$$ - Over $100
* - Swill. Dump it out.
** - Mix it with coke
*** - A good sipper
**** - Straight from Heaven.
***** - Heaven called and wants its whiskey back!
Shoot me an email with comments, suggestions, or hate mail!