The liquid was almost black – darker than bourbon that has aged for 20-plus years.
In 2006, Trey Zoeller, founder of Jefferson’s Bourbon, discovered that he could enhance the colour and flavour of his product by allowing it to age at sea.
In 2013, WWL and Jefferson’s distributor, Castle Brands, loaded 64 barrels of liquid gold onto the decks of the MV Endurance, where they spent four months travelling the world, rocking on the waves and breathing the salty air.
Trey Zoelle’s first experiment with putting whisky out to sea saw him leave four barrels on a friend’s boat – for four years. “The result blew away all our expectations! The liquid was almost black – darker than bourbon that has aged for 20-plus years. The rocking had allowed it to pick up colour and flavour from the inside of the barrel, while stripping away the stringency of the alcohol. As the ship had travelled near the equator, the heat had caramelised the sugar in the barrel giving it a thicker feel, while a briny flavour had developed from the barrels being exposed to the sea air.”
When Andres Gonzalez, Director of Logistics at Castle Brands, first contacted WWL’s office in Woodcliff Lake, New Jersey, he knew he had a curious request. He was looking for a vessel on which to store 64 barrels of bourbon for a period of four months. He wanted the vessel to cross the equator and visit Australia.
“This was not an ordinary project and a lot of companies were not as open-minded as WWL,” says Gonzalez. “Although the notion of people shipping barrels around the world – simply to have them spend time at sea – might have been difficult to grasp at first, WWL listened to our idea and explored all the possibilities.
“WWL helped us overcome the obstacles we encountered – Product Manager Knut Kringleneven supported us with the design of the special racks we used to transport the barrels,” he adds.
Susan Visone, General Manager of Pricing for WWL Americas, says: “This was a really exciting, interesting and unusual assignment. When you’re working on something so out of the ordinary, you have to make sure you do it right.”