Kentucky bourbon Jefferson's has a few tricks up its sleeve for the UK, not least a limited edition bottled Manhattan aged in oak.
The premixed cocktail is the result of a collaboration between Jefferson's founder Trey Zoeller and US Esquire editor in chief David Granger. They settled on a recipe that includes a six-year-old bourbon, both dry and sweet vermouth, and a barrel-aged spiced cherry bitters. These spend 90 days in oak barrels before being bottled at 68 proof (34% abv). It's expected to have an RRP of £50, with each 75cl bottle yielding ten drinks.
Another limited edition from Zoeller that's headed to our shores is the snappily titled Jefferson's Reserve Groth Reserve Cask Finish Very Old Straight Bourbon Whisky. This gets some extra maturation in former Cabernet Sauvignon barrels from the Groth vineyards in Napa Valley. It clocks in at 45.1% abv and will go for £99/75cl.
In addition, the UK is the first country to host a competition in which bartenders will be tasked with creating a Jefferson's Barrel Aged Cocktail. Fifteen bartenders will compete, with a preliminary northern comp held in Leeds at Bar 314 in Progress, followed by a London comp. Cocktails will be judged after 45 days of ageing in five-litre oak barrels. The winner gets a trip to Jefferson's in Louisville, as well as a never-released bottling from Zoeller's archive.
Katie Warren, group marketing manager at Cellar Trends, Jefferson's distributor in the UK, commented: 'The launch of the two new limited editions will highlight Jefferson's skill as one of the most innovative bourbon blenders. They deliver surprising new styles which have the creative edge in their production and will intrigue discerning drnkers.'
Warren added that more releases would follow next year.