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Jefferson’s Releases ‘Marian McLain’, a Blend of 5 Bourbons and an Ode to an 18th-Century Moonshiner

Marian McClain

(Photo: David Morrow)

This month, Kentucky whiskey producer Jefferson’s Bourbon unveiled its latest release: Jefferson’s Marian McLain Bourbon, a blend of five bourbons.

Jefferson’s Marian McLain Bourbon is a tribute to the legacy of the eighth-generation grandmother of Jefferson’s founder Trey Zoeller, one of the earliest documented female bootleggers and whiskey runners in history.

About Marian McLain

After McLain’s husband, Angus, Died while fighting in the Revolutionary War, Marian was left to fend for herself and five children. Her solution was to illegally produce and sell spirits to make enough money for her family to live on.

McLain was arrested in 1799, becoming one of the first women to be convicted of bootlegging. It’s fitting that her descendant, Zoeller, founded a whiskey brand 198 years after her arrest.

“The Marian McLain expression is a tribute to our family history and a celebration of the pioneering persona that defines our brand,” Zoeller said in a news release. “This is not just a bottle of bourbon; it is a legacy. What better way to show appreciation for my past than by creating this liquid that can be enjoyed for years to come. I brought my dad, Chet, out of retirement to help create this nod to our heritage. We are honored to share Marian’s spirit through this exceptionally bold and balanced blend.”

Jefferson’s Marian McLain Bourbon

The new whiskey is a blend of five bourbons. The whiskey is made up of…

  • 40% 11-year-old Kentucky bourbon
  • 21% 14-year-old Tennessee bourbon
  • 17% rum-cask-finished bourbon
  • 14% Wheated double-barrel bourbon
  • 8% 8-year-old Kentucky bourbon

Jefferson’s Marian McLain Bourbon is bottled at 102 proof and available nationwide at select retailers, restaurants and bars. It has a suggested retail price of $300 per 750-milliliter bottle.

Alongside the launch of the bourbon, Jefferson’s teamed up with business mogul and “Shark Tank” star Barbara Corcoran to launch the Marian McLain Entrepreneurial Fund.

Tasting Jefferson’s Marian McLain

Marian McLain

(Photo: David Morrow)

We had the chance to taste Jefferson’s Marian McLain Bourbon. Keep your eyes peeled for our official review coming soon, but in the meantime, here are our first-impression tasting notes:

Nose: Sweet, dessert-forward aromas waft up from the glass. Custard, vanilla, cocoa, Honeycrisp apple, orange peel and caramelized banana

Taste: Great mouthfeel with a thick, oily viscosity. The palate is fruity, nutty and balanced with a great oak structure. There’s a little heat but not too much. Notes of banana, brown sugar, toasted pecans and peanuts, raisins, cherries and raspberries, and cinnamon sugar. The rum-finished portion of the blend shows itself with a tropical rum funk.

Finish: Long. Nuttiness from the palate carries over with pecans and walnuts, joined by lemon and orange candies, blueberry yogurt, pineapple, oak and a touch of ash.

Overall: This is a lovely, balanced pour. It delivers excellent viscosity and a good balance of fruit, nuttiness and dessert-forward character.

About Jefferson’s Bourbon

Jefferson's Spirits

Images from the Jefferson’s Distillery in Crestwood, Kentucky. (Photos: Madison Kopta)

Jefferson’s bourbon is best known for its “Aged at Sea” bourbon — which is exactly what the name suggests. Zoeller developed the idea to ensure a continual movement of liquid in the barrels that he believed would effectively speed up maturation.

In 2012, Zoeller partnered with OCEARCH, a nonprofit dedicated to studying and tracking marine species, to help him test this theory.

Zeller boarded five barrels of bourbon onto a 126-foot Cat-powered vessel, dubbed MV OCEARCH. The first batch spent three years at sea, passing through the Panama Canal six times.

Zoeller was pleased with the results, saying the sugars in the whiskey had caramelized, leading to a whiskey with syrupy viscosity and dark color.

Deeming the experiment a success, Jefferson’s has continued aging barrels of whiskey at sea.

In December, Jefferson’s parent company, Pernod Ricard, announced plans to build a $250 million distillery for Jefferson’s in Marion County, Kentucky.

Madison Kopta contributed to this story.

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David Morrow is the managing editor of Whiskey Raiders and has been with the company since September 2021. David has worked in journalism since 2015 and has had bylines at Sports Illustrated, Def Pen, the Des Moines Register and the Quad City Times. David holds a Bachelor of Arts in Communication from Saint Louis University and a Master of Science in Journalism from Northwestern University's Medill School of Journalism. When he’s not tasting the newest exciting whiskey releases, David enjoys spending time with his wife and dog, watching sports and traveling.