A documentary celebrating 25 years of Jefferson’s Bourbon.

Jefferson’s Founder Trey Zoeller + Bourbon Pursuit

Reflect on the past 25 years as we discuss what it was like trying to break into a spirits community that didn’t want newcomers and the hurdles (and lightbulb moments) that come with it.


Founded in 1997, Jefferson’s is the brainchild of Trey Zoeller and his father Chet, a famed bourbon historian. They were continuing a family whiskey tradition that goes back to Trey’s 8th generation grandmother who was arrested in 1799 for the “production and sales of spirituous liquors.” His curious and experimental mindset has allowed him to push the boundaries of bourbon whiskey. Upholding tradition, yet always discovering new possibilities.


OCEARCH, a globally recognized nonprofit dedicated to the study and tracking of keystone marine species such as great white sharks and tiger sharks, sends ships all over the world in an effort to monitor the health of our oceans by studying its apex predators. In 2012, Jefferson’s Bourbon founder and master blender Trey Zoeller partnered with OCEARCH founder and fellow Kentucky native, Chris Fischer, to test out a theory: what happens to straight bourbon whiskey when it’s aged at sea?

Ocean Voyages

Jefferson’s Ocean: Aged at Sea ® Bourbon – A boat is a singularly uncommon place to age bourbon whiskey. But when inspiration struck Trey Zoeller on the deck of his friend Chris Fischer’s research ship, he couldn’t help but imagine the possibilities. While watching Jefferson’s Reserve bourbon rock gently in its bottle, Trey and Chris wondered what would happen to bourbon aged on the bow of a ship. How would the constant agitation of the sea affect the aging process of Jefferson’s bourbon whiskey? Three years later, they got their answer: the constant agitation and changing climate imparted a sweet, caramelized flavor reminiscent of dark rum, while the salty ocean air and sea spray gave the bourbon the savory, briny character of an Islay Scotch whiskey.


The Kentucky Artisan Distillery is the official home of Jefferson’s Bourbon. Distilling, blending, bottling of Jefferson’s special bourbon whiskey releases is done here. It’s also here at KAD that innovative whiskey ideas like the Barrel Aged Manhattan, Wine Cask Finishes, Wood Experiments and Rum Cask Finishes have all become realities. This is the home base from which Trey Zoeller is continually testing the boundaries of bourbon whiskey.

Here you can explore the full offerings of Jefferson’s Bourbon, learn about our many innovative maturation techniques, and get behind-the-scenes tours of a real working bourbon whiskey distillery.