Bright, clean, and fruity, with spearmint and oak, this smells of chewy marmalade, with pretty wildflower, waxy crayon, and solvent notes adding intrigue. On the palate the fruit feels dense—dried apricot and a cardboard box of prunes—before veering toward citrus and Peanut Chews. The generous finish lingers with bitter orange peel, vanilla, and sweet creamed corn. Complex, fresh, and immensely likable.
An inspiring surprise from America’s largest whiskey maker. Distilled and put through the Lincoln County Process just like Old No. 7, the distillate was filled at 100 proof into heavily toasted, lightly charred barrels—similar to what would have been used in the 19th century—that were placed in the highest, hottest parts of the warehouses. The whiskey is pure bliss, with aromas of peanut butter crackers, honey, dark plums, and gingerbread cookies. Chewy and rich, with dark chocolate, blackberry cobbler, allspice, cloves, and refined oak, it retains liveliness and verve. Longtime Jack fans will find a lot to love here, as will those who haven’t revisited the brand in years. Number 3 in the 2018 Top 20
There’s a lot going on here, and it starts in an unusual place—corn, specifically corn husk, followed by caramel, vanilla, oak, banana, pineapple, crème brûlée, vanilla, a hint of cedar, cherrywood, sautéed porcini mushroom, and cinnamon. Over a mouth coating texture, the velvety structure drips down the jawline, offering butterscotch, paprika, nutmeg, baked apple pie, bread pudding, caramel chew, roasted walnuts, and baking spice, which lingers over a long finish. Must-have Tennessee whiskey. Price is per liter.
Jack Daniel’s Special Release 2020 Single Barrel Barrel-Proof, 65.4%
Rye Whiskey | $65
Concord grape jelly, blackberry jam, Coca-Cola spices, leather, iced tea, tobacco barn, and maple syrup on the nose; with water, the fruitiness blooms and takes on sweet banana and marzipan. The palate is hot, with heaps of baking spice, cacao nibs, and mouthwatering oak; add some water and the rich interplay of dark fruit and velvety spices returns, along with dark chocolate-covered banana, cola, and chocolaty oak. Warming and lengthy finish.
Jack Daniel’s Tennessee Tasters’ Selection High Angel’s Share Barrels, 53.5%
Bourbon/Tennessee | $40/375ml
The nose entices with confections: milk chocolate and nougat candy bars, Whoppers, and honey. The flavors unwind vivid and bright, with warming candied ginger, vanilla-frosted birthday cake, a beam of bright citrus, and toasted nuts and baking spice uniting with Jack Daniel’s estery house character to suggest warm banana bread. Lots of drying oak seals the finish.
Part of the Tennessee Tasters’ Selection series, this rye was matured in barrels located at the top of barrel house #1-05 in Lynchburg. The nose offers custard, coffee cake, bitter orange, orchard fruit, spice, and toasty oak. Candied apple and orange fill the palate, along with black cherries, cinnamon bread, and pepper. Green apple, dark chocolate, and raisins mark the finish. Water or ice recommended. (Available at the distillery and in Tennessee only)
Rich and sweet on the nose: crème brûlée, unfinished oak furniture, circus peanuts, overripe warm melon. Corn puffs and sweet cornbread, vanilla cream, oak density, firm heat, and an affably full mouthfeel that doesn’t thin till the very end. Easily one of the best Jack Daniel’s whiskeys I’ve ever had, but the price is jaw-dropping even today (the package does include a previously-unreleased 1966 concert recording of Old Blue Eyes). Price is per 1 liter.
An herbal, lightly malty nose starts with notes of sweet barrel char, cherry hard candy, raspberry pastilles, and a hint of green banana. The palate is rich, with flavors of chocolate and burnt espresso beans, bitter orange, pepper spice, and burnt almonds. The lengthy finish has notes of candied raspberries riding atop some deeper notes of allspice and pepper. Balanced and fruity overtones throughout, anchored by earthiness and spice underneath. (24,000 bottles)
With a mashbill of 70% rye, 18% corn, and 12% malted barley, this rye doesn’t disappoint. Butter-toasted rye bread and vanilla, with hints of herbs and campfire smoke. Then fruit…a lot of fruit: pear, banana, pineapple, followed by a bevy of sweets—caramel, butterscotch, and toffee, mainly—with a delightful cinnamon bread finish. This skews more toward bourbon than the Indiana ryes, and that’s a good thing.
Jack Daniel’s Single Barrel (Barrel #15-4956), 65.85%
Bourbon/Tennessee | $65
Hot barrel wood, like opening a rickhouse in July; light allspice, vanilla, and fiery alcohol. Drinkable without water, surprisingly. Hot syrup, corn sugar caramel, tannic oak, and a bit of stickiness. An interesting look at Jack Daniel’s: unblended, undiluted, untamed. It’s still Jack—sweet, insistent—but it’s taller, bigger. I could say I’d like even more heft, more complexity…but would that be asking Jack to be something it simply is not?
Jack Daniel’s Tennessee Tasters’ Selection Toasted Jamaica Allspice Wood-Finished, 50%
Bourbon/Tennessee | $40/375 ml
Finished in Jamaican allspice barrels for six months. Candied bakery shop notes on the nose, with grape jelly, cherry cola, vanilla, and abundant spice. A burst of cooked dark fruit greets the palate, followed by bitter chocolate, coffee, and fragrant oak. A warming finish offers more spice, candied kiwi, and chocolate. Powerful and spiced, with subtly interwoven flavors and superbly balanced oak. (24,000 bottles)
Jack Daniel’s Tennessee Tasters’ Selection Hickory Smoked, 50%
Bourbon/Tennessee | $40/375ml
Instantly evokes buttered pancakes drowning in maple syrup, but on closer inspection there is a lot of depth here, with a distinct charred-hickory note that suggests smoked meat or back bacon. Flavors slowly steer closer to the Jack profile, with tropical fruit, grape soda, and Pez candies on the finish lingering with a note of spent tobacco pipe.
Jack Daniel’s Tennessee Tasters’ Selection Barrel Reunion #1, 45%
Bourbon/Tennessee | $40/375 ml.
Reunions are usually sweet, and this is no exception, with aromas of blackberry jam, dark plums, orange Popsicle, grape candy, almond, and cracked grain. It turns nutty on the palate—roasted peanuts, almond croissant—with raspberry jam and oatmeal cookie. The full and rounded finish continues the nutty, jammy flavors, along with oak and milk chocolate. Finished in red wine barrels that had previously been used to age Jack Daniel’s.
Quite confectionery and billowing with fruity candies—banana taffy, bubble gum, Pixy Stix, red cinnamon gumdrops, and Swedish Fish. The palate offers black cherry soda, more banana, and a bit of grapefruit. Very fruity, with just enough oak to deliver a drying finish. Fans of Jack will be like kids in the candy store, with the added proof and intensity. (Travel Retail exclusive)
Like opening a lunchbox in elementary school: you’ll find the distinct aromas of peanut butter sandwich with strawberry jam and a smear of Marshmallow Fluff, plus a Little Debbie Oatmeal Cream Pie, and some apple blossom and tea rose. Soft and sweet in the mouth, with plenty of fruit and flowers: banana split topped with crushed pistachios, rose oil, white chocolate, halva. This whiskey is finished in charred maple barrels and undergoes a second filtration with the Lincoln County Process.
This new Jack Daniel’s offering is marketed as being “bold and smooth.” It certainly is bolder when compared to the standard Jack Daniel’s offering, with a mélange of corn, creamy vanilla, toasted caramel, bright citrus, and dry resinous oak spiked with cinnamon. The smoothness ends, however, when the oak grip intensifies on the finish. Adding ice does tame the oak, if that’s your thing. Still, I’d prefer the oak be more restrained. Price is per liter.
A host of sweet confections—caramel corn, candied apples, toasted marshmallow, bubble gum, and gobs of banana taffy—are reminiscent of a warm summer night at the fair. The palate speaks of orchard fruits, sweet golden apples, and poached pear, as hints of peach and cocoa appear on the clean, enjoyable, and succinct finish.
What begins as a banana, oat, and Malt-O-Meal delight turns into honey and potato chips. This is followed by cookie dough, dark cherries, sweet-potato chips, beets, dehydrated pineapple, pine nuts, and oak. Its medium finish offers a mouthful of banana. If you love banana, you’ll love this whiskey.
Clear as Cave Spring water, a mashbill of 70% rye, “mellowed” by charcoal, and ignorant of barrel-aging. It is white dog-brash: fresh wet grain, trampled grass, and a salty tinge. The spirit is pleasurably smooth and cool, sweet in body with a bitter film of rye spice. A gentlemanly clear spirit that’s itching to get into a cocktail; my only real complaint is the price. (This is “a taste of what’s to come,” so expect an aged rye to follow.)
Continuing progress on Jack Daniel’s rye whiskey; this one is 2 years old and labeled “straight.” Pale amber. New make sharpness, sawn oak, hard candy, and a flip of cinnamon bark: driven, simple, insistent nose. Thin on the palate: sweet, with an oily overlay of bitter grass and grainy flatness. A dry, contracting finish. Not flawed, but not particularly pleasant, either. Someone tell Jack; craft distillers get $50 for young rye because they’re small. JD should be half that.
Initially, it’s earth and fruit. This develops into sawdust, more earth, and bananas. From here, it’s green pepper, banana nut bread, and warm corn tortillas over a soft mouthfeel with little complexity. This will work in a pinch and it’s great in ginger ale, Coca-Cola, or lighter cocktails, but it’s probably best over ice.