Mrs. B meets… Jack Daniels

Update Oct 2012 – Mrs. B has just tried the new Jack Daniels White Rabbit – check it out here

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At a family gathering this weekend past, a group of us brought together our collections of products made at the Jack Daniel’s Distillery in Lynchburg, Tennessee. The aim? One big comparative tasting. For many, Jack Daniel’s Old No. 7, with its familiar black and white label, is a regular, well-trusted whiskey, but the distillery produces (or has produced in the past) a range of other offerings, too, and I haven’t always thought it obvious what the others “bring to the table”, or so to speak. This was a chance for us to explore the range and compare notes.

Not all of the bottles contained straight whiskey – one was a winter punch and, another, Jack Daniel’s relatively new honeyed whiskey liqueur – but we compared each on the same, simple 10 point scale, based solely on our personal preference. As a result, I’ve included each reviewer’s rating separately, in a miniature chart after each bottling’s notes.

Jack Daniels Old No. 7

No. 7 is a sour mash Tennessee Whiskey, which is a bourbon whiskey that is only produced in the American state of Tennessee. It is charcoal filtered once and bottled at 40%ABV.

The nose was sweet, with a touch of nail varnish alcohol at the end, occasionally masking hints of dry cherry and almond. It tasted of sweet cherry, especially towards the end. Its aftertaste was of dry wood, with hints of varnish, similar to the nose.

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Gentleman Jack

A “superpremium” version of Jack Daniel’s, this is twice charcoal filtered and bottled at 40%ABV.

The nose of Gentleman Jack was a lot more mellow than that of No. 7, with stronger hints of almond and straw, and a noticeable reduction in the level of varnish-type alcohol. The taste was also softer, being a little creamy and sweeter, with charred wood on the finish.
Smoother and much easier to drink neat, all of us liked it more than No. 7, believing it to be a more “relaxed” version.

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Green Label

A younger, lighter Tennessee Whiskey made in the same way as No. 7.

An intriguing nose: a smoother, more creamy version of that of No. 7; one reviewer caught a hint of mashed potato in its savoury butteriness. There was also a lot more fruit on the nose, with cherry in particular playing a stronger role.
Smoother on the tongue, but with a very similar flavour profile (understandably!) to the previous two whiskies, the Green Label tasted generally “less rough around the edges”, sitting neatly between the more harsh No. 7 and the more mellow Gentleman Jack.

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Single Barrel

As you would imagine, the whiskey in this bottle all comes from a single, carefully selected barrel (so individual bottles may vary). It is bottled at 45%ABV.

The nose was less dominant on this one and much smoother and sweeter; vanilla made an appearance. Despite this, it tasted stronger, with a character more similar to Gentleman Jack than the others, with more oak coming through and a definite char “bite” on the finish.

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Silver Select

Bottled at 50%ABV, Silver Select is a stronger, more intense variation of the same Tennessee Whiskey. Like Single Barrel, your bottle will all have come from a single barrel, and so different bottlings are likely to differ slightly.

This had a much sweeter nose, with considerably more rich caramel. To taste, it was initially soft and sweet, and seemed more viscous. It also packs a powerful punch towards the end, given its strength. This seemed to mask the flavours, suggesting that the drink may work better after being cut with a little branch water.

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Winter Jack

This 15%ABV ready-mixed punch was created for the German market and combines No. 7, apple juice and a variety of winter spices, including cinnamon and cloves.

An exceptionally novel and sweet nose of apple bubblegum and stewed apples is measured slightly by a hint of acidity. It tasted of light, cloudy apple juice with the addition of honey and oak. It reminded me of apple crumble, with its hints of apple, oats, honey and cinnamon. Exceptionally easy to drink.

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Tennessee Honey Whiskey Liqueur

A spiced honey whiskey liqueur made with No. 7 and bottled at 35%ABV.

The nose was dominated by the honey and was soft, but rich, with notes of flapjack and sticky maple tart. Like the nose, the taste was smooth and rich, with honey, pecans and maple syrup, all highlighting a good, bourbon base. With a comforting warmth and dry finish that we were all thankful for, this was a definite favourite.

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In Conclusion
Jack Daniel’s is a well-loved Distillery by many (I’ve always liked their advertising campaigns, too) and my resounding view following this tasting is that they have managed to create a little something for everybody. Particular favourites that stood out in our tasting were the younger Green Label, which – with its smoothness, but no lack of flavour – everyone found much more pleasant to drink neat than No. 7. Similarly, Gentleman Jack did very well with all of the panel, with everyone appreciating the more relaxed (but not weaker) style.

The Winter Jack and Tennessee Honey were also very popular, showing that the Distillery’s strength isn’t limited to straight whiskey. Although they might not be to everyone’s taste, I would highly recommend the Honey Liqueur in particular to anyone who doesn’t normally like Jack Daniel’s, but likes liqueurs. I, for one, hope that the Distillery keep experimenting with different expressions of their whiskey.

– Mrs. B

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2 thoughts on “Mrs. B meets… Jack Daniels

  1. Pingback: Jim Beam Honey – WOW26 | Summer Fruit Cup

  2. Pingback: WOW33 – Bushmills Irish Honey – A Review | Summer Fruit Cup

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