2012 sees the 120th anniversary of The White Rabbit Saloon, the saloon that Mr. Jack Daniels owned and operated in Lynchburg, Tennessee. To celebrate this, the Jack Daniels Distillery have released a special version of their Old No.7 variety (for details on other variations of Jack Daniels, check out our comprehensive tasting here) named after this famed watering hole.
The main difference in this version is that it is bottled at 43%ABV, rather than the 40%ABV that’s common for the Black Label No.7 whiskey in the UK and US today. Funnily enough, going back thirty years, Jack Daniels No.7 was bottled at 45%ABV, which was then reduced to 43%ABV in the late 1980s and reduced further to its current 40%ABV in 2002.
The whiskey comes in a presentation box with very decorative labelling and verbiage relating to the experiences of customers in Mr. Daniels’ own saloon. The bottle is in keeping with the new, clean-line style of Jack Daniels in the UK and, frankly, I’ve not yet come round to it as for me it has less character.
But let’s get on to the more substantial and important matter of taste.
1) On its own
Colour: Amber, with a tinge of red.
Nose: Warm, soft and slightly sweet caramel and vanilla. Faint hints of banana toffee that lead to nail polish if your nose lingers too long.
Taste: Smooth to start, being sweet and woody, but this flavour is quickly overtaken by an artificial tasting, bitter, creamy note that lasts. The finish is then quite clean, dry and woody, with a pleasant, light note of banana toffee. It’s slightly warming, but not forceful. Overall, I couldn’t help but be disappointed with this whiskey; the beginning and finish were both so good, but that bitter note in between was just horrid. Interestingly, where I tasted bitterness, DTS didn’t taste much at all, finding it bland.
2) Old Fashioned
This has a lovely nose of smoky, charred banana toffee. The banana and toffee notes follow through on the taste, along with vanilla, but – oddly – this Old Fashioned isn’t at all sweet and there’s a notable lack of flavour at the front of the tongue. There are hints of bitterness before a finish of light wood. Although the nose and finish were good, the flavour of this cocktail left something to be desired.
As an interesting experiment, half of the Old Fashioned was decanted and placed in the freezer. This improved it greatly, adding a light, cherry note to the nose and stronger notes of wood and a hint of coffee to the taste.
A promising start of wood and caramel is quickly overtaken by that same, persistent bitter, dry note, which is distracting and artificial. The finish was odd, being slightly creamy, before becoming short and dry. Definitely not the best way to enjoy this whiskey.
4) with Ginger Ale
A light, traditional bourbon nose of wood and vanilla, tinged with a refreshing sweetness. Initially dry, this drink then fades into that bitter flavour. The finish is clean and short, with hints of sweet ginger. Although I still didn’t like the bitter aspects, this was my favourite of the drinks that I tried.
I really wanted to like this whiskey. I adore the label and story behind the White Rabbit Saloon and think that the concept of “sippin’ whiskies” that people can enjoy with friends on its own, straight from the bottle, is a great one. Unfortunately, I just didn’t like the bitter taste of this one, either on its own or in cocktails; my favourite way of drinking it was with ginger ale or in the intriguing frozen Old Fashioned. We do, however, have some bigger fans of Jack Daniels in our family and I look forward to seeing what they think of this; when I do, I’ll update this post.
– Mrs. B.
Jack Daniel’s White Rabbit Saloon 120th Anniversary is available for around £26 for 70cl from The Whisky Exchange.