Distillery: Bernheim Distillery . Louisville, KY
Age: 15 YR
Nose: The second you’re sniffing Jack you know you’re sniffing Jack. There is a very strong astringent Jack spice that comes up first and foremost. Under that strong ambiguous spice are hints of oily charcoal, maple, brown sugar, wood, some soft sweet grains and overripe citrus.
Palate: The nose is altogether not too unpleasant. All tied together it’s not bad, but for me the taste is where it all falls apart. It starts with a strong medicinal caramel followed by some soot and burnt toffee. Swimming around in that glass are also some notes of imitation vanilla, burnt cherry pie and a slight yeastiness to it that reminds me a bit of Jim Beam white. Overall there is a strange chemically taste that runs through the whole thing. On the rocks it tightens up and brings out a bit more of the caramel.
Color: Dark Caramel
Notes: I get why Jack Daniel’s Old No. 7 is so popular. It’s not just a whiskey, it’s a symbol of rebellious freedom and doing things your own way. It’s as American as apple pie and has a very staunch division of fans and haters that’s all it’s own. It’s also a well oiled garage rock band of flavors that make it accessible for folks to drink and enjoy with their friends. It’s very easy to see why this is a daily drinker for many Americans. As a brand Jack Daniel’s has been around since 1875 and strangely enough it exists in a dry county which means that JD can be distilled there, but it can’t be consumed there so when taking a tour of the distillery the tasting at the end has to take place in the next county over. Another interesting tid bit is that like all Tennessee Whiskey Jack Daniels is technically bourbon. Jack Daniels meets all of the requirements to be a bourbon but they add one more step to the process involving sugar maple charcoal called the Lincoln County Process. During this process the raw distillate (called new make) gets filtered through sugar maple charcoal or seeped with sugar maple charcoal chips prior to aging. This is what gives most Tennessee whiskeys their unique flavor profile and might be why they go so well with BBQ. The taste is like a standard bourbon with some charred notes floating around in it. I think Jack has it’s place in the pantheon of American Whiskey and is a great gateway to curiosity about better whiskey. I definitely drank a fair amount of it in my early twenties and it lead to my curiosity about what else was out there in the world of whiskey. It was one of the catalysts that led to my later whiskey obsession and for that it holds a special little place in my liver.