It’s a Thursday night and I’ve just finished my first day back in the office after a month overseas. I’ve been landed for just over 24 hours. If you don’t need a whisky then, I don’t know when you do. Except tonight, I’m not drinking whisky, I’m drinking whiskey.
Whisky Girl Fact #17: I’m not precious, I treat all spirits equally. In fact a fair portion of the time, I reach for bourbon or rye before Scotch. I go on Bourbocation with my friends that live in the South of the US. I’ve been to a decent chunk of the Bourbon trail. Whisky or whiskey, with or without an E, whisky by any measure is just fine with me.
Where was I? Oh, yes. At The Jefferson, getting reacquainted with a favourite watering hole and sitting down to taste a selection of Jack Daniel’s finest. Tennessee Whisky holds a special place in my heart, after all, Nashville is a home away from home.
The joy of doing a vertical tasting like this is getting to experience several of the expressions side by side. I always think of Jack Daniel’s as the sweeter, more mellow and rounded than other bourbons. That probably comes from the unique charcoal filtering method they use. Sometimes they even use it twice. Despite the insane 1980s and 90s product placement that saw ‘Jack’n’Coke’ reach iconic popularity as beverage of choice, Jack has always had a little more story than that. The legends are numerous and that’s my other favourite thing about tastings. You get to hear the stories, not just from the hosts but often the punters too.
I was not disappointed – people talked about old buddies who traded for bargains during the war, speculated on where Old No.7 got it’s name and passed conjecture on the smaller details of Jack’s life. He was an interesting character for sure, essentially inheriting the business and way of life as a boy, never marrying and working his way around regulations and restrictions. Jack Daniel’s still resides in a dry county today. America can sure be weird sometimes.
To tasting; brief notes this time.
Gentleman Jack: From time to time in winter, I’ve been known to keep a bottle of bedside bourbon. This boy has made the cut a few times. Sweet, mellow and smooth, it benefits from double charcoal filtering but carries a rich complexity with fruit and spice notes.
Single Barrel Select: One of my favourites of the night, these barrels are individually selected as the name suggests, usually for their pronounced and distinctive notes. Vanilla, toasty oak, caramel. These are achieved at such depth because the selected barrels are aged in the highest heights of the warehouse, where more extreme temperatures pull every micron of flavour out of the wood and into the spirit.
Old No. 7: The traditional Jack. Sweet vanilla and a hint of oak coming through that first fill. Lighter and less rich than the previous two examples but still smooth. Not a go-to whiskey for me, but when tasted in the line-up you can start to see the distinctive Jack Daniel’s flavour profile pulling through.
Rested Tennessee Rye: (Whisky Girl Fact #18: I love rye. With a passion. Could drink rye and only rye for months at a time.) This was my other favourite of the night. The traditional Jack Daniel’s notes are there – vanilla and caramel. But the rye gives a nutty spice to it. This release follows an earlier 2012 release of unaged rye. It caused quite a stir at the time, but these barrels have aged for two years to unarguably qualify as straight rye. It was delicious. Lighter in colour than you’d expect, but very sumptuous. It’s made it to my ‘buy it if you see it’ list.
Jack Daniel’s Sinatra Select: Possibly one of the greatest brand partnerships to ever be created from the age of Mad Men, Frank Sinatra was rarely seen without Jack Daniel’s to hand. The Sinatra Select is a special release. To be honest, it didn’t wow me – because it stood out as so different from the flavour profiles we’d been seeing elements of the whole night. Big, robust and spicy in parts – it did feel like kissing Sinatra on one of his bad days.