Review: Jack Daniel’s Crafts an Unexpected Take on the Single Malt
The iconic Tennessee whiskey brand successfully embraces a single-grain mashbill (and a long finish in sherry casks)
Where it’s from: Jack Daniel’s, the iconic Tennessee whiskey brand that crafted a standout American malt earlier this year as part of its new Triple Mash expression
Why we’re drinking this: For the fifth special release of their single barrel products, Jack Daniel’s goes into an entirely new direction: They’re utilizing a 100% malted barley grain bill. And then finishing the whiskey for two additional years in sherry casks.
If that sounds like another style of whiskey (or we should say whisky), well, not quite. “We were never trying to recreate what they’re doing in Scotland,” says Chris Fletcher, Jack Daniel’s Master Distiller. “This is not a Scotch style, this is a malt whiskey unique to Jack Daniel’s and done in a U.S. way.”
The charcoal mellowing and use of Jack Daniel’s proprietary yeast — along with the initial aging of the whiskey in new, charred American white oak barrels in Tennessee — does position the product as, yes, something unique in a U.S. way. Still, even Fletcher admits he wasn’t sure what he had.
“This was outside of our comfort zone,” he says. “It’s not gonna be what people expect from a bourbon or a Tennessee whiskey release.”
How it tastes: For this special release, the whiskey passes through Jack Daniel’s traditional charcoal mellowing process and is then matured in new, charred American white oak barrels for at least four years, before finishing for an additional two years in Spanish Oloroso sherry casks from the Antonio Paez Lobato Cooperage. It’s then bottled at cask proof.
Our sample came in at 105.7 proof.
The first thing you’ll notice during your pour is a ruby-red streak. On the nose, you’ll find a lot of red fruit and cocoa. Because the mashbill doesn’t include corn or rye, you’re not getting the typical sweetness or spiciness you’d expect from an American whiskey on the palate, but you will get some candied apple notes, a bit of cherry and a nice amount of oak.
There is just enough of Jack Daniel’s DNA here (particularly in the fruit and the balance) that this release doesn’t seem too radical for the brand. But it does serve as an excellent gateway to other styles of single malt that aren’t Scotch.
Fun fact: You can expect a single malt release from Jack Daniel’s next summer, hopefully just around the time (or soon after) the TTB makes American Single Malt an official booze category.
Where to buy: The Jack Daniel’s Twice Barreled Special Release American Single Malt is now available nationwide in limited quantities for $70 for a 700 ml size.
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