Jack Daniel’s Just Replaced Its Rye Whiskey With Something Better

The Tennessee distillery's new Bonded Rye ups the proof and the flavor

Jack Daniel's Bonded Rye, just released, with a whiskey cocktail on a table
Jack Daniel's Bonded Rye, an ideal base for whiskey cocktails.
Jack Daniel's

Bad news: Jack Daniel’s is discontinuing its core rye whiskey release. Good news: They’re replacing it with a rye that’s in the same series as the best bottle the distillery has ever released.

The just-announced Jack Daniel’s Bonded Rye Whiskey is the third release in the Tennessee distillery’s new-ish Bonded Series, launched in the spring of 2022. That series includes Jack Daniel’s Bonded and Triple Mash, the latter an innovative blend of three straight bottled-in-bond whiskeys: 60% Jack Daniel’s Tennessee Rye, 20% Jack Daniel’s Tennessee Whiskey and 20% Jack Daniel’s American Malt.

I called the Triple Mash the best thing Jack Daniel’s had ever done, and noting the mashbill, you’ll see the majority of that liquid is the bottled-in-bond rye, which now gets to live on its own and as a permanent addition to JD’s core lineup of whiskey.

“Given the feedback and the reception we’ve had for our bottled-in-bond offerings over the last 18 months, [the rye] seemed like a no-brainer,” says Chris Fletcher, Jack Daniel’s Master Distiller.

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Before we dive into the taste, a little reminder of what bottled-in-bond means. It’s an official designation from 1897’s Bottled in Bond Act, one of the country’s first consumer protection laws (it started as a way to combat some bad actors in the whiskey space). A bonded whiskey must be distilled by a single distiller during a single season, matured in a government-bonded warehouse for at least four years and bottled at 100 proof. It’s pretty much a marker for quality control, and that higher ABV certainly enhances the flavors in the whiskey.

That high proof also helps in another way. “This rye is the perfect base for a whiskey cocktail,” says Fletcher. “It has exceptional balance and contrast of flavors.”

There are some characteristics of the rye that’ll be familiar to Jack Daniel’s fans. The mashbill features 12% malted barley, just like their flagship Old No. 7. It utilizes the same yeast strain as all of the distillery’s other releases, so you’ll still get a fruity and sweet top note on the nose. And the rye still undergoes the distillery’s Lincoln County Process, where the whiskey is steeped through charcoal before aging.

Jack Daniel's Bonded Rye
The Jack Daniel’s Bonded Rye bottle was inspired by an 1895 JD bottle.
Jack Daniel’s

But there are differences, too. Obviously, the rest of the mashbill emphasizes rye, not corn (70% and 18%, respectively). The charcoal mellowing process is only three feet, not the usual 10 feet for Tennessee Whiskey. And you may struggle to find that signature note of banana you’ll uncover in a lot of Jack Daniel’s products. “You might convince me there’s a touch of banana, but I almost have to tell myself it’s there,” Fletcher admits.

The new release was distilled in the spring of 2016, which makes it about seven years of aging. The rye grain itself is primarily sourced from western Canada. And it’s obviously 100 proof, as per the regulations of the Bottled in Bond Act. The bottle itself was inspired by the original design of the 1895 Jack Daniel’s Tennessee Whiskey bottle.

Once you sip it, the rye takes on some surprising flavors. You’ll get a lot of oak, baking spices, herbaceousness and black pepper. While sweet at first, that rye aspect hits in the mid-palate. From there, it’s a melange of apple, apricot, molasses and a noticeable barrel influence. The rye is complex and rather bold, and yes, quite ideal for a whiskey cocktail where you don’t want to emphasize the sweetness.

So even though the standard Jack Daniel’s rye (45% ABV) is going away, don’t expect the distillery to shift its other products to higher proofs — even if they have been playing with hazmat levels on some limited-edition releases, like the recent Coy Hill.

“We have no plans to raise the proof on Old No. 7,” says Fletcher. “It’s true that the American whiskey market has shifted. In the ’80s and ’90s, it was about lighter and softer. But now, even with Coy Hill, it’s not like everything has to be super high-proof. It’s not about chasing the highest proof possible. If it was, we’d do everything at barrel strength. It’s about putting the best balance and layers of flavor in a bottle.”

Jack Daniel’s Bonded Rye will be available in 700mL bottles across the U.S. for a suggested retail price of $31.99. It’s also available for pre-sale through ReserveBar, including a limited-edition Jack Daniel’s gift item while supplies last.


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