This isn’t Old No. 7. While there are some familiar elements to the latest whiskey release from Jack Daniel’s, the Tennessee distillery’s new American Single Malt release is notably unique in a number of ways.
To start, it’s the first permanent expression from Jack Daniel’s crafted from 100% malted barley. As well, it’s only offered in a one-liter bottle. It’s also the first permanent expression to undergo a final maturation in Oloroso Sherry casks (last year they had a single barrel limited release that matured in a similar manner).
Review: Jack Daniel’s Crafts an Unexpected Take on the Single MaltThe iconic Tennessee whiskey brand successfully embraces a single-grain mashbill (and a long finish in sherry casks)
“This is one of the most difficult things that I’ve been involved with in my 20-some years in distilleries,” admits Master Distiller Chris Fletcher. “Working with a single grain, with barley…it’s certainly a pretty far departure from a corn-based whiskey.”
It certainly is. Another change is the barley itself — the distillery’s flagship product and several other iterations (including the rye) have malted barley in the mashbill, but not like this. “After we distilled the first couple of rounds, we realized we wanted to make some tweaks,” says Fletcher. “And one of the biggest things we did was change the barley we typically source for making Tennessee whiskey and rye whiskey.”
That said, there are some shared characteristics here with other JD products. It’s the same yeast strain, the distillate still undergoes 10 feet of charcoal mellowing (aka the Lincoln County Process) and the 1L bottle, while not the usual size, certainly has the appearance of a classic Jack Daniel’s whiskey.
And then there’s the Sherry. Aging for an extra three years in gigantic Sherry butts (casks) is not the norm for Jack Daniel’s (or really many American whiskeys). “That’s a big thing,” says Fletcher. “Three years, it obviously brings a lot of richness and character to the game. It’s not really finishing; that’s like another full-on aging.” (Fletcher doesn’t think three years will be the norm for the expression in the near future.)
So how does it taste? There’s no corn sweetness or rye spice here. And the type of fruity (sometimes banana-y) notes you’ll find in other Jack Daniel’s products aren’t here, although the Sherry certainly adds its own berry character, along with milk chocolate, cherry, honey and a bit of nuttiness. Odd to say for an American whiskey, but if you like Sherry-forward whiskey (or “Sherry bombs”) you’ll dig this one.
Interested in trying? You’ll need to travel: Jack Daniel’s American Single Malt ($99.99) is only available now in select duty-free retail locations across the globe.
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