Revisiting the Classics: Jack Daniel’s Old No. 7

The legendary Tennessee whiskey distillery has been on an innovation kick recently, but does its core product hold up?

February 14, 2024 2:23 pm
Jack Daniel's Old No. 7
While the ABV has dipped lower over the years, Jack Daniel's Old No. 7 stays pretty much the same.
Jack Daniel's

Welcome to Revisiting the Classics, a new series where we provide a fresh perspective on iconic and beloved bottles.

What we’re drinking: Jack Daniel’s Old No. 7

Where it’s from: Based in Lynchburg, Tennessee, Jack Daniel’s was founded in 1866, making it the first registered distillery within the United States. The whiskey brand is popular for its “Lincoln County Process,” a multi-day filtration method in which newly distilled whiskey trickles through 10 feet of densely-packed sugar maple charcoal.

Why we’re drinking this: The flagship Old No. 7 bottle makes up about 95% of sales for Jack Daniel’s each year. So even when Master Distiller Chris Fletcher told us back in 2022 that “innovation has been a huge priority” for the brand the past couple of years — which they’ve certainly proven through everything from age statements to hazmat whiskeys — it still comes back to the iconic bottle.

During my early 20s, Jack was the only whiskey I knew how to order, and I’d inevitably get a Jack and Coke. While I still like the drink (and the new canned version is surprisingly good, and by surprisingly I mean the majority of canned whiskey drinks are pretty meh) I also find it too sweet, at least when it’s made with the standard 80-proof JD. Thankfully, the folks at Jack Daniel’s have listened. They offer a standout Bottled in Bond version that hits the 100-proof sweet spot in bourbon/Tennessee whiskey, along with a bevy of other higher-proof options. 

Revisiting the Classics: Knob Creek 12 Is an Ideal Bourbon
Kicking off a new series that provides a fresh perspective on classic spirits

Which means I haven’t had the original, on its own, in many years. “We’ll have a new product or two every year, so things have changed,” Jack Daniel’s historian Nelson Eddy says. “But a lot hasn’t.” 

To see what hasn’t changed, I tried Old No. 7 neat, on ice and in a Jack and Coke. 

Tastes of new whiskey expressions from Jack Daniel's, circa 2022
While Old No. 7 accounts for most sales, Jack Daniel’s has been experimenting with new releases.
Kirk Miller

How it tastes: Coming at 40% ABV, there’s a lot of burnt caramel and brown sugar on the nose, with a hint of nuttiness.  A bit thin on the mouthfeel, the fruitier notes (tropical fruit, banana) arrive mid-palate along with the expected vanilla flavors. Going back again, it reminds me a lot of banana bread. It’s a bit sweet, very mellow (natch) and lacks the kick and bolder flavors of the higher-proof options. 

It’s fine! And as a now experienced whiskey drinker, I’ll go back to drinking Bottled in Bond — particularly for the Jack and Coke — or Triple Mash. What I will say is that Old No. 7 didn’t surprise me. If you’re at a bar and unsure of what to order, you’re going to get a consistent product with a familiar flavor profile —and if you normally don’t love whiskey, it’s a really good place to start. Or time travel back to before 1987, when Jack was being released at 90 proof. 

Fun fact: Released in 2021, Chasing Whiskey is an entertaining feature-length documentary about Jack Daniel’s that includes a few celebrity appearances (John Grisham, Eric Church, Shooter Jennings). The movie itself is structured to follow the delivery of Old No. 7 bottles around the globe, including a single bottle to a bar in Australia’s outback. 

Where to buy: You can find Jack Daniel’s Old No. 7 in more than 165 countries and at pretty much any liquor store in the United States (or world). But if you’re not in a rush, order it here.


Join America's Fastest Growing Spirits Newsletter THE SPILL. Unlock all the reviews, recipes and revelry — and get 15% off award-winning La Tierra de Acre Mezcal.