When Jack Daniel’s drops a new whiskey, it’s a pretty big deal. The world’s best-selling whiskey brand is known for its super reliable Old No. 7 black label Tennessee whiskey, which is better than you remember it. But Jack Daniel’s as a whiskey brand is much more than just Old No. 7. There are dozens of expressions released by the brand that touch on everything from single malt to barrel finishes to Tennessee rye whisky, which is a truly underrated arm of the JD game.
The two latter aspects are what we’re focusing on today. Jack just released two brand new Tennessee rye expressions that have special barrel finishes. The whiskeys were selected by the wife and husband team Lexie Phillips (Assistant Distiller and Master Taster) and Josh Phillips (Taster) as a duo. So they’re meant to be enjoyed side by side, so to speak. The actual juice comes in a half-bottle hip flask and will be available at the distillery and in select Tennessee retailers and bars. That makes this whiskey pretty damn special albeit fleeting.
Still, Jack’s rye whiskey is one of the better ryes in the whiskey game. Their standard Tennessee rye — which is the base of these two new drops — is subtle and delicious with a great body for cocktails, especially Manhattans, Sazeracs, and old fashioneds. A more refined version of that whiskey is very exciting, so let’s dive in and see what’s in these bottles.
Also Read: The Top Five Rye Whiskey from the Last Six Months on UPROXX
Jack Daniel’s Distillery Series Straight Tennessee Rye Whiskey Finished in High Toast Maple Barrels
Average Price: $42 (375ml bottle)
The whiskey is created with a mash of 70 percent rye, 18 percent corn, and 12 percent malted barley. After sugar maple charcoal filtration, that rye is aged for four years in new oak before going into a high-toast, no-char maple wood barrel for another year of rest. Finally, the whiskey is batched from those maple barrels and proofed down for bottling.
Sweet notes of rum-raisin, creamed honey, walnut-laden banana bread, sweet cinnamon, fresh nutmeg, brown butter, and sticky maple syrup mingle on the nose with a whisper of sour mash and pine bark. The palate dances through notes of cherry hand pies covered in powdered sugar icing next to dark chocolate and pecan nut clusters with a hint of vanilla seeds, poppy seed pound cake, and a little fresh wood paneling next to fresh leather and a hint of salted caramel ice cream in a waffle cone. The end is super soft and slowly meanders through the poppy seed pound cake, vanilla, and soft and very subtle threads of cedar bark.
This is really nice whiskey. There’s a lovely sweetness to the body of the pour that is inviting and fresh, even convivial. It makes you feel warm inside and puts a smile on your face. Drinking it neat was a pleasure as well with almost zero alcohol burn.
91/100 — This is an excellent rye whiskey.
Jack Daniel’s Distillery Series Straight Tennessee Rye Whiskey Finished in High Toast Oak Barrels
Average Price: $42 (375ml bottle)
This is the same rye as standard Jack Daniel’s, 70/18/12 rye/corn/malted barley. In this case, the hot juice was charcoal filtered and then loaded into new oak for five-year rest. Then the whiskey was re-barreled into new high-toast, no-char oak barrels for nearly three more years of mellowing. Finally, the best barrels were batched, proofed, and bottled.
The nose bursts forth with pine tar and cedar kindling next to hints of garam masala, bitter dark cacao powder, blackstrap molasses, deep-fried poblano, and a whisper of dark chocolate cream pie cut with darkly roasted instant coffee powder. Cinnamon cookies lead to salted caramel cut with clove and star anise next to a hint of Red Delicious apple core and skins before dark chocolate and molasses kick it with a slight hint of rum-raisin. The finish sweetens with a hint of that cherry pie filling vibe from Jack rye next to a mild sense of spicy ginger snaps and cinnamon scones.
This is a nice rye. I’m sort of on the fence compared to how sweet and lush the last one was.
That said, I tried this again with a little water and it really bloomed in the glass with a sense of rich and creamy toffee next to creamy espresso and dark chocolate pudding with a hint of marzipan.
85/100 — This is solid rye but I feel like I need to play with it a bit more to get a handle on the flavors in a cocktail context.