Jack Daniel’s is the largest selling American whiskey brand in the world. Although it meets all the specified standards to be labelled a straight Bourbon whiskey, the company chooses to refer to their product as ‘Tennessee whiskey’. Jack Daniel’s whiskeys undergo a special filtration procedure called the Lincoln Country Process, which enables Jack Daniel’s to classify their product as ‘Tennessee whiskey’.
Jack Daniel’s is distilled from a mash bill that is predominantly corn-based, with some amounts of barley and rye thrown in. As a matter of fact, corn makes up for 80% of their mash, which is distilled and filtered through 10-feet of sugar maple charcoal bits produced on site at the distillery. This filtration process is known as the Lincoln County Process, after which Jack Daniel’s mature their spirit in new, charred Oak barrels for over two years until it is deemed ready to bottle.
For many years, Jack Daniel’s only sold one product, the Jack Daniel’s Old No. 7, which brought them unprecedented success in America. The company eventually diversified their range by adding a number of different iterations of their whiskey, introducing expressions such as the Gentleman Jack, Singe Barrel Select and many more. Today, the Jack Daniel’s core range is made up of their flagship product alongside cask-strength Tennessee whiskey, Rye whiskey, and a couple of whiskey-based liqueurs.
The story of Jack Daniel’s Tennessee whiskey began in 1875 in the city of Lynchburg, Tennessee when Jasper Newton Daniel received his inheritance from his father’s estate. Having worked for a local moonshine distiller since he was a young man, Jasper, nicknamed ‘Jack’, had gathered enough experience to create his own distilling enterprise. During his time working with the moonshine distiller, Daniel worked closely with Nathan ‘Nearest’ Green, the man who would help Jack make history.
Nearest Green, with Jack Daniel (white hat) on his left.
Nearest Green was an enslaved African-American working at the moonshine distillery, teaching everything he knew to Jack Daniel. After Daniel established is own distillery, Green began working for his as Head Distiller. He was the first African-American Head Distiller in America by many accounts, and held the position for many years until he passed away. After his death, Green’s sons, George and Eli worked for Daniel at the distillery, and even his grandsons worked at the distillery at some point. Even today, there is at least one direct descendent of Nearest Green continues to be employed at the Jack Daniel’s Distillery.
Frank Sinatra is said to have been very fond of Jack Daniel’s and Chivas Regal, and so was rock musician and member of Motorhead, Lemmy Kilmister. Jack Daniel’s commemorated Sinatra’s fondness for their whiskey by releasing a limited edition bottling called Jack Daniel’s Sinatra Select. Check out all the current expressions that form the core range of the Jack Daniel’s brand.
The Old No. 7 is by far the most popular, lucrative and successful Jack Daniel’s expression. It is the original Jack Daniel’s, and for many, the one and only. If you go to a bar and simply order a Jack Daniel’s, you will undoubtedly be served the Old No. 7. The Jack Daniel’s Distillery refers to their product as ‘Tennessee whiskey’, putting it through the Lincoln County Process which gives all Jack Daniel’s whiskeys a mellow, refined profile.
The Old No. 7 makes for a great sipping whiskey, and adapts equally well with the universally beloved Jack & Coke mix. All that charred oak adds a real smoky character to this whiskey but that isn’t everything about the Old No. 7 that stands out. The nose is sweet, slightly smoky and a little spicy with hints of caramel. It is quite smooth owing to the Lincoln County Process, and the sweetness of corn makes an appearance. Smoky caramelized oak, soft cinnamon spice and buttered toast complete a pleasant drinking experience with a sweet, medium finish.
A clever introduction to the Jack Daniel’s core range released in 1997. It gives the Old No. 7 lovers something richer, more special to enjoy. As the name suggests, the Jack Daniel’s Single Barrel Select is created by bottling the matured Jack Daniel’s whiskey from a single barrel, and not blending the spirit for more consistency of profile. This makes the Single Barrel Select to exhibit a far more original identity of the way it was conditioned by the barrel.
Jack Daniel’s have also opted to bottle the Single Barrel Select at 45% ABV (90 US Proof). For people that love Jack Daniel’s with all their hearts, this is a Jack in all its unapologetic glory. Sweet and spicy, it has a nutty edge with some smoke, cinnamon and clove oil notes completing an overall enriching drinking experience.
Sure we know the name sounds a little odd, but believe us when we say the whiskey is fantastic. It could have been easier if Jack Daniel’s went with ‘Cask Strength’ instead of ‘Barrel Proof’ but hey, that’s immaterial. Anyway, the Jack Daniel’s Single Barrel Barrel Proof is bottled just the way it comes out of the barrel, and can pack quite a punch. Since no barrel undergoes maturation in the exact same manner, most bottles of this expression do not carry the same alcohol volume, but range between 60% ABV to 66% ABV.
Cask strength whiskies have really been picking up in popularity in the past decade, and a lot of veterans enjoy bringing the whiskey to a Proof they enjoy. Some even love sipping on it neat just the way it is, and that is a great way to drink whiskey for sure. There is loads of sweet vanilla, toasted oak and spice brought out by this delightfully rich and full-bodied cask strength Tennessee whiskey. The Single Barrel Barrel Proof is also bottled without any chill-filtration, which is an attribute many whiskey purists really prefer.
A slightly different iteration of the Jack Daniel’s Single Barrel Select, this one is bottled at a 100 Proof, like the name suggests. The Single Barrel Select expression is bottled at 90 Proof, and both whiskeys are more or less similar, except for the higher alcohol content. This expression was only released as part of the company’s Travel Retail range, but was soon added to their core range.
Also referred to as ‘Bottled in Bond’, which requires whiskey makers to follow certain guidelines set by the passing of the Bottled in Bond Act of 1897. This Act required whiskey makers to distil the whiskey in one season, at one distillery by one distiller. The whiskey must also be matured in a federally bonded warehouse for four years, and bottled at 100 Proof (50% ABV). This makes ‘Bottled in Bond’ whiskeys in America loosely resemble single malt Scotch and Irish whiskeys although not entirely. The Jack Daniel’s Single Barrel 100 Proof is full-bodied and rich, with a generous helping of caramel, toasted oak and spice.
This iteration of Jack Daniel’s first made an appearance in 1988, and saw wider release in 1990. It has since been a part of the Jack Daniel’s stable ever since, being praised for its smooth, mellow character. The Gentleman Jack expression is a more refined version of the fan-favourite Old No. 7, and not just figuratively, but quite literally.
The Gentleman Jack is created by putting the Jack Daniel’s distilled spirit through the Lincoln County Process twice, once before it undergoes maturation and once, after it has been matured. This process changes the flavour profile slightly, adding a touch of vanilla, soft spice, ripe bananas and buttered toast to the tasting notes. A great interpretation of the classic Old No. 7, making it more appealing to the non-Bourbon drinking whiskey lover.