Best unaged rye whiskey we have ever had !
Notes: Jack Daniel’s has always been known for their Tennessee Whiskey a.k.a. Old No.7 which has been the dominant Tennessee Whiskey and a huge international player for years. Despite more “collectible” bottles than almost anyone can remember or catalog easily, and a very few variations such as the Gentleman Jack and the Jack Daniels Single Barrel, Jack Daniel’s has not indulged any changes in their line up ( except to reduce proof a number of times) or really introduced any new products for longer than anyone can remember. This is an interesting new departure for them with a mash bill of 70 percent rye, 18 percent corn and 12 percent malted barley. It is significant that they are using 70 5 rye ( legal minimum is 51% to be called a rye) , but not using 100% rye. This allows for more flavor ( and a lot less headaches for the distillers ) and complexity than a single grain product. The product is also distilled to 140 proof which is ballpark for most whiskies and allows a lot of character and flavor to be left in ( vodka and GNS come off at 190 proof and have little to no flavor characteristics beyond ethanol).They have however also stuck to some traditions by using their proprietary yeast and their dripping through 12 ft of maple charcoal prior to bottling.
Appearance: Clear as a bell, bright almost silvery appearance to it. It displays a very thin coating on swirling,with drops forming on the edge line/meniscus which then become legs then droplets or tears.
First Impression: Quite the fruit bomb! Which might sound strange as we are talking about a grain-but rye does a strange metamorphosis. In smaller quantities as a lesser or adjunct grain it can lend a lot of spice or sweet and sour, to a whiskey, in larger quantities it can sometimes come off very fruity like this. It has some nice grain notes behind the aromatic start and does not share the usual raw notes that many white whiskies seem to have.
Taste: It seems to have a lot of red raspberry and cherry notes with a touch of sweetness and grain backbone to it. It settles down a bit in the finish letting the grain shine through with teases of dried fruit. Overall an exceedingly smooth whiskey with lovely fruit, floral and grain notes not dulled by exposure to wood or oxidation. Similar to a really good Blanco tequila like Siembra Azul in this respect – a really good distillate is sometimes much better straight from the still when it still retains all it wonderful, unbridled and fresh characteristics.
Drinks: Frankly we did not have a lot of luck there. While the whiskey is quite nice, it seems to share the extremely common problem that all white whiskeys seem to suffer from – It’s just not that mixable. While I am sure that will get sorted out with time and experimentation, it just has not happened yet.
Bottle: Bottle is clear glass and similar in shape to some of their other special edition series in the somewhat short or squat square bottle type with a very small slightly off white colored paper label with black lettering. Has a rather amusing graphic of a barrel with an X over it to show this rye has never touched wood ( but touched off an interesting controversy ) The clear glass shows off the whiskeys beautiful clarity to good effect . The short neck has a black neckband with a deckled white edge and with white lettering. A round black wooden top with angled shoulders and a natural cork give it a traditional and premium feel. A particularly tenacious clear plastic neck wrap with no tear strip so it requires a sharp instrument to cut off Overall a very pleasing and somewhat striking presentation that stands out on a shelf anywhere ( store,bar or home).
Other: It is very interesting the Jack Daniels decided to come out with this product, especially given the fact that Jim Beam came out with Jacobs Ghost at about 1/2 the cost along with a host of other companies a few of which are listed here. Of course you have to give them credit for the thoughts that it is a Jack Daniels product so all their fans absolutely need to have a bottle and the limited release will only cause more anticipation for their aged rye whenever that comes out. Of course in the meantime they can get reactions to the unaged rye ( and the price point ) to gauge if, when, and how much to release ( in quantity and price) when the time comes.
Final Thoughts: The best unaged rye I have ever tasted ( and that’s saying something) and one of the best white whiskies I have tried ( especially for smoothness and complexity. That being said you are paying quite a premium for it. At $50 it’s almost twice the price of a bottle of regular Jack Daniels – and it has not been charcoal mellowed, put in an expensive barrel, or stored ( with subsequent cost of storage, evaporation, etc.,) so really it should cost less (certainly in terms of cost to distiller). Yes , I get it , rare, collectable, and because they can, but still that really effects my price/value rating for an otherwise outstanding product.
Fair amount details and pictures with a comprehensive history and background, virtual tour, links. Lots of merchandise of course – one of the mainstays of the cult brand.