By Father John Rayls
Everyone is familiar with Jack Daniel’s and Tennessee Whiskey, as they are the world’s second-best selling whiskey. We’ve seen it repeatedly in the movies, on TV, heard innumerable songs about it, and know it immediately when we see the bottle. The JD logo is probably as recognizable as Charlie Chaplain, and we know of Frank Sinatra as the brand’s ultimate, unofficial spokesperson.
We also know a couple of other things as well. Jack Daniel’s Distillery has maintained a very narrow flavor profile in its product line, or they did until lately. Jeff Arnett, the Master Distiller, has been changing the Jack Daniel’s game plan significantly. In addition to the new rye whiskey and Sinatra Select, check out the new, 2016 Barrel Proof Single Barrel to prove the point.
I could never have been accused of being a Jack Daniel’s whiskey fan. In fact, I’ve only owned a single bottle of their work in my life. However, Arnett has now changed all of that for me.
My bottle came from barrel number 15-5642, rick number L-20 and was bottled on 10/07/2015 at 128.2 proof.
To begin with, the bottle is radically different from that of the regular JD, and grants the appearance of elegance. It could easily be reused as a decanter. The whiskey has a dark color of brownish orange with highlights of dark coppery gold in the glass. The legs really fooled me. After swirling the glass, I looked for the coating and subsequent legs. There weren’t any legs. However after about 3 minutes, they suddenly began to appear and then very slowly drain to the bottom leaving their tell-tale trail. I have never seen legs like that.
The nose is totally absent any alcohol burn, and is filled with sweet corn, brown sugar, cereal and light oak in the background. It’s not an aggressive nose, but is easily enjoyed.
With the first mouthful, the tongue is coated with a very light, wonderful syrup feel. The flavor is filled with toffee and caramel with faint sweet corn and light oak underneath. Almost all of the action is centered on the tongue and roof of the mouth. The action center moves up and down the tongue and sometimes makes it to the lips.
This is truly a “what you see is what you get” whiskey. There is a direct connection between the looks, the nose and the taste. It really is a special experience in this regard. Jack Daniel’s Barrel Proof Single Barrel is apparently going to become a long time product for the distillery and will find a permanent place on my whiskey shelf.
All of this action leads to a long finish which simply doesn’t want to quit. The temptation is to drink it quickly because the taste is magnificent, but should be consumed slowly to really appreciate everything that this whiskey brings to the glass. This is a surprisingly easy drinking high proof whiskey. I like it neat, but there’s plenty of room to cut it with water or ice. As a single barrel and a cask strength whiskey, it will vary in proof between 125 and 140 and change slightly in flavor profile from barrel to barrel. Even at this high abv of 62.5% to 70%, Arnett has somehow managed to produce a very drinkable very flavorful very enjoyable whiskey. I never thought I would say (or write) those words concerning Jack Daniels.
My price in San Antonio is $69.95, but I’ve seen it listed for $59.99 to $100.00 on the Internet. Just take your time to find the right price for you and then enjoy to your heart’s content.