By Richard Thomas
Jack Daniel’s Distillery celebrated it’s 150th Anniversary this year. Mind you, that isn’t 150 years in continuous operation, and that famed distillery in Lynchburg suffered a longer closure than its cousins across the state line in Kentucky. Tennessee enacted Prohibition in 1909. The distillery was not reopened until after the passage of the 21st Amendment in December 1933. So yes, the distillery has been operating on the same site for 150 years, but there was a generation-sized closure during that time.
Like so much of what comes out of Lynchburg, this is JD whiskey at it’s core. It is made with the same high corn (80%) mash bill that puts barley (12%) over rye (8%), and drip-filtered through 10 feet of sugar maple charcoal. From there, however, the whiskey was entered into specially made, slow-toasted new oak barrels, and then racked up in a prime piece of warehouse real estate. According to the company:
Once filled, the barrels were placed in the “angel’s roost” of one of the oldest barrelhouses at the Distillery where whiskey has matured for generations at an elevation and with the exposure to sunlight that creates the perfect climate for the greatest interaction between the whiskey and barrel.
From there, it was dumped and bottled at a stepped up 100 proof, and in specialized one-liter bottles to mark the occasion.
I think I might have over-used the word “copper” to describe certain whiskeys lately, because I took a gander at this one and remembered what brightly polished copper should look like. The light, coppery amber of this liquid reminds me of a mock-up of an ancient Greek mirror that might be on display in a museum, and it runs with glistening, heavy legs.
Then nose is fragrant, full of maple and vanilla, spiced and dried apricots and citrus zest, and just a smidgeon of barrel char toastiness. It’s light on the tongue, and very forward on the vanilla sweetness, enhanced by a tart, cherry note. Following up behind this initial wave is a personably musty, leathery oak note. After the swallow, the mustiness turns rather toasty, coming back around to that very light char note in the nose, but in a somewhat more pronounced way. The warmth is light, but long lasting.
This is certainly a very interesting spin on the traditionally mellow and easy drinking virtues of Jack Daniel’s. It’s balanced and polished up, and certainly very worthwhile of close attention.
This fetches $100 a bottle, but, as mentioned above, that bottle is a big one-liter. So, you get an extra five shots for your money, and that makes this a rather fair bargain.