Class: Tennessee Straight Whiskey
Reviewer: Andrew Owen
99% of the time, my endeavors as a whiskey enthusiast and reviewer are an absolute joy. I buy and try whiskeys that are personally intriguing, and that I have usually done somewhat extensive research on to make sure they are worth my money. But sometimes I review a whiskey not because I want to, but because I need to. This is one of those times.
Remember that for the purpose of these reviews, whiskey is judged by its ability to be sipped and savored, neat. Sans ice. Sans cola. Sans sugar or vermouth or bitters. So let's get this straight before we continue: Jack Daniel's flagship whiskey is not advertised to be, nor meant to be, sipped neat. It is created to be a pop culture favorite that the college frat guy takes pulls of, the blue collar worker comes home, takes his boots off, and pours over a few rocks, and the average joe at name-your-restaurant orders with a coke.
That said, my reasons for reviewing this are threefold:
- This is, by volume sales, the most popular whiskey in the entire world.
- The Jack Daniels Distillery produces several other more premium whiskeys. This provides a general distillery baseline by which to judge them.
- Despite what you may think, this whiskey is not priced as a bottom shelf whiskey. Stores around me sell it for about $26 for a 750 ml, or $50 for a 1.75 L bottle. That puts it right next to bourbons like Wild Turkey 101, Buffalo Trace, Old Granddad 114, and other quality American whiskeys. Someone new to whiskey, going only off of price/shelf position, and perhaps heavily influenced by excessive marketing, may be tempted to buy this over those other higher quality options.
So let's get into the review of this whiskey, poured into a glencairn, nosed, sipped, and analyzed. Thank you to my friend Chris who gave me a little 100 ml bottle of this.
- Charcoal filtered as new make spirit through about 10 feet of maple charcoal (a.k.a. the Lincoln County Process).
- No Age Statement (4 years minimum).
- Bottled at 40% ABV (80 proof).
- Mash Bill of 80% Corn, 8% Rye, and 12% Malted Barley.
Nose: Grilled overripe banana, sweet corn, and toffee. The banana note here is assertive to say the least, but the other notes accent it well enough. Dries out a bit with rest in the glass. 1-dimensional, yet pleasant enough.
Palate: Extremely sweet – cloying. Overripe banana, corn syrup, and an odd, slightly acrid fusile note. A little woodspice lingers around the edges. There are few positives here. It's like drinking a sugar coated brown banana dipped in engine oil.
Finish: Wet wood, corn syrup, and whipped cream topping. Surprisingly long.
Buying Recommendation: Don't spend your money on it. There is no reason to ever buy this as a sipping whiskey, or even a cocktail mixer. If you want a whiskey and coke, sure go ahead, but there are plenty of $10 whiskeys that will accomplish that feat well enough for you.
The Rating Scale
At WBSE we use a true 100 point scale for scoring to allow whiskeys to further differentiate themselves (as opposed to a letter grade scale where 90% of whiskeys fall between 78-92). This allows you to more easily compare scores between different whiskeys. Here is how the scale breaks down:
1-49: Varying degrees of bad
60-69: Better than average
90+: truly exceptional
All thoughts and opinions expressed are original to the author of the review or article. We are in no way paid to express any specific opinion about any specific company or product.