View Full Version : Question About Silver Select
Courtesy G. Hodder I have a September, 2010 bottling of Silver Select. This particular one is quite untypical of Jack Daniels in my experience. It has no banana-like notes - zero. It is on the light side, a little astringent, with some black cherry notes. Water brings out the taste.
In discussing the bottle with him, the question came up, was Silver Select, i.e., the 100 proof form of Jack Daniels historically exported to Europe and elsewhere, and presumably similar to the pre-Prohibition Jack Daniels, always a single barrel? If not, was it bonded? When did it change over, if at all, to a single barrel? As far as I can recall, and I've been buying it for about 10 years, it was always a single barrel but over this same period, the domestic, 94 proof version of JDSB has been available and so they seemed to go in parallel except the export was the traditional 100 proof strength.
I think the Silver Select has been mostly a duty free only bottling since it ws released!
JD Single Barrel and JD Silver Select are the same thing, in terms of the profile. They use Silver Select for their buy-a-barrel program and for travel retail, while Single Barrel is the standard retail offering. There may be a difference in bottling proof, but the barrel selection profile is the same.
The first version of JD Single Barrel was created to be sold at the distillery only, after Tennessee made it legal for them to sell 'souvenir' bottles. That was in about 2001. I believe that was the first time they had ever done a single barrel. Not long after that they created the current Single Barrel. Presumably, they created Silver Select then or a little later.
So, Gary, when you say, "the 100 proof form of Jack Daniels historically exported to Europe and elsewhere, and presumably similar to the pre-Prohibition Jack Daniels," I don't know what you're talking about. What they've always exported has been standard Old No. 7, at whatever proof it was at the time, which I'm sure was at one time 100. They've never made some kind of 'retro' version for export, if that's what you're suggesting.
They certainly were not exporting a product that was higher proof than what they sold domestically. In fact, European preferences have been instrumental in them lowering the proof everywhere.
Chuck, that's very interesting. I always understood that a 100 proof version was exported to Europe continuously from the beginning, continuing the pre-Prohibition tradition in this regard. I don't doubt a regular-proof one was too, but I thought a "luxury" version at 100 proof was always available.
Based on what you are saying, the 100 proof JD was only sent over since 2001. That doesn't sound right to me, but perhaps it is so. I'll try to ascertain further.
Well, I checked and my memory must be wrong, or at least, no site I checked - and there are many devoted to JD history and memorabilia - shows a label depiction with higher than 90 proof until Silver Select, which came in in 1998 (JD Single Barrel in 1997, again from Internet perusing). Some of the early, post-Pro bottles don't show a proof, but I accept that it was 90 proof for decades after re-introduction of the whiskey until the drops to 86 and then 80, i.e., for Old No. 7 or the Black Label.
Interestingly, there was a 100 proof Jack Daniels product in the 50's, but it was a corn whiskey, called Topaz, and I doubt it was exported.
I thought I had read years ago that a 100 proof version of Jack Daniel's was always available in Europe but I think now that is probably not so.
I have only seen one 100 proof bottle of JD black and it was in the collection that was confiscated in the raid at Lynchburg. When I toured JD in 2005, Silver Select was a duty free only bottling and it was the only 100 proofer they offered. I have seen some duty free only bottlings show up in general circulation after the EU was created!
Tom, that 100 proof bottle probably pre-dated Prohibition. I would think in other words Jack Daniels, as a noted straight whiskey, was 100 proof, if not bonded, before the post-Pro environment which allowed Jack Daniels to start up again.
Before Prohibition the brand sent over to Europe surely was the same as the U.S. version. But it seems after, since 90 proof was sold in the States, 90 proof went over to Europe. I'm still not 100% (sorry) sure though. :)
Schenley bought the last of the Jack Daniels whiskey during prohibition and sold it as a 100 proof bonded product (after changing the label to Jack Daniels Old No. 8 so they did not have to pay Motlow a royalty). That is the only 100 proof I know of that was on the market for sure. However, Jack Daniels was using a business model similar to hundreds of other distilleries of his time and he would sell barrels to individuals and either deliver the barrel as is or bottle it for the customer at the proof the customer wanted. I am sure there are pre-prohibition bottles of 100 proof and maybe even bonded Old No 7. I am not sure that he had a "standard" proof for his product.
Mike, thanks. As far as you know though, after Prohibition, did Jack Daniels ever export over the standard domestic 90 proof (45% ABV)?
To my knowledge, After prohibition Jack became the 90 proof Old No. 7 (with a trademark on the Jack Daniel's name as well as Old No. 7). After prohibition you had many more label restrictions and requirements making it more difficult to do a multitude of changes need for individual barrels sales of the pre-prohibition style.
But those rules would not have applied to exports, e.g. to Europe.
The 100 proof bottle I spoke of was definitely pre-prohibition. After prohibition and until about 1988, JD black was 90 proof. It then went to 86 proof and finally 80 proof about 2003!
Right, but I was wondering if Jack Daniels sent 100 proof whiskey as a luxury iteration to Europe after Prohibition, in the 1950's say and up to the time Silver Select was introduced. Like Blanton has different proofs in export markets, I thought JD did too, but I think in fact it did not, or haven't seen any examples of such bottles.
I'm not aware of any others except Silver Select!
I think Mike's point about the way the Motlows did business was that they sold barrels to customers who could bottle it as Jack Daniel's as they saw fit, perhaps subject to a license, but that there was no coordinated enterprise exporting Jack Daniel's whiskey to Europe in a standardized way. It may, for example, have been possible to buy a 100 proof Jack Daniel's in Paris, and some poet may have waxed as they do about it, but you couldn't buy that same bottle in Brussels and five years later you couldn't buy it in Paris either, because maybe it was a single Paris merchant who was importing it directly from the Motlows. It was much more haphazard than what your question presupposes.
After 1956, Brown-Forman did just the opposite. What little JD was exported (and it wasn't much) was the exact same stuff -- in bottles -- that was sold here, except for the occasional nation-specific commemorative bottle.
I was guessing about when Barrel One (the first single barrel Jack) was launched, because I knew Tennessee passed their souvenir bottle law before Kentucky did, and Kentucky passed theirs in 2002. Apparently Tennessee did it in 1997.
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