View Full Version : Jack Daniel's Black @ 80 Proof Now On Shelves
I noticed for the first time on the shelves of the store where I work a couple nights a week that our new Jack Daniel's #7 black label stock is the much-rumored 80-proof. Distributor says there may be a period of random deliveries of both 80- and 86-proof because they don't rotate stock. But, apparently, the 86-proof is about to officially become yet another JD collectible.
Though I stopped drinking Jack Black maybe I'll have to get a bottle of the 86! OH, wait. I think I have one!
Hmmm...interesting. I haven't sold through a case of JD Black since I opened. Guess that's what I get for turning folks onto George Dickel. I guess I should start a "craze" for my 86 proof. http://www.straightbourbon.com/forums/images/graemlins/lol.gif Just kidding, of course.
NYC is where that silly craze for JD green label got started. Did you have anything to do with that?
You are not kidding Chuck... I can buy the green label Jack at an army base in Brooklyn and people go nuts over it for some resaon, always asking me to pick them up bottles! http://www.straightbourbon.com/forums/images/graemlins/confused.gif
Ah, New York! (I say it with affection, I assure you, Tonya). The JD folks told us that Green Label is just whiskey that wasn't good enough for the black label. (By the way, we're told that it will survive the latter being at the same proof both because the taste profiles are different and because the Green is only marketed in a handful of states. So, in most places, JD won't be competing against itself, anyway.)
Thanks for sharing that, I have been wondering if they would drop the green label now that regular jack is 80 proof as well.
Well, there was once a rumor that Seagram's gin was slightly yellow because it contained urine.
Good point but I think Green Label is slightly younger than Jack Daniel Black Label. I once acquired some Green Label, and it was a quart so I had some opportunity to judge its character. http://www.straightbourbon.com/forums/images/graemlins/smile.gif I found it similar to Black Label, just a little more raw, a little more spare. A good whiskey - probably similar to a lot of the old-time, young whiskeys - but seeing as Gentleman Jack and JD Single Barrel are now in the range one wonders if Green Label will continue to be produced. I hope so: there is a lot to be said for tradition, and choice.
When I toured the Jack Daniel's Distillery sometime in the late 70's, my tour guide said that the black label product was from barrels stored near the outside of the warehouse, where greater temperature fluctuations caused a greater interaction between the whiskey and the wood. In contrast, the green label product came from the inner part of the warehouse. No mention was made of chronological age at that time. Of course things have probably changed during the last 25 years. My taste in whiskey certainly has.
According to a response from Jack Daniel's marketing department to a direct question from my storeowner about what the difference is between Green and Black label:
The Green label is what is rejected by the master distiller when selecting barrel to blend for Black label. So, if it's younger, it not deliberate -- though, of course, since numerous barrels are blended together in a single 'batch' it may well be that younger ones are rejected more often than older ones. I don't know about that, and our respondant didn't address age (of course, JD had no age statement on it).
Oh, and by the way -- I subsequently confirmed this info independently when I ran across somebody who works at the distillery. He told me the same thing without prompting (Other than the question, "What is different about the Green labeled bottling?").
Maybe the best way to view it is Green Label whiskey is less mature than Black Label. Jimmy Bedford has noted that Black Label is darker, and richer in taste than the Green. This was mentioned in an interview some time ago in Malt Magazine. My comparative tasting led to a similar conclusion, Black Label is slightly fuller tasting, more mature than its brother. Now that Black Label is to be 80 proof, it does raise a question whether Brown Forman will persist with the Green Label version. Not because they are identical at that proof but because they will be more similar than before. Somewhere I read that the Green Label originated in the 1930's. It was a way to distinguish the young whiskey then entering the market not long after Prohibition ended from Old No. 7 which had been aged at least 4 years. Today, Green Label may be the same nominal age as Black Label but clearly it is not quite the same whiskey, it is less developed in flavor. I recall when Jack was 90 proof in the 1970's. The proof changes over the years may detract from its authenticity but devotees still have JD Single Barrel. That whiskey most closely resembles what the old-time Jack was like, in my view.
I'm not sure when the 80 proof hit the shelves in VA, but I didn't even notice it. After reading your post, I checked my bottle which I THINK I purchased in 2/04, and it was 80.
Honestly, even with as much as I like JD, I never paid much attention to the proof. I have an empty from a particularly memorable party in 1987, which I now note is the 90 proof label. It appears that JD has changed twice since then, and I was clueless.
This raises a point I always wonder about. Do (most) purchasers realise whiskey is sold at a given strength and some brands (e.g. VOB) at different strengths? Even I who know all this generally buy what seems right at the time but I rarely adjust the proof in my glass. I used to try and could never get it right (say, make VOB 100 proof into an 85 or so proof drink, which I like because I drink it straight usually). Now, I just drink what I buy as it comes, and the differences in strength from drink to drink, i.e., for the different bottles consumed over a given period, seem hardly noticeable. Bearing in mind also that sometimes I pour a larger drink, sometimes smaller, occasionally add water or mix, or not. I too used to drink Jack at 90 proof when it came that way and now at 80 proof I can't say I really notice a difference in quality just from the 5% reduction in abv. The fact that at least in whiskey areas producers offer a range of proofs for the same brand must mean customers like the choice, but why? How do customers who realise there is a choice decide which one to buy, I wonder?
I just buy the one that is the highest. http://www.straightbourbon.com/forums/images/graemlins/smirk.gif
But why, Tim? http://www.straightbourbon.com/forums/images/graemlins/smile.gif
Well, in answering your original question, I meant proof. But, they ususlly go hand in hand.
Tim, thanks, but in the meantime I edited my question to ask, why do you buy the highest in proof?
Okay, I will answer that one, too. I prefer higher proof bourbons because I perceive richer flavors. It may well be that I am fooling myself, or not, but that is the way I perceive it so I am willing to pay more for the higher proofs.
My top three favorites are WT Rare Breed (108.something), Old Grand Dad 114, and Old Forester Birthday (95). One of the veryt best I ever tasted, but cannot normally obtain, is Rock Hill Farms (100). I just prefer the high-proof whiskeys.
P.S. Also, my favorite "everyday pours" are WT 101 and Elijah Craig 12-yr (94).
Thanks Tim. I think likely many buyers would agree with you whether they could articulate it the way you did or not. I too like certain whiskeys at the higher proof, e.g. Jack Daniel Single Barrel. I am with you on Birthday Bourbon, too. But sometimes it is the opposite, as I mentioned recently regarding Old Grandad (at least as regards the 114 vs. the 86, I haven't had the chance to try the 100). But I guess my own preferences are more "after the fact". This could be too because I am almost never given the chance to choose between the same whiskey at two proofs. Recently the opportunity presented itself when our Liquor Control Board of Ontario deemed it meet to offer ORVW 10 year old bourbon in both 90 and 107 proofs, side-by-side on the shelf. However in that case, I bought them both. http://www.straightbourbon.com/forums/images/graemlins/smile.gif
The fact that at least in whiskey areas producers offer a range of proofs for the same brand must mean customers like the choice, but why? How do customers who realise there is a choice decide which one to buy, I wonder?
You raise an excellent question. My thoughts:
1) With VOB, the 100 proof version has a distinctive label. (Although clearly marked to those looking closely, I think the 86 and 90 could be more easily interchanged);
2) WT 101 vs. 80 is labeled clearly.
3) JD has not substanstially changed the label or bottle design in 30 years.
Is proof preference a product of marketing? I wonder. I feel that the VOB bottlings are pretty much equal, but I discovered them without the aid of marketing.
I have a strong preference for WT 101 VS. 80, but 101 is more aggressively marketed, in my opinion.
Furthermore, JD changed proof 2 times since I started drinking it, and I never noticed.
Many thanks. Your thoughts are most interesting. I never noticed the change either in Jack. I did of course for Jack Single Barrel but that is a different product almost (single barrel vs. just a higher proof version of Jack). Maybe it is all a question of marketing, what the bottle looks like, and other such factors unrelated to perceptions of quality or value (i.e. getting more alcohol for less money when you buy the higher proof expression).
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