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Thread: Jack Daniels

  1. #1
    **DONOTDELETE**
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    Jack Daniels

    What does everybody out there think of the higher-end Jack Daniels products: Gentlemen Jack and Barrel House 1 (think that's the name of it)? Recommended? Worth the money?

    By way of context, let me say that I don't have a problem with the regular green and black-label Jack. It's not my favorite brand of whiskey, but it's drinkable enough. Between the two I think I prefer the green-label Jack. I don't usually like light whiskey, but that liquorice taste is pretty unusual, and I think it can be pretty overwhelming in the black-label Jack.

    doug


  2. #2
    **DONOTDELETE**
    Guest

    Re: Jack Daniels

    Hi Doug,

    First of all, since J.D. is technically not a "bourbon" we need to remember that we can only keep this thread going as long as it's okay with Jim. There *is* a Canadian Whiskey thread going on in the Rye section, and I've been amazed that Jim allows so much discussion there. But then, I don't see that Rye is any more properly "bourbon" than Tennessee is. Anyway, if Jim doesn't mind, I'll jump in here...

    Jack Daniel's gets a lot of abuse from bourbon-drinkers, not because there's anything wrong with it, but because it's considered to be basically a low-tier whiskey which has always appealed to the general populace (as does Budweiser & Miller beer). Add to that an agressive (and somewhat annoying) marketing policy (which dates all the way back to Lem Motlow and the original Jack Daniels himself), and it becomes an easy target for elitists of all kinds, especially bourbon drinkers. In reality, they make (and have always made) an excellent and VERY consistant product. And they take great pains (and spend a lot of time and money) to include all the extra steps needed to make the product just as fine today as it ever was. That can't be said for all the others. You may (as I do) disagree with Jimmy Bedford and his predecessors about the flavor, but know that they've made every effort to make sure that it tastes just that way and no other. And that it tastes just like it always has (I don't have any old bottles of J.D. to prove it, but I can verify that many bourbon whiskeys no longer taste the way they once did). And, of course, they haven't been America's leading maker of whiskey all these years 'cause no one likes their product.

    Now Doug, have you ever tasted Baker's? Or Blanton's? Or Elijah Craig? Isn't it amazing that these fine beverages could be made by the same people (and from the same ingredients) as Jim Beam, Ancient Age, or Heaven Hill? In much the same way, if there is anyone out there who has passed up the chance to sample Jack Daniel's Single Barrel, I implore you, hesitate no longer. This is a world-class whiskey in any right. I can't believe the same people make it.

    I have a bottle of Barrel House 1 (they don't make it any more), but I won't open it until I can get another full bottle. I believe it contains 90 proof whiskey, which is what the REAL Jack Daniels used to be before they diluted it to its current 86. Commemmorative bottlings and foreign exports are still bottled at 90. You wouldn't think a mere four proof points would make a difference but it does. The green label is not available everywhere, just in a few states. That's the one Jack Daniels would have recognized. The black label didn't exist in his lifetime -- it was created by Lem Motlow in tribute to Jack after he died.

    By the way, if you like Tennessee whiskey, you absolutely, positively, must try a bottle of George Dickel (I prefer the No.12, but if you like JD Green Label you might choose the No. 8). The flavor is more pronounced in both products, and a third (a ten-year-old special reserve) is really fine.



    -John Lipman-
    http://w3.one.net/~jeffelle/whiskey

  3. #3
    **DONOTDELETE**
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    Re: Jack Daniels

    I guess I will jump in here also. I visited the Jack Daniel's distillary in the 1980's and had a great time. Really nice people, nostalgic product, traditional ways. I asked the guide how many people worked there, and he replied "about half of them". You gotta love people like that. And I really wanted to love their whiskey also, but....... I consider the black label rough. I have tried to give it a chance on several occasions, but have come away severely disappointed each time. And the price, $ 18 + per 750 ml, the same as Makers Mark, come on. Based on John's comments I will try the green label sometime.

    And now the good news. I received a bottle of Jack Daniel's 1904, 90 proof. It was not only drinkable, but enjoyable. I e-mailed the distillary, who were very prompt in their reply that it is the same 5 year old whiskey as the regular black jack, but bottled at the higher proof. This is hard for me to believe, it taste like they are hand selecting barrels, (but I do not know this). The bottle was real cool also, with the cork topped by a brass knob and the words "Jack Daniel's" written on the side of the cork. Somehow, the sour mash taste seems more prominate in the Tennessee whiskies.

    Gentleman Jack is the same 4 to 6 year whiskey as the regular Jack Daniel's that has been through the charcoal filtering a second time. It is filtered this way both before it goes into the barrel and after it has aged in the barrel. Gentleman Jack is very smooth and enjoyable. I do find the regular bourbons quite a bit more interesting. For just sipping and smoothness, Gentleman Jack does make my short list of favorite whiskies. It does strike me a bit odd, though, that they would go to the trouble of aging the whiskey in oak barrels for years to pick up all of the oak flavors, and then run the whiskey through charcoal to take a bunch of this same taste out.

    I agree that Jack Daniel's does go to a lot of expence and trouble to charcoal filter their product, even going to the trouble of burning their own maple. At one time I thought that this made Tennessee whiskey special. Then, when I discovered the better bourbons, who could get a better result, including smoothness, without the same charcoal filtering, I began to rethink this position. It must be more difficult to make a great bourbon by keeping the bad taste componets out of the mix from the start, rather than filtering them out with charcoal after distillation. I am thankful that we have such a rich whiskey heritage and craftmanship here in the United States, and that would be poorer without Jack Daniel's. But please, do try the others(Evan WIlliams Single Barrel and Elijah Craig 12 year old (a little smokey)are about the same price and much more satisifying). I meet so many people who drink Jack Daniel's on occasion because it is one of the few whiskies that they can name. (and most of the Jack Daniel's drinkers I know mix with something, usually Coke, where presumably it takes the strong rough Jack Daniel's taste to still be tasted through the Coke syrup).

    I also want to second John's vote for George Dickle, much better thank Jack Daniel's, and the very product that got me started on American Whiskies. I like the number 8 and the number 12, but I must say that the George Dickle Special Reserve is not worth the extra money (about $ 33 Arkansas money) in my humble and uncultured opinion, of course.

    Mark A. Mason, El Dorado, Arkansas

  4. #4
    The Boss
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    Re: Jack Daniels

    John,
    I allow and to some degree encourage divergent discourse in these forums. Foremost because it would be futile to attempt to contain it, and secondly because standards simply cannot kept if there is no comparative value by which to judge them.
    That being said; carry on gentlemen, you have my rapt attention.

    Regards,

    Jim Butler
    StraightBourbon.com

  5. #5
    Bourbonian of the Year 2002 and Guru
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    Re: Jack Daniels

    I have always regarded the charcoal filtering process practiced by Daniel's and Dickel as an aging shortcut, much like the practice of periodically heating masonry warehouses in winter. Both are venerable techniques, just slightly less natural than simply letting time take its course. You might even look at barrel rotation the same way.

    Since JD is the #1 seller, other makers like to take shots at them. One typical shot is that the charcoal filtering lets them get away with selling a relatively young whiskey ("Four years and a day," as one put it) for a premium price.

    - chuck


  6. #6
    **DONOTDELETE**
    Guest

    Re: Jack Daniels

    Thanks for all the input so far from everybody. I like to get comments on the higher-end stuff before I buy it, mainly 'cause I ain't got tons of money and want the investment to be worth it.

    I have tried Dickel #8 and remember liking it a great deal. I agree that it's a better brand than Jack.

    You know, in retrospect it's unusual that such a distinctive whiskey got to be so popular in this country. The more I think about it, that liquorice taste is strange. Not bad, really, but odd. I can't think of anything out there to compare it too, anyhow.

    Why is the green label Jack only available in a few states?

    Thanks again,

    doug




  7. #7
    **DONOTDELETE**
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    Re: Jack Daniels

    Just wanted to report back that I finally coughed up enough $$$ for Gentleman Jack and it's quite good -- easily the best of the Jack Daniels line I've tasted to date. Sweeter than the Green Label, but not disgustingly so -- the liquorice is still there but nowhere near so heavy as it is in JD Black. Recommended for anyone who wants to sample the Jack line but doesn't want it to be an unpleasant experience. When I'm feeling especially rich I'll try the Single Barrel.

    doug


  8. #8
    Bourbonian of the Year 2011
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    Re: Jack Daniels

    Yes but, having bought a bottle recently of Jack Daniel (the regular black label, now 80 proof) I must express admiration for the flavor and skill inherent in this product. The color (in this sample) is quite dark, about as dark as the Single Barrel version (I examined the colours of different bottles of the same brand - the black label - at the store and some seemed darker than others; I bought the darkest I could find). Flavour: charcoal, smoked wood, very balanced, there is the "candy"-like JD taste, the hint of dark fruit noted by Chuck in the Book, and the result is very drinkable, fine whiskey. I don't get in this sample any immature flavors, it all melds together well, with an oak backstop. This is very good, I prefer it to the Single Barrel because evidently the mingling of many barrels produces a complexity and balance the singleton, characterful as it is, cannot aspire to.

    Gary

  9. #9
    Advanced Taster
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    Re: Jack Daniels

    wow, thats quite a bump there.

  10. #10
    Bourbonian of the Year 2011
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    Re: Jack Daniels

    Yes, I know. There is a trove of information on these boards, and sometimes there is nothing like a message of years past to prime a current thought or development. Chuck's comments I bumped on JD are very much in line with his comments in the Book, clearly he has thought about these matters for a while and is remarkably consistent. Perhaps one small area where I disagree is where the Book notes that JD can be unexciting (I think Chuck says boring). I don't find this although it is not a complex product, not even the Single Barrel expression. If anything the black label is more complex while the Single Barrel is more "out there", showing all the attributes in spades: charcoal, wood flavour, sweetness, candy-like, but not as melded as the black label. Anyway, JD is a distinctive product, probably (as the Book says too) consistent over the years and close to how it always was, a classic. It is a survivor of a bygone time, which despite, or maybe because of, its ownership by a large company remains an honest-to-goodness American original.

    Gary

 

 

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