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  1. #1
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    Jack Daniel\'s Black - Old No. 7 - 86 Proof

    I'm sure the pros & cons of 86 v. 80 proof have been covered & beaten here like a in previous threads....but, my question is more in regard to availability of 86 proof Old No. 7 still in the market. Though my tastes have veered away into the direction of straight KY bourbon the last couple of years, my first love was the original 90 proof Old No. 7 over 25 years ago. Though troubled when the 90 went away, I got used to 86 without losing any sleep. I guess I've been living under a rock because I just discovered last month that JD has now been altered to 80 proof in the standard offering.

    My local store owner pointed out that 90 & 86 proof bottlings are still available but only in JD special offers such as the Gold Medals, Scenes of Lynchburg and others. Of course, the cost is higher for any of those as opposed to the standard bottle. I find myself wondering why we now have to pay more for what Mr. Daniel's wanted us to always enjoy as his best and ONLY real Old No. 7 Tennessee Whiskey. However, I know the answer - $MONEY$ - pure and simple .

    Looking back now, I have no idea why I did not bunker away some of the 90 proof before it completely disappeared in the early 1990s . While I am sure it would have been long ago consumed by yours truly....at least I could have enjoyed some for a while longer.

    MY PRESENT OUESTION: If one should come across bottles of 86 proof here & there, should one grab them up? Since I have not yet bought any of the 80 proof JD Black, I have no idea if the change is very noticeable.

    QUESTION for the real JD experts: is there a noticeable difference? If so, then I will run back by the store I stopped at last evening where I saw 2 liters of 86 Proof Old No. 7 that was bottled back in 1999. The price is $32.49 each which is about standard in this area I have found for JD Black by the liter.

    Thanks for all advice and help.


  2. #2
    Bourbonian of the Year 2002 and Guru
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    Re: Jack Daniel\'s Black - Old No. 7 - 86 Proof

    The change to 80 proof was made a little over two years ago. Is there any old 86-proof stock still in the marketplace? It seems unlikely, since Jack turns over pretty well everywhere. It would have to be some stock that got misplaced in the warehouse or something. Anyway, it might be out there, but probably not much of it.

    Otherwise, if you want JD at a higher proof, you'll have to buy the special bottlings.

  3. #3
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    Re: Jack Daniel\'s Black - Old No. 7 - 86 Proof

    I agree....a very unlikely find for this spirit. However, these 2 are now confirmed 86 proof bottles. Both have "12 * 99" on the bottom of the bottles, and, both have the plain print "JACK DANIEL'S" on all 4 sides of the bottle instead of the signature names on the newer bottles. I pulled every JD bottle out of the shelf looking for more but no luck - only these two 1 liter bottles were 86 proof...the rest are all 80. It is a store with a lot of old stock of all kinds of spirits. The owners are fairly new and probably have not had a chance to go through the entire inventory as of yet.

    As you pointed out. JD has always had strong turnover....maybe the best in the business. So, it was unusual to find these bottles. I am sure there are probably a few more out there scattered throughout Tennessee - which I understand was the only place that ever had 86 proof shipped for sale in the standard Old No. 7 bottling.

    Maybe that is one of the reasons the execs decided it would be OK to go with 80 proof nationwide/worldwide....it was already the standard proof everywhere but here. Besides, it would only piss-off the Tennessee JD loyalists - just 1 state out of 50 and just a small sliver of land in comparison to the rest of the world.

    However, the 'suits' who make all the marketing decisions way up the corporate ladder have forgotten what was most sacred and important to Mr. Daniel's & Old No. 7...... Tennessee.


  4. #4
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    Re: Jack Daniel\'s Black - Old No. 7 - 86 Proof

    One other point, covered in earlier threads: the current JD 80 proof has older whiskey in the bottles than the old, regular 86 proof version did (i.e., I don't know if the Scenes of Lynchburg 86 proof JD is exactly like the old 86, or like the current 80 proof version except 3% ABV higher). Whiskey older than what used to make up JD 86 proof is vatted in to the current 80 proof to ensure the color does not look too light because of the drop to 80 proof, and I believe the change has deepened the taste of the product. I think whiskey expert Mike Veach has opined that the 80 proof is richer-tasting than the previous (regular issue) 86 proof. Of course, some people liked the "hit" of the old 90 and 86 proof versions.

    One way to re-create the old 90 is buy the Single Barrel 94 proof and vat it with the 80 proof. 50/50 will produce 87 proof and of course adding a bit more Single Barrel will produce 90. Yes, this is a more costly way to arrive at 90 proof than when the old 90 was available because of the relatively high price of Single Barrel. But the method produces a 90 proof Jack Daniels which is likely to be better than the original 90 proof since the Single Barrel and, again, the current 80 probably contain more older whiskey than the 90 and original 86 proof versions did.

    In a different area of the vatting world but still within the American whiskey orbit, I made a vatting recently which may be unique in the world. I had half a bottle left of Kentucky Vintage 1976 Bourbon (a primo Kulsveen offering that was 25 years old when bottled in 2001: this was the export 86 proof version). And recently in the Caribbean I found the same whiskey but the 94 proof version, the one that is also available in selected markets in the U.S. I vatted them 50/50 and now have a 1976 Kentucky Vintage 90 proof version. I like this 90 for straight sipping, the 94 was too high I found (although of course careful dilution would have fixed that). This vatting is very good in that while both bottles tasted almost the same (to me anyway) the vatting, as vattings are wont to do, seemed to produce a special effect which is hard to explain in logical terms.

    This one or part of it might end up at Gazebo upcoming. It is (inherently) no more or less than what the Kulsveens released but in a way I hope they would appreciate since 90 proof is certainly a "classic" proof level.

    Gary


  5. #5

    Re: Jack Daniel\'s Black - Old No. 7 - 86 Proof

    ...I don't know if the Scenes of Lynchburg 86 proof JD is exactly like the old 86...
    Gary, it's my belief that the "Scenes of Lynchburg" bottling -- issued domestically only in Tennessee -- IS the old 86-proof whiskey. I have seen bottles so-far unreleased here already in places like Europe (viewed online; the whole series appears to have been released there already) and Mexico (seen in person), so I suspect all were bottled and warehoused some time ago and are being released here sequentially as the previous design sells out. At least, there seems to be no set schedule for their release -- the first was released in July 2003, the second about a year later, but we still await the third after now 18 months, presumably because the 1/3-higher-priced others aren't moving that well and remain on many shelves.

  6. #6
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    Re: Jack Daniel\'s Black - Old No. 7 - 86 Proof

    Tim, thanks. I saw the Scenes of Lynchburg in a store on Broadway in New York, it was the 2004 release. This was in Times Square. I may be there before April and will try to snag one for Gazebo.

    A real prize for Gazebo would be a 1950's-era Jack Daniels or even 1960's - sounds like Randy may have the chance to obtain or at least taste some. That would be a real coup, while we have covered bourbons and ryes of many decades of the 20th Century, we have not seen any Jack Daniels from the 1970's or earlier.

    Gary

  7. #7
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    Re: Jack Daniel\'s Black - Old No. 7 - 86 Proof

    One other point, covered in earlier threads: the current JD 80 proof has older whiskey in the bottles than the old, regular 86 proof version did
    Gary,
    I remember this speculation about how JD maintains their color by using older stock, but can't remember it being more verifiable than in your previous "plausible, alternative explanation" assertion in this previous thread. Did anything more concrete ever surface that I'm not finding in the archives that would help us to state this as a fact, not speculation?

    Roger

  8. #8
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    Re: Jack Daniel\'s Black - Old No. 7 - 86 Proof

    Yes, I recall that a representative of Brown Forman was quoted in one of the whiskey press as stating that older whiskey was being used to ensure the color did not appear too light. It might have been Jimmy Bedford or Lincoln Henderson, it may have been in Malt Advocate or Whisky Magazine or another place. I know I am being somewhat vague and at this point I cannot put my finger on the quotation but I am fairly certain I saw this statement made. My own informal comparisons of the 80 proof (note JD as sold in Canada has been 80 proof since the 1970's) and the former 86 proof seem to confirm that the current one tastes better. I had some JD from the remnants of an 86 proof bottle kept at a relation some months ago in Providence, R.I. It seemed a little more yellow to me than the current 80 proof and less smooth and rich in taste. So this confirmed in my mind what I recalled B-F saying (because even if you try to ensure the same color, it may in practice, I thought, end up being a little darker on average). Sorry not to be more specific, I will try to find the original quotation but again I am almost certain I read this in an interview with a representative of B-F.

    Gary

  9. #9
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    Re: Jack Daniel\'s Black - Old No. 7 - 86 Proof


  10. #10
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    Re: Jack Daniel\'s Black - Old No. 7 - 86 Proof

    I guess my tastebuds were asleep in the mid-'80s when the proof was cut from 90 to 86 by the Brown-Forman Corp., which owns Jack Daniel's....

    ....Starting last year, Jack's proof was reduced again, from 86 to 80 to cater to (younger) customers (wimpy bastards) who want a lighter taste....

    ....When Jack cut the proof, they kicked longtime customers (like me) to the curb. My favorite relief from reality has lost about 10 percent of its punch since the mid-'80s and I feel I'm getting less than I'm paying for. The proof went down, but not the retail price. -- Stu Bykofsky http://www.instapunk.com/archives/WhiskeyWater.html

    This pretty much sums it up for me as well. While I was not a business major in college, I do understand marketing & consumer demand to some degree. I just do not believe that a huge share of a 'new' untapped market wanted a "Lite Jack Daniel's". If so, then why not just issue a bottling under that name to appeal to the yuppie crowd?.....and, leave the original the way Mr. Daniel wanted it always to stay. They have already spent a ton of money on the yuppie crowd coming out with the tooty-fruity 4-pacs of J.D. with kool aid mixers. Was that not good enough for the weak-tummy crowd?

    It's not like B-F barely scrapes by selling the #2 most popular whiskey in the world...and, by now may have passed Johnnie Walker to become #1. Surely with the profit margin B-F enjoys, a lite product could have been born. To my thinking, this is quite obvious from the resurrection of the 86 & 90 proofs in special J.D. bottlings. To top it off, the 'special' offerings cost more! IMHO the world is just upside down at B-F. Instead of making a "Lite Jack" the special offering, they make the original recipe that way and charge more for it! If this was not a thinly disguised ploy in the name of the almighty dollar, there never was one!

    The last thing B-F should have done is to slap the face of the longtime J.D. loyalist by doing such a thing. I thought a maxim to good business is "if it ain't broke then don't fix it". Obviously, the bean counters at B-F just don't follow that or any other logical & common sense line of reasoning. After all those years of success coming out of Lynchburg, Tennessee, let's 'improve' our flagship product....Yeah, Right!!! That made a whole lot of sense. Maybe B-F should change their name to .....because they are waist-deep in it!


 

 

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