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Monday, May 22, 2023

BARD Monday: Jack Daniel's Single Barrel Barrel Proof, 64.9%abv batch

Once upon a time, circa 2015, Brown-Forman announced a new product called Jack Daniel's Single Barrel Barrel Proof (yes, more barrels in the name than in the whiskey). I saw the announcement on Twitter, and retweeted it with my always insightful analysis. I can't find the tweet, but I'm pretty sure it was:


Some Twitter followers took umbrage to my observation and replied with similarly honed reflections along the lines of:

Y U mad bro.

There were three reasons Y I mad bro.

  1. The quality of Jack Daniel's Old No. 7 is an embarrassment to all Americans, no matter one's political leanings.
  2. I had never liked any American whiskey produced by JD's owners.
  3. Everything Brown-Forman touches turns to brown.
Notice the "had", not "have", in point 2. That is because in 2019, I tried B-F's Old Forester Rye and found it to be waaaaaaaaay too good for its price point, a price point that has occasionally dropped here in Ohio.

Because I enjoy that completely unrelated product, that is a different whiskey type, from a different distillery, I have to decided to try THREE barrels of JDSBBP. Four years separated my brilliant JDSBBP tweet and my first sip of Old Forester Rye, and four years have now passed since that sip. So please figuratively join in me in three pours of JDSBBP this week, starting with the barrel with the wimpiest ABV:

Brand: Jack Daniel's
Ownership: Brown-Forman Corporation
Region: Lynchburg, TN
Mashbill: 80% corn, 12% malted barley, 8% rye
Age: ?
Bottled: ????
Outturn: ???
Alcohol by Volume: 64.9%
(from a bottle split)

I tried this Tennessee nectar at four strengths. Here's how it played out:

Full Strength
Diluted to 50%abvDiluted to 46%abvDiluted to 43%abv
The nose is approachable! Peanut butter fudge, mint leaf, and carob arrive first, followed by sundae cherries and burnt tree bark.The nose has more vanilla and pastry. A few dried apricots with a dash of clover honey and a splash of balsamic vinegar.A straightforward mix of mint, menthol, lemon, and barrel char fills the nose.Wood spice and a mix of citrus zests in the front, and jasmine blossoms in the back of the nose.
The palate is HOT, surprise! It's also peppery, sweet, and minty, with piles of burnt wood, and a hint of earth.More approachable, but still very oaky, in fact here's where the bitter oak arrives, in the palate. Some decent tart limes mix with honey and cinnamon.Like the nose, the palate is more focused: ginger, bitter oak, and sour citrus.The bitter oak mellows out in the palate, which is now mildly sweet and filled with caramel and mint.
The finish is all hot char, menthol, and lime.Hot char and limes again in the finish, but with some honey too.It finishes with sour citrus, heat, and bitter oak.It finishes tart, bitter, and woody.
The nose is kinda nice, but the mouth's oak and heat assault overwhelms all else, predictably.
I'm loving the nose here, and the palate improved...until the bitter oak appeared. The finish remains monolithic.
The citric acidity and woody bitterness were almost unpalatable. I considered dumping the rest at this point.
A big improvement over the 46%. The finish remains the weak point, but I could see how this would work for cocktails or casual summer sipping.


Good news first. This was MUCH better than Old No. 7, especially once reduced to 43%abv. Oak often imparts lovely noses at the same time it kills palates, and that's what happens to this whiskey at higher strengths. Overall, this was not as bad as I'd expected.

Now, the bad news. My Jack Daniel's standards are subterranean, so the above compliments all have qualifiers. Of course this is better than Old No. 7. A sinus infection is better than Old No. 7. This particular barrel is so woody there's no way to know if the problem with standard JD is the oak or the spirit.

But if you like hot bitter sour oak, you'll like this more than me.

Availability - Many batches/barrels around
Pricing - $55 - $85
Rating - 76 (heavily diluted only)

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