Jack Daniel’s Old No 7 1980’s v 2013

Three American Legends: My 1980’s and 2013 Jack Daniel’s Old No 7 sitting on the bonnet of a
1967 Ford Mustang in Melbourne, Australia
Today I turn 30! Over the last week I have made an effort to taste and review old and rare whiskies in a series I call “The Week I Turn 30”, but today is the icing on the cake and the most exciting review of an old and rare legend: a 1980’s Jack Daniel’s Old No 7 Tennessee Whiskey.
What makes this so special is that I have unknowingly grown up with this bottle. It sat quietly in a tin box for almost three decades, neglected and ignored by my beer loving (and spirit hating) Dad; lucky me! I was very excited while rummaging through long ignored cupboards in the family home to find this bottle of Jack Daniel’s Old No 7, which, after some online research, I have traced back to the 1980’s. I was relieved to discover that bottles from the 1980’s only sell for about $120, which made my decision to open and taste this whisky much easier.
A time capsule in a bottle, this Jack Daniel’s represents the smell and taste of American history: what Jack Daniel’s tasted like in the 1980’s when I was either an idea, born or a few years old. I always wondered why my parents and grandparents would receive bottles of whisk(e)y as gifts and never open them. It doesn’t much matter now, as I am going back in time to the era of fuel inefficient cars, political incorrectness and really bad fashion; the 80’s.
 
What is Jack Daniels Old No 7?
Jack Daniels is a Tennessee whiskey that is charcoal mellowed and produced in Lynchberg Tennessee. It needs no introduction, but curiously it has a distinct Italian-American connection. Angelo Lucchesi was the distillery’s first salesman, and, in a fine display of dedication, Frank Sinatra was buried with a bottle of Old No 7 in 1998.
No one really knows why Jack Daniel’s gave the Old No 7 its name, or why he chose the number 7. What is known is that the distillery continues to adhere to the same production methods that Jack Daniel himself used since winning a gold medal for his whiskey in St Louis in 1904. This whiskey has survived two world wars, the Great Depression and prohibition, and, frankly (no pun intended), it was a personal favourite of mine until overdoing it a little in college! I did not touch any whisk(e)y for many years after that night, but its legendary status pulled me back and the love affair was rekindled.
What are the differences between the 1980’s and the 2013 bottling?
This review will parallel taste and compare this 1980’s Jack Daniel’s Old No 7 with a Jack Daniel’s Old No 7 purchased in 2013. The main differences are:
  • Alcohol volume: The 1980’s Old No 7 is bottled at 43% ABV, whereas the 2013 Old No 7 is 40% ABV.
  • Colour: The 1980’s Old No 7 appears lighter in the bottle, as you can see in the picture. Unlike many other whiskies, Jack Daniel’s does not add colouring to their products and the colour of their whiskies are the result of aging in oak barrels; which means that the 2013 version appears to have drawn out some darker and denser colour from the wood.
  • Smell: The 1980’s Old No 7 is softer with undertones of earthiness and warm caramel laden chocolate fudge, whereas the 2013 version is more heavily (as the colour suggests) oak influenced with richer chocolate notes and piercing spice alongside vanilla pods.
  • Taste: The 2013 Old No 7 has a bitter note of toasted dry oak that hits the palate with a wave of sweetness that struggles to take over but never does. In contrast the 1980’s Old No 7 is less bitter and more evenly balanced at the start but offers a sudden surge of dry smoky wood that whips the palate almost unexpectedly with subtle shades of vanilla and sweetness.
  • Finish: The 1980’s Old No 7 has a more intense finish that explodes on the palate whereas the 2013 Old No 7 has a constant presence that is moderate.
No wonder Ole Blue Eyes (Frank Sinatra) was buried with a bottle of Old No 7 – it was seriously amazing whiskey!!!

Jack Daniel’s is the stuff of legend; exceptionally good all the time. Unlike some other world leading brands, I think every bottle represents the very best that American whiskey has to offer.

Now for some more detailed tasting notes, YEE-HA!

Tasting notes
 
Spirit Name:
Jack Daniel’s Old No 7 (2013)
Score:
89/100
2, medal, silver icon

ABV:
40%
Region:
Tennessee, United States
Body:
Medium
Intensity:
Medium
Texture:
Medium
Balance:
Superb
Best served:
Neat, mixed
Theme(s):
A solid smack of dry wood with some sugary sweetness fighting for its life
Tasting notes:
Nose: Slick and oily with pulsating notes of toffee and rich chocolate, there is a dry smoky wood that weaves around the corn shining deep in the heart of thids whiskey.
Taste: A moderately intense wave of dry toasted wood merges with notes of vanilla pod and sweet chocolate coated raisins as the bitterness of the cocoa recedes and allows the sugary sweetness to put up a fight that it loses before it even starts as it is dragged down and easily overpowered by the spicy and dry smoky oak.
Finish: The presence of raisin and burnt wood lingers on the tongue, with light shades of sweetness faintly glowing.
Price:
$43 (Aus), $23 (US)
Spirit Name:
Jack Daniel’s Old No 7 (1980’s)
Score:
94/100
3, medal, silver icon

ABV:
43%
Region:
Tennessee, United States
Body:
Medium
Intensity:
Medium-high
Texture:
Medium-oily
Balance:
Heavenly
Best served:
Neat, mixed
Theme(s):
A beautifully balanced all American with a solid punch of dry toasted oak and silky smooth Sinatra notes
Tasting notes:
Nose: Candy shop sweetness wafts up from the glass with gooey caramel and toffee buzzing around with hints vanilla bean whipped cream and a glazed doughnut layered with sultana and sprinkles of licorice.
Taste: Creamy and oily on the palate, the bitter oak creates a flutter of dry smoke that is blown away by a wave of luscious vanilla layered warm chocolate fudge; the kind that is dark and therefore not too sweet. The gooey caramel sweetness then gradually submits to a whip of oak driven dryness within which golden shards of not quite burnt toffee shine.
Finish: The bitterness lingers on the tongue with a sugary sweetness, but the experience is neither too bitter or too sweet.
Price:
$120 (approx)
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2 Responses to Jack Daniel’s Old No 7 1980’s v 2013

  1. JD Old No.7 outstrips many of the so called boutique / small batch hand crafted whiskies. I think it is a great dram that is simply underrated because it is so consistent combined with a large market share.

    Whose Mustang?

  2. Absolutely! Jack Daniel's continues to produce some lovely whiskey. That is my Dad's Mustang!

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