Malt Mileage Rating: ★★★★★
Type: Tennessee whiskey
Origin: Tennessee, United States
Jack Daniel’s is Tennessee whiskey which is made from a mash bill of corn, rye and malted barley. Once new make spirit is distilled from a fermented wash that contains these grains, that spirit is then filtered through ten feet of firmly packed charcoal (which is made from hard sugar maple) and then aged in new charred oak barrels.
Jack Daniel’s claim that whiskey which becomes Single Barrel Select is drawn only from barrels that have sat in the uppermost reaches of their barrelhouses. As heat rises, barrels that sit at the highest points of the barrelhouses are exposed to more heat than barrels that sit at lower points in the barrelhouses. This is particularity so during hot times, such as the Tennessee summer. This exposure to hot temperatures is thought to cause the whiskey to mature in a unique way and differently to whiskey that is exposed to colder temperatures. Chris Fletcher, Jack Daniel’s Assistant Master Distiller, explains:
At the top levels of our barrelhouses, the temperature can become well above 100F for several months each year. This, along with good airflow and a slightly lower humidity at the higher levels, creates a unique environment for each barrel. The evaporation we get on these barrels can be as high as 40 percent. This loss of volume concentrates the unique flavors from each barrel that much more. This creates the flavor profile we want in all of our Single Barrel products – bold and robust whiskies that have incredible balance.
Not every barrel of Jack Daniel’s whiskey that ages in the uppermost reaches of the barrelhouses get to bear the Single Barrel Select name. According to Jack Daniel’s, one out of every one hundred of these barrels will be selected. Fletcher clarifies:
Our Master Tasters are a team of folks that select our Single Barrel products. We taste for the heightened levels of rich vanilla, toasted oak and spice. Since each barrel will be slightly different, we know that there is a range of flavors that we are looking for. Some barrels may be slightly softer and some darker and bolder; they all must reflect a balance and richness that is only found in the Jack Daniel’s Single Barrel Collection.
Jack Daniel’s Single Barrel Select is single barrel whiskey. This means that each bottle of this whiskey is drawn from one barrel. Given that each oak barrel is different (because it is made up of different wood), each barrel will mature whiskey differently. This is particularly so because in excess of 60% of a whiskey’s flavour will come from the oak barrels in which the whiskey is stored. So, while Jack Daniel’s try to select barrels with particular levels of vanilla, toasted oak and spice, Single Barrel Select which is drawn from different barrels will likely offer different levels of character and robustness.
The Jack Daniel’s Single Barrel Select tasted in this post is from barrel number 15-2739
Malt Mileage Tasting Notes – Jack Daniel’s Single Barrel Select (Barrel No. 15-2739)
Nose: Caramel, wood smoke, lemon peel, apple bubblegum, vanilla ice cream, marzipan, almond meal, and golden honey. Beneath the sweet sugars from the oak sits the grain; the corn whiskey really shines.
Palate: Very wooded; there is burnt toffee, charred wood, raw sugar, and spices (cinnamon and pepper especially). Gradually, the sugary and spicy oak flavours fade and the flavours of the distillate emerge. There is fresh orange, burnt peel, candied lemon, and more rounded spices from the rye. A soft nuttiness sits in the foreground.
Finish: A mix of honey, vanilla, and citrus peel lingers with the faintest wood smoke.