About one hundred years ago, shortly after the United States introduced prohibition, the residents of Templeton, a small town in Iowa, started bootlegging hooch made from molasses. It wasn’t long until this hooch found its way to the speakeasies of Chicago, where, the story goes, it was discovered by mobster Al Capone. Back in 1920s Templeton, stills remained hidden under pigeon pens and code (such as white horses being placed in front of farmhouses) was used to signal that new batches were ready for distribution. When prohibition ended in 1933, though, Templeton’s story fell silent and the brand was forgotten as whiskey makers eventually dominated the (now legal) market. But, in 2006, a brand of whiskey called “Templeton Rye” was created to pay tribute to Templeton’s bootlegging past, and now this (very much legal) whiskey is available in the United States, Canada and Australia.
The story of Jack Daniel’s started in 1864 when Jasper Newton (“Jack”) Daniel began making a charcoal filtered whiskey which was simply referred to as “Old No. 7”. It took about a century for Old No. 7 to start making its mark on the world stage from the 1960s, with ingenious marketing taking advantage of the global obsession with American rock n’ roll, blues and punk rock to create demand for authentically American Tennessee whiskey. In the late 1980s the distillery started to expand its range, introducing the twice filtered Gentleman Jack and then in the 1990s the first bottles of Single Barrel Select were drawn from their barrels, all under the watch of Master Distiller Jimmy Bedford. Jeff Arnett took the reigns as Master Distiller in 2007, and what followed was the introduction of several new Jack Daniel’s whiskies – Tennessee Honey in 2011 (my wife’s absolute favourite whiskey), Single Barrel Rye in 2015 (which was the distillery’s first new mash recipe since old No. 7), the cinnamon flavoured Tennessee Fire in 2015 and Tennessee Rye in 2017. Limited edition Jack Daniel’s whiskies are also released, from the Sinatra Select (one of my personal favourite whiskies) to the currently available No. 27 Gold which is being reviewed in this post. Continue reading “Jack Daniel’s No. 27 Gold Double Barreled Tennessee Whiskey”→
Eddie Russell nostalgically recalls his first taste of bourbon straight from the barrel at the Wild Turkey distillery in Lawrenceburg, Kentucky. It was a few decades ago, and he jokes that the sensation of the bourbon shooting through his veins made him realise that he should never leave the place.
He never did.
In 1981 Eddie started working at the distillery, and in 2015 he became its Master Distiller thus following in his Dad Jimmy Russell’s footsteps (Jimmy has been making Wild Turkey whiskey for over 60 years!). About 35 years after Eddie started work at Wild Turkey, he would enter into an unlikely collaboration with Matthew McConaughey to create a new expression of Wild Turkey: Longbranch. Continue reading “Wild Turkey Longbranch: alright alright alright!”→
Bottles of Jack Daniel’s feature heavily among the whiskies I have reached for most and polished off with ease, my most memorable “bottle kills”. The “Jack Daniel’s” logo has the ability to make me salivate and crave a big ole rack of ribs in an instant, and whenever the pressure is on to quickly choose a whisk(e)y (because the other half is waiting to watch a movie), my default option is usually to grab a bottle of JD and then snuggle up on the couch with a glass and our chihuahua. Apparently Frank Sinatra called Jack Daniel’s “the nectar of the gods”, and I tend to agree. Continue reading “Q&A with Jeff Arnett, Master Distiller at Jack Daniel’s (Tennessee, United States)”→
“Moonshine” is now a fashionable word. You may know it as hooch, bootleg, firewater, rotgut or white lightning, or as just plain old moonshine. Some dictionaries will tell you that “moonshine” is illegally made alcohol while others will explain that it is smuggled liquor that got its name because it used to be transported at night.
The story of the “moonshiner” seems to start in the 1800s in southern Appalachia, which stretches along Virginia, North and South Carolina, Georgia and Alabama. During that time, people would illicitly distill spirit because they saw it as the best way to make money from corn crops. Interestingly, according to the Dictionary of American History, the liquor they made was commonly known by locals as “brush whiskey” and “blockade”, and not many people called it “moonshine”. By the time Prohibition came around in the 1920s, “moonshine” was used to describe any illegal liquor.
Moonshine may conjure thoughts of bathtub hooch and smuggler bootleggers but, these days, the stuff is going legit. While perusing bottle shop shelves or online liquor stores you may notice a product labeled “moonshine” which certainly is legal.
What gives? What the heck is this legal breed of “moonshine”?