A well-trod argument in the whiskey world goes: Is Jack Daniel’s a Bourbon, a Tennessee whiskey or both? Well, in the case of something new from the company’s Lynchburg distillery it is none of those.
Jack Daniel’s newest release is a bonded rye, using the maker’s signature charcoal-mellowing process and adhering to the standards of bottling-in-bond (distilled by a single distiller during a single season, matured under government bond for at least four years and bottled at 100 proof). Because its grain content is mostly rye, this Jack Daniels qualifies for neither the Bourbon designation, nor that of Tennessee whiskey. What it occupies, though, a complex middle ground for those who enjoy the spicy allure of rye grain.
To be legally called Bourbon or Tennessee whiskey, a spirit has to made with a mash bill (grain recipe) of at least 51 percent corn. To be the latter it must also be charcoal filtered and made in Tennessee. So, the black-labeled Jack Daniel’s Old No. 7 could technically be considered a Bourbon, even while most Bourbons are not Tennessee whiskeys.
Don’t make yourself crazy. Just concentrate on this new whiskey’s judicious ratio of grains. Like Jack Daniel’s non-bonded rye (first released in 2017) this third entrant in the Jack Daniel’s Bonded Series uses 70 percent rye, 18 percent corn and 12 percent barley. Before rye was rediscovered in the last two decades or so, such popular examples of the whiskey as Old Overholt and Jim Beam rye cleaved closer to the minimum rye allowable content of 51 percent. Now, many modern ryes come in with as much as 95 percent of that grain. Jack Daniel’s splits the difference, reconciling zest and honey through the implicit smoothness of it charcoal filtering.
The bonded rye is the third entrant in the permanent Jack Daniel’s Bonded Series, alongside Bonded Tennessee Whiskey and Bonded Triple Mash. The former was named 2022 Whisky of the Year by Whisky Advocate magazine, our sister publication.
The square footprint of the bottle follows that of the familiar Jack Daniel’s Old No. 7 packaging. The label is green, not black, with, of course, different wording. The Distilled Spirits Producer number (in this case DPS TN-1), which is displayed on all bottled-in-bond products to indicate its place of origin, is placed on the top of the cork closure.
Jack Daniel's Bonded Rye, 100 proof, $32 for 700 ml., no age statement, but at least four years.
Nose: Shows its sweetness first with hard candy, orange blossom, then blows spicey in the aftermath.
Palate: Again, it opens with sweetness, smacking of fruit and honey. Slowly it edges away from sugar with caramel and tea notes, finally uncovering baking spices (clove, ginger, cinnamon).
Finish: The long, spicy finish is capped off with toffee.
Cohiba Connecticut Robusto (Dominican Republic), $20
A nutty and herbal cigar with a pale wrapper and easy, open draw. It hints of balsa wood and citrus before the spicy finish. (July, 2019 Cigar Insider)
The idea was a smoke that would mirror the rye’s spice, but leave room for the whiskey to develop its sweet side. In practice, the whiskey’s rye notes came quickly to the fore with savory, toasty notes. The cigar trotted out nuts and a fuller, sweeter body.