Sunday, November 20, 2016

Jack Daniel's Old No. 7 150th Anniversary Edition

This past August, I was browsing through one of our (cough) beloved (cough) Pennsylvania state stores and spotted an eye-catching item. The bottle was the usual Jack Daniel's bottle, but the label was unlike any JD label I'd ever seen. A bit fancy, really. It explained that 2016 is the 150th anniversary of the Jack Daniel Distillery and that this was a special edition of Old No. 7 to commemorate. The only distinguishing factor noted on the label was the bottling strength: this 150th anniversary edition was 86 proof, whereas the standard Old No. 7 is 80 proof. At least it is today...86 proof used to be Old No. 7's STANDARD bottling strength. Was this 150th anniversary edition more like a throwback edition? I didn't know, but at 28 bucks (+ tax) per 750 ml bottle, it was just a few dollars more than the standard Old No. 7, and the sign on the shelf read, "One Time Buy." So I bought it, thinking it would be a timely release to review when my "Happy Drinking!" video series debuted on YouTube in September. Development Hell has brought us to late November with no videos in the foreseeable future and this whiskey kicking off a blog. Fortunately, I still see a few bottles out there, so this review is not a work of history just yet!

Frankly, I did not expect much from this 150th anniversary edition. When I started exploring whiskey about four years ago, I hung out with a lot of Jack drinkers, and my work in the music business placed me in venues which had regular Jack specials. Old No. 7 was an obvious beginner's choice. But as I expanded my whiskey knowledge, I grew away from Old No. 7, though not Jack Daniel's altogether -- the superb Single Barrel Select will be my next review. For me these days, Old No. 7 is for rocks or highballs. I thought the 150th anniversary edition would serve the same purposes, just with a bit more kick.

But when I got it home, I noticed that the color was darker than today's standard Old No. 7. This is significant because Old No. 7 is Tennessee Whiskey, and in general, Tennessee Whiskey is Straight Bourbon filtered through (typically) sugar maple charcoal. By law, Straight Bourbon cannot contain added coloring. So I suspected that this 150th anniversary Old No. 7 was aged longer as well as being bottled at a higher strength. Sure, the darker color could have resulted from being less diluted, but my gut told me there was more to it than that.


Jack Daniel's Old No. 7 150th Anniversary Edition
Tennessee Whiskey
No Age Statement
43% ABV (86 Proof)

Color: Golden brown, led by raw sienna with dashes of burnt sienna and burnt umber.

Body: Medium viscosity when swirled around the glass, leading to well-defined legs and A LOT of impressive tears.

Nose: When I poured a glass, the air filled with maple syrup-drenched pancakes. Sticking my nose in the glass...this whiskey is very spicy! Great oaky backbone. Sweet corn with a nice level of development. Sweet cherries. Maple cream with a hint of vanilla. The alcohol is assertive but not overwhelming. A touch of that glue which some people detect on the nose of the standard Old No. 7.

Palate: A lot of deep nuttiness. Vegetal corn -- a big hit of fresh corn pierces through. A creamy mouth-coating sweetness with hints of black cherry. A bread-like note providing some depth and heft. Tickling, peppery heat. Not as good as Single Barrel Select, but a much better sipping whiskey than the standard Old No. 7.

Besides Sipping Neat: Well, during my first glass of this stuff, I knew I'd reserve it for sipping neat. I didn't mess with it at all except for one time when I was really craving a Jack and Ginger and this was the only Jack Daniel's I had. But actually, this was not as good with Ginger Ale as the standard Old No. 7. I recommend mixing that one and saving this one (if you can find it) for sipping.

Overall: Pleasantly surprising!

Thank you for reading, and as always...Happy Drinking!

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