Sunday, November 20, 2016

Jack Daniel's Single Barrel Select

When I decided to review the 150th anniversary edition of Jack Daniel's Old No. 7, I knew that I couldn't help referencing JD Single Barrel Select in the process. The funny thing was that I'd never owned a bottle of Single Barrel Select! Over the past couple of years, I've enjoyed several glasses at The Twisted Tail, one of Philadelphia's better whiskey bars (also a music venue). Single Barrel Select is reasonably priced there, and I'm more inclined to buy a bottle of a premium whiskey which I CAN'T find for a reasonable price at bars. But knowing that I should reacquaint myself with it and review it here, I finally bought a bottle.

Is that what people mean when they say they drink a bottle of whiskey every day?

Well, a 750 ml bottle of Single Barrel Select costs $48 (+ tax) here in Pennsylvania, and money was tight, so for $5 (+ tax), I bought a 50 ml bottle. As a single barrel whiskey, its characteristics will vary, but from my servings at the Tail and the glass I'm reviewing here, it's pretty damn consistent. By the way, I've seen claims online that this is as close as you'll get today to the Jack Daniel's of Frank Sinatra's heyday. At age 35, I'm too young to know, but on December 12th of last year -- what would have been Old Blue Eyes' 100th birthday -- I headed to the Tail just to have a glass of this.

Jack Daniel's Single Barrel Select
Tennessee Whiskey
No Age Statement
47% ABV (94 Proof)

Color: Gorgeous. Raw sienna, burnt sienna, burnt umber, copper, and amber tones. I know this color is legit because Tennessee Whiskey is held to the same standard as Straight Bourbon -- no added coloring.

Body: Silky smooth. Not much in the way of legs or tears, but swirling around the glass leaves an impressive ridge that just won't quit!

Nose: As soon as I poured a glass, this whiskey filled the air with French Toast soaked in maple syrup. The maple note lingers over time as charcoal and earthy, vegetal corn reveal themselves. A slight medicinal note pierces through, leaving a touch of bitterness in the back of my mouth as I breathe it in. A dusting of pepper keeps things lively. Continued nosing yields dense bread-like qualities and vague rye. Those signature nutty Jack Daniel's notes follow. The ongoing maple and pepper fuse along with something vaguely fruity. Throughout the entire nose, the alcohol is impressively subdued and well-behaved.

Palate: Unmistakably Jack Daniel's, but deeper, bigger, bolder, spicier, and sweeter than today's Old No. 7. A lot of black pepper heat and maple-tinged sweetness from entry to finish. Notes of cornbread in the entry. Oak which is rich and round, yet subtle, suggesting patient aging despite the lack of an age statement. Mouth-filling creaminess with bright vanilla and that vague fruitiness echoing the nose. Roasted corn. Roasted mixed nuts. A grassy bite in the finish. Some hot cinnamon in the aftertaste, kept in check by sticky, soothing maple syrup. 

Besides Sipping Neat: Jack Daniel's publishes cocktail recipes for this. I ignore them. I'm not about to mix something this pricey when I can buy much cheaper high-quality American whiskeys for mixing. 

Overall: This is class, baby! If Single Barrel Select resembles the Jack Daniel's of Sinatra's heyday, no wonder Frank called his preferred whiskey "the nectar of the gods." Please do not reach for that shot glass or that Coca-Cola. This is a Jack to be sipped and savored.

I've yet to try the other offerings in Jack Daniel's Single Barrel Collection, but I intend to, especially the Rye. I recently heard a bartender (NOT at The Twisted Tail) tell a customer that it tastes like "sour mash sadness." With a description like that, I HAVE to experience it for myself.

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

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