The foundation of big business giving their adoring audiences what they cry out for, to tap a healthy vein of drinkers and influx a new flow if revenue is well founded. So too, is the idea that well-respected distillers and liquor producers want their image to be that of a standalone, quality product. And less that, of an ingredient of a cocktail, viewed as an equal of Coca-Cola, Schweppes, or Pepsi it is mixed with. Many big names in the business, have made this call and gone to great lengths to make it clear in no uncertain terms, that their product is that of the advertising reflecting this. A picturesque malt liquor to be drank in a relaxed, calm environment or in in the company of friends and family, an epitome of whiskey. That caramel-brown elixir of life in the short glass, enjoyed by those idolized figures like Frank Sinatra, Mark Twain, Sir Winston Churchill, Ava Gardner, Sir Sean Connery the original and best James Bond. Not any random liquor bottle that will blend into the background amidst a dozen others. I read once, I think they were referring to Glenfiddich, that most whiskey lovers will see a top-selling brand and turn their nose up at it, that the big names are the top sellers because they are the choice of the partygoers and ill-informed drunkards. The flock’s whiskey, if you like. I dug round and found this more or less was their two cents, saying simply that “(Glenfiddich’s) all-pervading presence actually serves to put off some fans, who argue that something so popular can’t really be that good”. And I agree. While certainly a connoisseur in a high price bracket might as well, turn his nose up at a humble Jameson, or a St. Agnes domestic brandy. But this sort of obsession with high-class top-shelf liquor in the presence of pubs or restaurants trying to appeal to the average man, content with his familiar whiskey or his domestic wine or beer, surely leads one routinely to disappointment. To learn that a pub’s average clientele are pleasantly surprised to see anything outside premixed drinks and cheap wine, and that their Basil Haydens and their Pappy Van Winkle’s are nowhere to be found. Capitalizing in these opportunities to show some might, that bottles bearing their label need not be restricted to the easy to please pub goers.
G’day guys, and welcome to a three-part string of articles, self-explanatorily dubbed “The Three Wise Men”. Exploring the higher premiums of those three well known labels of whiskey; Jack Daniels, Jim Beam, and Johnnie Walker. The pub heros. The bottles to be taken more seriously. Ones you can enjoy on their own. And, like this year, we’re kicking this off with the representative from the Tennessee team: the Gentleman Jack. Jack Daniels, sparing no time in letting it be known that this whiskey is one big step up, in its name alone. It’s common knowledge, banner advertisement in fact, that Jack Daniels filter, or “mellow” as they refer to it as, their whiskey through three meters of sugar maple charcoal. As is the required practice of all Tennessee whiskeys branded so. The Gentleman Jack, it is also widely advertised, as a hook is filtered through this vat twice. The bottle has been in production since nineteen-eighty-eight, in business terms it sufficed as an image to put forward, as well they did, advertising it to be the refined, more mature Jack Daniels for the aficionado of the malt, who knows and likes the label already. But in sales terms it was obviously negligent in opposition to the regular Old No. 7. A fact that Jack Daniel’s marketing department went to great lengths to remedy, but to no avail. And that is all that is said about it. The marketing, as the usual audience surrounding it, remains swift and to the point. And so, begrudgingly, must I too be.
The bottle itself, chunky and large in it’s presence. A curved top, with a tastefully pinstriped label, bringing to mind the curved lines of the cars and planes of the Roaring Forties. An almost novel oversized large cap, and a curved, rectangular body. The whiskey inside, that fine, rich caramel brown colour. The paper of the label, glossy and silver. Reminiscent of the lusted-after Single Barrel Select. And the signature of Jack Daniels, embossed into the glass.
We all know the nose of Jack Daniels, a deep sugary spicy, earthy nose of caramel, so I have some idea of what to expect from this. Or so I thought. The nose is in fact a bizarre nose of vaguely medicinal qualities, also fruity noses of cherry and bananas. Very peculiar. I pour over ice, a thicker note of cherry comes into play. The second filtration of charcoal, must implement fruitier nose. I taste and a sweet and sour note of cherry dominates the palette. Not satisfied with a sole descripting attribute, I give a gargle and a swish, treating the whiskey as though it were wine. All I can achieve, though this is hardly a defeat, is a subtle background of oak. And a hearty burn in the back of the tongue, and a curious aftertaste similar of the aftertaste of charcoal grilled beef, assuredly some attribution of the charcoal.
In closing: This bottle is the real, proper Jack Daniels. The one you want. Old No. 7, is little more than a fundraising campaign to support the genuine article. I definitely recommend this. And furthermore, I’d advise caution drinking it in generous quantities, as the taste is so easygoing and sweet, it goes down easier than a duck struck by a round of birdshot. So take it easy, but do enjoy it.