G’day guys and a belated Happy New Year! I hope you all celebrated the New Year in style and had a great time, with minimal hangovers. Twenty-eighteen as a year, was a complete and dismal waste, I spent the entire year pounding the pavement handing out resumés left right and centre to the point that my chest began to ache with anxiety, and sadly nothing ever came of it. Were it not for my holiday at the end of the year, that without it this article would have been impossible, it would be a complete waste. I hope Twenty-nineteen is a huge improvement, nothing depresses me more than the thought that by May this year I’ll be only one year from using up half of my Twenties and still be looking to begin my adult life, having advanced no further since high school than an asthmatic ant with some heavy shopping, wasting the best years of my life worrying about my future instead of enjoying life. I look to change that this year. And for those of you sick of seeing wine articles, I’m back again kicking off this new year with a very special whiskey article I don’t expect to see topped easily. I didn’t name myself Malt Liquor Mitch for nothing. With this – Jack Daniels Single Barrel.
This is a highly prestigious bottle of premium quality whiskey, from one of the most successful labels in hard liquor no less; Jack Daniels. A bottle that is pictured and symbolised in many and varied formats of media as basically a status-symbol. A high-value powerhouse American native idol, like the Chevrolet Camaro or the Dodge Challenger Hellcat. Something to be set as your iPhone’s screensaver or your profile picture, to inspire you of visions of success and a gained accustomed glamorous normality. Retailing on average at just a notch over one hundred dollars Australian. Hyperrealism bottled essentially. Though obviously, there are very many of these hundred-dollar top-shelf bottles, Redbreast Irish whiskey springs immediately to mind, Pappy Van Winkle’s twenty-three year old Kentucky straight bourbon is another, Rémy Martin X.O. Excellence Cognac. Bundaberg Rum Master Distiller’s Black Rum is one bottle with which, in principle not personality, it shares character. Of the country boy who put on a suit and tie and shrugged off it’s humble Average Joe nature and became Tony Stark. The fact that this high-profile bottle is American made too, means immediately that this bottle’s image is blown far and wide on places like Twitter and Instagram and all other social medias by it’s adoring audience, almost all media being American-bias, owned, or run by, promoting their domestic premium. I shouldn’t even have this bottle in my hands, the fact that I do is a fluke. Though in actuality, I simply bypassed Australian goods and services tax, thereby removing the normally unthought of tax pressed on hard liquor. When I returned from New Zealand I walked through duty-free, saw a one-hundred dollar bottle for just eighty dollars, saw no Redbreast that I would have preferred, preferring always to gravitate towards Irish whiskey, and thought “Yup, I’ll have that” and off I trot. And here it is. Technically, this is my Christmas present. And I think it’s safe to say it’s going to be a while before I see liquor of this quality again so get your reading glasses ready as I kick off twenty-nineteen with high hopes with this much lusted-after bottle.
Originally of course, my planned blog’s introduction into Tennessee whiskey ran on the same line as my article on grass vodka. To deliberately try the lesser-known bottle first, to get a sense for the spirit as a whole. The lesser-known bottle in this case being the George A. Dickel Tennessee Whiskey, a whiskey I have never actually bought, nor officially drank a glass of, I doubt anybody would let me say a smidgen of a whiskey in a disposable plastic cup inside a liquor store counts. Though I don’t know many people who don’t know what Jack Daniels tastes like anyway, seeing as how it’s readily available in bottles and premixed with all manner of things in bottles and cans. But, things change. Tennessee whiskey, by definition, is a straight whiskey made in the U.S. state of Tennessee, that must undergo a pre-barrel stage known as the Lincoln County Process. This process is one of those trademark signatures the classifications of whiskey possess unto themselves, like the Scots use with Scotch, using smoked peat to dehydrate their malted barley. The Lincoln County Process is the time honoured practice of filtering or steeping whiskey through charcoal. Jack Daniels, famously filter even their baseline cocktail whiskey through a three meter vat of charcoal, their employees burn on site from stacks of sugar maple. The employees first coat the wood with a one-hundred-forty proof Jack Daniels to combust with a match. The sugar maple is charred, then extinguished with water, cleaned, then fed into a grinder until the stacks of charred wood are reduced to palm-sized chips. Their step up from their pub-going Old No. 7, the Gentleman Jack, is filtered through this charcoal twice. So, what about this one? This covergirl Tennessee whiskey? The Single barrel range of Jack Daniels, was first rolled out to the world in nineteen-ninety-seven, a date at which I was too young even to even pronounce Jack Daniels let alone drink anything outside of a highchair. Though T.V. lovers will know this as the time that split the world in two over the argument of whether Ross cheated on Rachel or whether they were on a break. The term “Single barrel” is defined as a premium class of whiskey where a bottle can trace its origin to one individual barrel, as opposed to the normal practice of blending separate batches from barrels for volume used by whiskey, brandy and rum distillers. This practice creates uniformity of whiskeys between bottles in colour and taste. Jack Daniels use a range of just two hundred carefully crafted barrels for these bottles, created and toasted in the ways of the early coopers proudly by employees of Jack Daniels, like they did at the time of the birth of the label. A level of attention to detail that starts to make you think of the value paid for this bottle in dollars and cents, no other label makes their own barrels anywhere in the world. As for the Lincoln County Process, it remains unsaid the number of times the whiskey is charcoal filtered prior to this attentive oaking stage.
So, let’s delve into why we’re all here. The bottle. The bottle itself, much like a decanter. A heavy body in mass, the bottom is solid and robust. The body, moving upward rectangularly, extending outwards. The bottle is built elegantly but voluminous. With many graceful lines in the glass of neck of the bottle, adorning it sumptuously. The bulb of the neck like that of an open rose flower facing downwards. Expressionism, it seems, towards the liquor housed inside. The cork, the handle exterior to the neck of a consistency almost that of timber, rounds off the contour of the neck neatly. The nose of Jack Daniels Old No. 7 is unmistakable, sugary sweet and that of hot cooking caramel and thick almost harsh spice…this is not that. The nose of this single barrel is a far deeper, more sophisticated nose of dark hot chocolate, of dried fruit and berries. More reminiscent of a Cognac, than an American whiskey. Warm, deep, fruity and inviting. But with an ever-present eminent scent of timber. Under normal circumstances I’d usually drink my whiskey in a tumbler over ice. For this bottle, I will not allow even ice to interfere with the taste. I will tonight, be using a proper Glencairns glass, the glass with the specific purpose for top-shelf bourbons, Scotch, and Cognac, and in this case; Tennessee. So I pour a small taster, for all intents and purposes, a half shot. I take a sip. It is true what they say, paraphrasing; “a great whiskey can be judged by just one sip (but it’s better to be thorough” as this is 100 proof, I wouldn’t recommend that. Though if anyone needs a good stiff drink, under the circumstances I’d say me). This whiskey put simply is the culmination of all things said about it come together to create a truly beautiful malt. The taste is rich and sweet, thick enough to cut with a knife. Body of thick hot caramel, undertones of chocolate, brown sugar, a full flavor of beautiful oak sewn in throughout, and a finish best described as the traditional spicy punch of Tennessee whiskey.
To close: It would of course be elementary, at this point to say, that a $100 whiskey lives up to its hype. What’s more, we all know none of us will routinely buy this stuff. But let’s play realistically here for a second, let’s say you’ve got a big celebration to be had. The kind that isn’t going to come round every day, every year even. Let’s say your best mate you’ve known since primary school is getting married to his girlfriend and has appointed you to throw him his stag night. Let’s say, you’ve just bought your first home outright. Let’s say, you’ve won a million in the Powerball. Not just any old plonk will suffice, this is the sort of stuff you will get. And when you do, you will not be disappointed. This whiskey is for occasions to be remembered. For celebrations. In this new year, I hope to have every reason to drink a whiskey like this again. That this new year will be everything I wanted last to be, that all my hard work will finally all pay off, that I will finally make my own way in the world. I hope all your New Year’s resolutions come to last.
Cheers, and don’t forget to subscribe below for immediate updates on my site.