Review: Jack Daniel’s Single Barrel (NO Bourbon Fest 2019)

Next in my 2019 New Orleans Bourbon Festival Single Barrel review series is this lovely barrel of Jack Daniel’s. Back in November, festival co-founder Tracy Napolitano and I traveled to the distillery in Lynchburg, TN for a barrel selection. Master Distiller Jeff Arnett led the tasting, which I hear is a bit rare. Of the three barrels presented to us, this third barrel unanimously garnered everyone’s vote.

While helping Tracy choose a barrel of Jack Daniel’s, I simultaneously shot and produced a piece on single barrel whiskey for TheSouthernWeekend.com, which you can check out here:

The barrel chosen by Tracy and myself highlights the darker side of Jack Daniel’s flavor profile. The nose features caramelized bananas, dried fruit, vanilla, and dark chocolate. Taste-wise, this JD Single Barrel, bottled at 47% ABV, shows hints of spiced caramel, marshmallow, and banana pudding, which develop into rich cocoa and toasted oak. There’s a tinge of minerality slightly hidden away. The long finish accentuates oak spice and chocolate-covered cherries.

The 2019 New Orleans Bourbon Festival selection of Jack Daniel’s showcases flavorful and interesting darker, oakier notes while maintaining the brand’s DNA. In other words, it’s delicious. I bet this whiskey would pair nicely with a medium-bodied cigar. As soon as this selection hit the New Orleans market, I made sure to pick up a couple of bottles. So glad I have a backup. 8.5/10

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Review: Woodford Reserve Double Oaked (NO Bourbon Fest Pick 2019)

With the New Orleans Bourbon Festival right around the corner, now is as good a time as ever to take a look at some of their 2019 single barrel picks in a series of short reviews.  A lot of the whiskies in this series are still available in certain New Orleans retail stores, and will be poured at the 2019 New Orleans Bourbon Festival.

We’ll start with Woodford Reserve Double Oaked.  Bottled at 45.2% ABV, this is matured Woodford Reserve finished in a second toasted, charred barrel.  It’s been a few years since I last tried WRDO, but remember liking it a lot.  How does this barrel pick fare?

The nose features hints of brown sugar, sweet corn, spice, and chocolate.  A bit of sweet oak shows up with a little airtime.  On the palate, waves of brown sugar meet sumptuous Mexican chocolate.  Spiced red fruit develops in the mid-palate.  Those baking spices ramp up in the medium-length finish, followed by lingering stewed fruit and spice notes.

This goes down too easy.  It’s quite nice.  I like the development of fruit on the palate here, which is a bit of a departure from the standard Woodford Reserve Double Oaked flavor profile.  That uniqueness is what festival organizers are aiming for with these barrel picks.  With this selection, they’ve chosen a very approachable whiskey that should appease any Woodford Reserve fan.  8/10

Review: The Macallan Classic Cut (2018)

I like Macallan.

Let me rephrase – I like whiskies from Macallan.  What I don’t care for is their pricing, which seems geared for the luxury collector instead the whisky drinker.  But, that’s a rant for another time.

So it was with great surprise that I saw this 2018 edition of The Macallan Classic Cut for about $100 on the shelf.  Given that their lovely 18-year-old is inching closer to the $300 mark, I know this NAS release is going to be comprised of mostly young whiskies.  And that’s not a bad thing.  It’s just something to be mindful of… setting expectations, so to speak.

Classic Cut is bottled at 51.2% ABV, a big jump from the 43% ABV of Macallan’s standard releases.  Only sherry-seasoned casks were used in this release.  Based on the color, my guess is most of those casks are refill sherry casks.

The nose features macerated orange, vanilla, and waxy malt, with a tinge of toasted oak. Gone are the dark, heavy sherry notes I equate with Macallan.  Instead, because of those young whiskies used in this bottling, the nose is more vibrant, as is the palate.  The high ABV delivers a burst of wonderful strawberry jam, orange peel, and vanilla.  A bit of spice develops about halfway through, as does a young malt note.  The medium-length finish leaves lingering notes of spiced fruit and spice.  No need for water here, as this Macallan is easily drinkable.

Macallan Classic Cut delivered almost exactly what I expected – a big, vibrant, fruity malt.   I was a bit surprised at the amount of citrus, but liked what I tasted.  I don’t expect to dissect this whisky in a Glencairn glass.  Where it lacks complexity, Classisc Cut makes up for it in delivery of flavor.  That said, I’d LOVE to taste a high proof Macallan with a little more age.  As far as what’s in the glass, I’d give this one a recommendation.  7.5/10