Review: Jack Daniel’s Heritage Barrel (2019)

Photo courtesy of Jack Daniel’s.

In 2018, Jack Daniel’s released what could very well be my all-time favorite expression of theirs – Heritage Barrel. This limited edition, single barrel bottling is a far cry from the standard Old No. 7 Black Label. Heritage Barrel starts with a slowly toasted barrel. The whiskey then entered the barrel with a lower entry proof than usual. These heritage barrels rested on the highest floors of their warmest warehouse. The result was a richer, more robust whiskey.

This second bottling sees an additional year of maturation. Jack Daniel’s Master Distiller Jeff Arnett selected 200 of these barrels for 2019, so there’s not a lot to go around. JD Heritage Barrel is bottled at 100 proof and is available for $64.99. How does this release compare to last year’s?

The nose features deep notes of vanilla and oak spice. Like last year, maple syrup and a citrus note round out the aromas. On the palate, an underlying toasted oak note sees waves of rich caramel, baked banana, and baking spices. Sweet vanilla and orange zest meet a rum-like note. Tobacco and drying oak lead into a long, spicy caramel-vanilla finish.

Last year’s Heritage Barrel was my favorite American whiskey of 2018. This 2019 edition is certainly a contender this year with a touch more spice and complexity than the first release. If you’re not a Jack fan, let this expression change your mind. Jack Daniel’s Heritage Barrel was delicious last year and has only improved with time. 9/10

Thanks to Jack Daniel’s for the sample. As always, all thoughts and opinions are my own.

Jack Daniel’s Rye Whiskey Review

Photo courtesy of Jack Daniel’s

Jack fans rejoice, for the the planets have aligned – Jack Daniel’s Tennessee Straight Rye Whiskey is finally upon us.  Over the last couple of years, the brand has released unaged, rested, and single barrel rye whiskies using their first new mash bill since Prohibition.  The single barrel expressions can vary in flavor, while the unaged and rested ryes were previews of what was to come.  This new batched rye whiskey is the mass market release that Brown-Forman was aiming for.

Bottled at a hearty 90 proof, Jack Daniel’s Rye comes from a mash bill of 70% rye, 18% corn, and 12% malted barley.  Like it’s world famous black label sibling, Jack Daniel’s Rye is charcoal filtered before maturation.

On the nose, rye grain cuts through caramel-topped banana ice cream.  A whiff of fresh ginger arrives with a little airtime.  Taste-wise, rich maple syrup hits the palate initially, followed by a dual blast of rye grain and a myriad of baking spices.  Waves of creamy vanilla calm the spices down.  The medium finish plays on the sweet and spicy theme that defines this rye whiskey.  

Kudos to the folks at Jack Daniel’s for putting together a great tasting and affordable rye whiskey.  The suggested retail price for a bottle is $26.99, just a few dollars more than the famous black label.  Fans of Jack who didn’t want to pay the $50 premium for the single barrel rye should reach for this release.  It’s damn near half the price and delivers a solid experience. 7.5/10

Thanks to Brown Forman for the sample.  As always, all thoughts and opinions are my own.

Old Forester Statesman Bourbon Review

When the trailer for Kingsman: The Golden Circle debuted online, I literally jumped for joy.  Kingsman was an insane thrill ride.  It’s sort a of 007 on speed all the while winking to the audience.  The sequel, which opens in theatres this Friday, looks to be even wilder.

Movie tie-ins are nothing new.  Sometimes they seemed forced, but every now and then they’re done right.  In the first film, the cover for the secret organization was a tailor’s shop.  In the new film, their American counterpart’s cover: a Kentucky bourbon distillery.  The filmmakers teamed up with none other than Old Forester to create a quality bourbon that would fit right in with the over-the-top world of The Kingsman.

Not that the bourbon is over-the-top.  Well, maybe a little.  This ain’t the Old Forester you’re used to.

The nose is notably spicier than the standard Old Forester.  There is lots of oak spice, which makes me think a lot of the barrels for this release were pulled from upper warehouse floors.  Some hot cocoa, vanilla extract and caramel balance out that spice.  On entry, a sort of spiced vanilla custard, the kind topped with ground cinnamon, plays strongly and is complimented by orange zest.  Some baking spice and a hint of leather on the midpalate add more complexity.  The finish is long, with orange dreamsicle and mint lingering.

Old Forester set out to make a whiskey that balanced spice and heat, and they’ve succeeded.  The volume’s turned up from the standard Old Forester flavor profile, but is still built around the distillery’s DNA.  The whiskey is both familiar and new.  I know what I’m sneaking into the theatre when I watch this film.  7.5/10