Tennessee Whiskey

Review: Jack Daniel’s Heritage Barrel

JDSB_SpecialRelease_Heritage Barrel

Photo courtesy of Jack Daniel’s.

Jack Daniel’s was my first foray into whiskey years ago.  So it’s of great interest to me when the iconic whiskey brand releases a special edition.  With their new Heritage Barrel, the folks at Jack Daniel’s are mainly focused on barrel toasting techniques of early coopers.  Jack Daniel’s makes their own barrels, which is an extreme rarity among the major distilleries.

For this release, 200 barrels have been slowly heated, “achieving a deeper, richer toasted layer before being charred,” according to press materials.  It doesn’t end with specially toasted barrels.  The whiskey entered these barrels at a lower entry proof than usual and matured in the upper floors of one of their highest elevated warehouses.  The resulting single barrel whiskey was bottled at a hearty 100 proof.

The nose here is rich with big spiced banana and vanilla notes.  Maple syrup-covered pancakes and some oak show up with a little airtime.  On entry, that viscous and sweet maple syrup note is quickly joined by a peppering of cinnamon, allspice, and orange rind.  Charred banana and vanilla remind me of wonderful Bananas Foster.  Toasted oak, and the slight astringency usually associated with it, start showing up towards the back palate.  The medium finish leaves a lingering hint of spiced caramel and oak.

The slowly toasted barrels together with the lower entry proof, upper floor maturation, and high bottling proof have done wonders to the whiskey coming out of Lynchburg, Tennessee.  The resulting whiskey is rich, spicy, and amplified version of the Jack Daniel’s whiskey we’re all familiar with.  Heritage Barrel isn’t as spicy/astringent as Sinatra Select.  Instead, it comes across as a bit more balanced.  Delicious!  At $64.99 a bottle, Jack Daniel’s Heritage Barrel comes with a high recommendation.  8.5/10


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

Barrell Bourbon Batch 006 Review

Barrell Bourbon Batch 006

Batch 006 of Barrell Bourbon hit shelves soon after the excellent Batch 005 release.  We don’t know what distillery this comes from, but here’s what we do know.  It’s distilled in Tennessee and its mashbill is comprised of 70% corn, 26% rye, and 4% corn.  It’s also 8 years old and 122.9 proof.  So far, on paper it’s the same as the previous batch.  Batch 005 was aged 3 months longer and carries a slightly higher proof. Batch 006 was aged on lower floors of the rick house, where maturation is just a tad slower compared to whiskey aging on higher floors.

Compared to Batch 005, the current Batch 006 is more mellow.  Toffee and sweet roasted corn jump out of the glass.  Diving deeper, I pick up oak, vanilla extract and fruit.  Taste-wise, there’s a very brief alcohol hit.  Again it’s brief, and not as bad as you’d think from barrel proof bourbon.  What immediately stands out is how oily and creamy this bourbon is.  It’s like sweet buttered corn bread with maple syrup.  The rye spice compliments and cuts through these rich flavors.  On the backend leading to the finish is a touch of vanilla and Red Hots.  The finish is long, and leaves behind a combination of barrel char, orange peel and cinnamon candy.

Barrell Bourbon founder Joe Beatrice makes it a point that each batch of bourbon is unique.  The release of Batch 005 and Batch 006 is basically an exercise in barrel maturation location.  Beatrice has selected some outstanding barrels for both batches.  Batch 005 comes across as spicier, with that spice showing up as cinnamon.  Batch 006 is just a touch richer and better balanced, but you won’t go wrong with either release.  Highly recommended!

(Note: A review sample was provided by Barrell Bourbon.)

George Dickel No. 8 Tennessee Whisky Review

Wrapping up the short series on Tennessee whiskey is George Dickel’s entry level No. 8 Tennessee Whisky.   How does it hold up to their slightly older No. 12 or Barrel Select?  (Thanks to Taylor Strategy for the sample.)

George Dickel No. 8

There’s some light caramel and very slight oak on the nose.  Taste-wise there’s some slight burn on entry, but nothing too harsh.  I get some caramel and a hint of vanilla and some slight oak.  Not a complex whisky.  Also, this isn’t as sweet as other Dickel whiskies.  There is a pleasant lightness to this one though.  I sampled this during a Louisiana summer, so the lightness was nice.  The finish was pretty quick, and kind of on the dry side.  As with most of the Tennessee whiskies I sampled in the series, the charcoal filtration that was used mellowed this one pretty well.

I enjoyed George Dickel’s other two Tennessee whisky entries more than this, especially their Barrel Select.   That one had more happening in the glass flavor-wise.  At 80 proof though, it’s not a bad starter whisky or “everyday sip,” especially at it’s $16 price tag.  There’s better out there in the Under $20 category, like Four Roses Yellow Label, but George Dickel No. 8 will do in a pinch.