Whiskey price

Jack Daniel’s Just Released Their Best Whiskey (And It’s About $30)

“Innovation has been a huge priority here in recent years.

It’s a bold statement from Chris Fletcher, the master distiller of Jack Daniel’s, the world’s biggest whiskey brand and a company that’s pretty much known around the world for its iconic Old No. 7 Tennesse square whiskey bottle. .

This flagship bottle accounts for approximately 95% of what Jack Daniel’s sells each year. Add a few percentage points for Honey, the milder Gentleman Jack, and some other flavored products (like Tennessee Fire), and there doesn’t seem to be much room for more experimental or artisanal expressions.

But over the past few years, Fletcher — hailing from the Tennessee whiskey brand’s home in Lynchburg, TN, and grandson of the late master distiller Frank “Frog” Bobo — has led a concerted effort to help the distillery diversify. While Jack Daniel’s has already dipped its toes into the craft whiskey scene – single barrel, rye, “Sinatra Select” – the last two years have seen Jack Daniel’s release its first post-prohibition age statement bottle (10 years old) and the unexpected Coy Hill High Proof, an extremely limited version with a seemingly ridiculous proof point that stretched all the way up to 148.3.

Jack Daniel’s master distiller Chris Fletcher and the statue of Jack Daniel

Kirk Miller

While this latest release came as a bit of a surprise, Fletcher is adamant that Jack Daniel’s has a track record for innovation. “Everything we do is very calculated,” he told us at the unveiling of the brand’s two new models in Lynchburg. “It’s not an accident. Nothing we release is a ‘lost’ or forgotten barrel. We’re focused and it’s all part of a plan we’ve been working on since 2014.”

Part of that blueprint arrived this month in the form of two like-minded new releases, Jack Daniel’s Bonded and Jack Daniel’s Triple Mash. Permanent additions to the JD line – the company touts these bottles as their first “super premium line extension in 25 years” – both new expressions are Bottled-in-Bond versions, a designation that appeared all the way back in 1897. At the time, the Bottled in Bond Act (one of the nation’s first consumer protection laws) was a way to curb some bad actors in whiskey. Essentially, a bonded whiskey must be distilled by a single distiller in a single season, matured in a government bonded warehouse for at least four years, and bottled at 100 degrees.

One thing that a bound whiskey accomplishes, both in 1897 and today, is that it acts as a quality control marker. “Now you have so many non-producing brands coming into the whiskey market,” Jeff Arnett, former master distiller at Jack Daniel’s, told me a few years ago. “Due to the guidelines, a bonded bottled product will come from the manufacturers. Those brands that have grown by buying liquids – and many of them are successful – cannot do so in bonded bottles. It is the old manufacturers who reassert themselves; [it’s saying] we are the whiskey makers.

And it’s a designation that Fletcher and his team, which includes assistant distiller Lexie Phillips, are trying to revive. It’s not just a logo on a t-shirt.

“We are present in 170 countries and, in a way, Jack Daniel’s has become a generic term for ‘whisky’,” says brand historian Nelson Eddy. “But it hasn’t always been so huge. We still make whiskey in a very old way. It is still a handmade product.

That craft could get lost if you’re just drinking Jack Daniel’s at a bar, or even making the 1.5-hour trip out of Nashville to visit the distillery house. The thousands of visitors who flock to Lynchburg every year probably leave with little more than a t-shirt, a fun photo taken next to the Jack Daniel monument – he was small, by the way – and a newfound appreciation and knowledge. charcoal sweetening, the process that differentiates bourbon from Tennessee whisky.

(One thing has changed at the distillery: between my first visit there in 2016 and again in April of this year, there have been more concerted efforts to mention the contributions of Nathan “Nearest” Green, a slave who befriended and mentored a young Jack Daniel and was later hired as the distillery’s first Master Distiller.)

What casual drinkers miss is what makes Jack Daniel’s special, and it’s the processes that actually allow this massive, iconic brand to take real risks more easily and even advantageously. Basically, when you have 90+ barrels on site and own your own cooperages (which no other large distillery can claim), you get built-in advantages when it comes to choosing barrels or putting aside unique mash bills.

One of over 90 barrels currently used by Jack Daniel's

One of over 90 barrels currently used by Jack Daniel’s

Kirk Miller

Moreover, you can manage yourself. Fletcher spent two hours thoroughly discussing the distillery’s proprietary yeast, which permeates much of the flavor throughout the entire Jack Daniel’s line. It’s a luxury that a small distiller could not easily replicate.

This all brings us back to the two new bottles.

Visually, the packaging for the new Bonded series is a throwback to the bottles Jack Daniel’s produced in 1895. Jack Daniel’s Bonded uses the same mashbill as Old No. 7 – it’s 80% corn, 12% malted barley and 8% rye, but now 100 proof. Casks were selected with an emphasis on whiskey that exhibited a darker, deeper color; this leads to a woodier, spicier expression (both in a cinnamon/baking spice sort of way, but also with the rye standing out more than usual) than the Old No. 7.

“He hits a sweet spot with the evidence,” adds Fletcher. “We have great whiskeys to sip and we have great whiskeys to mix. This one is geared towards classic cocktails – it’s not full barrel proof, but it’s balanced.

The real star? New Jack Daniel’s Triple Mash Blended Straight Whiskey, an unlikely marriage of three Straight Bottled-In-Bond whiskeys – 60% Jack Daniel’s Tennessee Rye, 20% Jack Daniel’s Tennessee Whiskey and 20% Jack Daniel’s American Malt. “I don’t know of any other Blended Bottled-in-Bond whisky, and I didn’t know you could even make this kind of blend for very long,” says Fletcher.

Although very classic Jack Daniel’s on the nose, the malt offers a creamy mouthfeel that contrasts nicely with the spice of the rye. But there are also notes of fruit, honey, biscuit and a sweeter oak note here, which come together on a long-lasting finish.

Another way for Jack Daniel’s to use his size to his advantage? These “premium” offerings aren’t reflected in the price: you’ll spend around $30-33 for each bottle, only a few dollars more than the old No.7.

During my visit, Fletcher and Philips hinted at other bold new expressions that are coming in the near future: More (and more) age claims. And a related American malt… which technically could be called an American single malt, which might surprise some craft whiskey drinkers.

While this all sounds like a breakthrough for the oldest registered distillery in the United States, Eddy – the brand historian who has worked at Jack Daniel’s since 1987 – sees the new expressions a little differently. “We’ll have a new product or two every year now, so things have changed,” he admits. “But also, many haven’t. Much of what we do still has a basis in our history.

Note: Pre-orders for new releases of Jack Daniel’s Bonded have already sold out on ReserveBar, but again these will be permanent additions to the Distillery’s main lineup.