Editor’s Note: These whiskeys were provided to us as review samples by Jack Daniel’s. This in no case, by our editorial policies, influenced the final outcome of this review. It should also be noted that by clicking the purchase link at the bottom of this review, our site receives a small sponsorship payment which helps support, but not influence, our editorial and other costs.
Jack Daniel’s is one of the most recognized brands in the American whiskey catalog. Walk into any local haunt or upscale drinking establishment and you can spot it on the shelf behind the bar. Besides their trademark black label, Jack Daniel’s continues to manufacture a myriad of craft-style and flavored whiskeys in an effort to capture a large share of the drinker’s market with their established flavor palate.
Based in Lynchburg, Tennessee, Jack Daniel’s has been part of the American whiskey experience since the late 1800s. The current distillery was established in 1956 under the ownership of Brown-Foreman Corporation. Between its inception and the establishment of modern ownership, it was in 1905 that Jack Daniel’s gained a wider name by winning a gold medal for best whiskey at the 1904 World’s Fair in St. Louis.
Jack Daniel’s has built an enduring brand and continues to build on its traditions. This time, I tasted two very different varieties of whisky. Tennessee Travelers whiskeys are limited editions and are meant to showcase the brand’s attention to detail and growth beyond their traditional flavor palate. So, with these two offerings, Sweet and Oaky, and Bold and Spicy, what story is Jack Daniel writing? Is the story in the glass fresh enough to attract a new group of drinkers to their brand?
Tasting Notes: Jack Daniel’s Tennessee Travelers Sweet & Oaky
Vital Stats: 107 proofs, limited edition, pure Tennessee Whiskey, $23
Appearance: dark red amber
Nose: Artificial vanilla extract, cane sugar, brown sugar, hint of caramel, cough syrup. These sweet notes are very characteristic of my samplings of Jack Daniel’s. Their whiskey leans heavily on the sweet. Even on the nose, this one has more sugar than I tend to prefer.
Palace: From the first sip, a pleasant warmth persists. The sweet character is predominant on the attack, but does not linger once swallowed. There isn’t much of a lingering aftertaste. A little oak and black pepper color the base. Sweetness has an artificial note. At first, it was difficult to identify individual notes beyond sweet. Caramel and vanilla are not as present as on the nose, just warmth and a medicinal sweetness. There is a bit of cinnamon and clove mixed in, but they boost the heat more than the flavor, in my opinion.
Summary: I would only recommend this whiskey to heavy drinkers. It delivers on the sweet and there was some oakiness, but they weren’t very well balanced. It would work as a mixer, but if you’re looking for a whiskey with a wide flavor palette, this might not be for you.
Tasting Notes: Jack Daniel’s Tennessee Travelers Bold and Spicy
Vital Stats: 107 proofs, limited edition, pure Tennessee Whiskey, $17
Appearance: dark red amber
Nose: Circus Peanuts (the candy), raw sugar and a hint of baking spice ring from the first puffs. There’s a touch of oak and old leather, which is much more what I expect from a name that includes “bold”.
Palace: From the first sip, it presents a good sensation in the mouth that envelops. It’s not overly sweet, which is a departure from Jack Daniel’s in my experience. There’s fruit here with a hint of orange and banana as well as some dried cherry, all in decent balance with the spicy notes. Oak, white pepper, and clove are at the front of the packet along with the baking spices. It’s the first Jack Daniel’s I’ve tasted that wasn’t too sweet. The naturalness of rye helps keep it under control for sure.
Summary: It is a pleasant whisky. Venturing beyond the sweet notes and leaning more into the rye notes plays a lot more on my palate. The price is reasonable and makes it a solid entry into the price-conscious arena of American whiskeys.
Final Thoughts: The Bold and Spicy is a decent drink neat or on ice. It’s a good rye that doesn’t try to be something it isn’t. The Sweet and Oaky does not deliver its description and leans too much on sweet flavors in my opinion. If you feel like pouring your money in a bottle of Jack, I’d recommend going for the Bold and Spicy. It’s a decent bottle and does what it promises.