Jack Daniel’s Single Barrel Barrel Strength Review

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With over 150 years of history, the Jack Daniel’s brand and distillery was established by founder Jasper Newton ‘Jack’ Daniel in Moore County, TN in 1886. The youngest child of 10, Jack ran away from home as a young child and found refuge with Baptist preacher and distiller Dan Call. Under the supervision of Call and his Master Distiller, Nathan “Nearest” Green (an enslaved African-American man who continued to work with Call after emancipation) Jack was taught the distilling trade. After facing pressure from his clergy, Call eventually left the distilling operation and so Jack purchased the hollow and land where the modern-day distillery is now located, registered the distillery under his name, and continued operations with Green as his first Master Distiller. The No. 7 distillery quickly gained a strong reputation for the quality of its whiskey and even won the its first gold medal for its whiskey at the 1904 St. Louis World’s Fair. In subsequent decades, however, numerous setbacks to the distillery operation, including the cessation of distillation due to state and National Prohibition, saw the distillery shuttered for many years. Then under the ownership of Jack’s nephew Lem Motlow, the distillery wasn’t fully reopened until after the second world war in 1947 after good-quality corn was once again available. Following Motlow’s death in the same year his sons continued to run the business until eventually selling the operation to the Brown Forman Corporation in 1956.

Under Brown-Forman’s leadership and guidance, Jack Daniel’s whiskey and brand flourished. In the decades that followed the sale of the brand, the distillery returned to and surpassed its pre-prohibition strength and the brand underwent the transformation from a little known regional whiskey to an American icon as synonymous with the rock and roll movement of the 60’s and 70’s. Moving into the 80’s and 90’s the brand entered an age of innovation with products like Gentleman Jack, and Jack Daniel’s Single Barrel added to the portfolio as well as the setup of the Jack Daniel’s World Championship Invitational Barbecue® competition .

In modern times, the Jack Daniel’s brand has continued to prosper and in 2018 was ranked the most valuable global spirit brand. Further brand extensions now cover 16 different labels and include a full range of rye whiskies, several flavoured whiskies, several limited edition bottlings such as their Sinatra Select, a range of ready to drink offerings, and numerous distillery-only releases under their Tennessee Tasters. The distillery itself is still located in and around a hollow known as “Stillhouse Hollow” or “Jack Daniel’s Hollow”, where a spring flows from a cave at the base of a limestone cliff and provides the water used in creating every drop of whiskey. The distillery produces around 16 million cases of whiskey every year and in 2013 Brown Forman announced that they were investing $100 million dollars in an expansion of the Jack Daniel Distillery in response to global demand. The investment included the addition of stills, barrel warehouses, and related infrastructure to support the expanding operations and at present Jack Daniel’s have 89 barrel houses in Lynchburg, with each aging approximately 20,000 barrels of whiskey.

First released in the US in 2015, Jack Daniel’s Single Barrel Barrel Proof (labelled as ‘Barrel Strength’ for export markets) ​was the brand’s first-ever barrel strength offering. With individual bottlings ranging from 125 to 140 proof, Barrel Proof was the first permanent extension of the Single Barrel Collection which now includes Single Barrel Select, Single Barrel Select Rye, Single Barrel Select Barrel Proof, Single Barrel 100 Proof, and the Single Barrel Select Personal Collection. Coming from the same stocks as those used for the standard release of Single Barrel Select, Barrel Proof features standard Jack Daniel’s but from select casks that have been aging for longer than the standard release in the warmest spots of the rack houses to give a more robust and complex whiskey. In the US the whiskey is then bottled as is. However for the export, release comes proofed to 129 and bottled in ornate square decanters.

Vital Stats:

Name: Jack Daniel’s Single Barrel Barrel Strength
Age: NAS
Proof: 129 Proof (64.5% ABV)
Type: Tennessee Whiskey
Mashbill: 80% corn, 8% rye, and 12% malted barley
Producer: Jack Daniel Distillery, Lynchburg, TN
Website: https://www.jackdaniels.com/
Glassware: Glencairn

Review

Nose: The nose opens with sweet and earthy baking spices mixed in with dried red fruit, deep maple syrup, black pepper, and dry cacao powder. As you nose deeper sweet bourbon-soaked black cherry notes also emerge alongside darker oak notes.

Palate: The palate opens with roasted nuts covered in near burnt brown sugar, thick vanilla, dark caramel, white pepper rye spice, and dark chocolate. Once the peppery rye spice starts to fade, barrel-driven notes such as cloves and more toasted nuts dusted in cacao powder emerge alongside black cherry notes with a hint of foam bananas.

Finish: The finish opens with lingering heat and roasted nuts before a hint of dried black cherry, dark chocolate, and baking spices leads into an aftertaste of tannic oak, spices, roasted nuts, and lingering black pepper and cacao.

Overall 

Now, this is the Jack Daniel’s release I’ve spent the better part of a decade waiting for! I am satisfied with what’s in my glass. We all know the classic JD profile and this elevates that in every way, adding spice, heat, and complexity galore to deliver a true barrel strength sipping experience that doesn’t cut any corners. In fact, this tastes so good I’m not sure how easy it’s going to be going back to drinking the comparatively ‘mild mannered’ JD black Label or Single Barrel unless I found myself in the mood for something with less spice or found myself in a bar with no other bourbon options than the ole’ reliable bottle of JD that’s usually sat off to the side and covered in dust (What can I say, I live in Ireland after all).

A barrel strength offering has been asked for consistently by JD fans on all sides of the pond and I’m glad JD released something worthy of the wait. Yes, this UK version is proofed down to a consistent 64.5% ABV in all cases but even at this proof, you don’t feel like you’ve gotten the short end of the stick and there’s plenty of character in every drop. The only word of caution I would say about this release is JD fans who are jumping to this straight from Single Barrel or black label will be in for a spicy ride if they haven’t taken the time to explore what a barrel proof bourbon consists of. Yes, JD isn’t your traditional bourbon due to the filtration process but taking the time to work your way up through the ranks of different proofs would definitely increase your enjoyment of this whiskey if only to show you how close it comes to some of the more sought-after limited release barrel proof bourbon expressions people pay an arm and a leg for!

I have been drinking JD longer than any other brand of American whiskey, in fact, JD black label was the whiskey that got me interested in American whiskies in the first place! In that time, I haven’t tasted many of their more expensive releases, however, I have been fond of their single barrel releases and I’m happy to report that this is the next level of flavour and JD experience I was looking out for.

Is there a more expensive but better-tasting JD offering out there? Maybe? Am I happy with what I have in front of me? Absolutely!

Try or Buy?

This UK version of JD Barrel Strength comes in at just under £100 which puts it over the €100 limit for EU customers. Being that close to the limit, see if you can try it first. This is not for the faint of heart-this barrel was quite spicy so if you’re new to barrel proof offerings it’s not where I would recommend you start.

If you’re a long-time JD fan like me, however, and want to taste the pinnacle of their profile then go for it knowing you’re getting a great-tasting whiskey for your money.

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Before you go…

Before you go…

Before you go…

Like you, I’m a whiskey enthusiast. I don’t earn any money from distilleries, their parent companies, or their subsidiaries for my reviews. If you like what you’ve read and want to support this page then why not buy me a dram?

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Your contribution is appreciated and will ensure I can keep this website impartial, operational, and stocked full of new content. Cheers!

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Me a Dram!
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