Jack Daniel’s Bonded 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 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.

Announced in May of this year, Jack Daniel’s Bonded and Jack Daniel’s Triple Mash are Jack Daniel’s first super-premium line extensions in 25 years. As permanent additions to the existing portfolio, they are also the first releases under the new Bonded Series, which, according to Jack Daniel’s, “honors the whiskey-making excellence of the iconic Jack Daniel Distillery…”  and will feature some exciting new whiskey styles from the distillery.

Today we’ll be looking at Jack Daniel’s Bonded expression. This features Jack Daniel’s standard mashbill with the addition of being Bottled-in-Bond. As with all ‘Bonded’ whiskies, this means that (as stipulated by the Bottled in Bond Act of 1897), the whiskey must have been distilled by a single distiller during a single season, matured in a government bonded warehouse for at least four years and bottled at 100 proof. This law was introduced in the late 1870s when the whiskey market was heavily unregulated. On one hand, you had straight whiskey producers making whiskies from grains: distilling, barrelling, ageing them for the required 2 years or longer, bottling once mature, and hoping to sell them to make an honest living. On the other side, you had many dishonest rectifiers who bought their distillate from unknown sources, aged it for questionable amounts of time, frequently blended it with whiskey from several distilleries, added stuff such as tobacco spit, iodine, colouring, and sometimes poisonous additives, then sold these heavily adulterated whiskies with false claims of age and quality for a good deal cheaper than the straight whiskey distillers. Despite a number of rectifiers selling honest quality whiskey, many flooded the market with cheap, sometimes poisonous, ‘whiskey’ which damaged the industry by breaking the trust and risking the health of consumers all whilst putting honest distillers out of business. The end result was the Bottled in Bond Act which ironically was also the first piece of consumer protection legislation in the US.

For this bottling, Jack Daniel’s state that they have specifically chosen barrels, “for their unique and particular characteristics of deeper color, flavor, and aroma, which bring a darker, richer, and more oak-forward character to Jack Daniel’s Bonded. It is a big, bold Tennessee Whiskey at 100 proof with layered notes of caramel, rich oak, and spice giving way to a pleasantly lingering finish.”

How exactly does this translate into what’s in the glass? Let’s find out!

Vital Stats:

Name: Jack Daniel’s Bonded
Age: NAS (at least 4 years old)
Proof: 100 Proof (50% ABV)
Type: Tennessee Whiskey
Mashbill: 80% corn, 8% rye, and 12% malted barley
Producer: Jack Daniel Distillery, Lynchburg, TN
Glassware: Glencairn


Nose: The nose opens strong with warm baking spices, sweet caramel, a touch of foam bananas as expected and a hell of a lot of fresh cherries. As you nose deeper, the cherry notes turn jammy and more concentrated, whilst the bananas dissolve into a powdered sugar note, the baking spices become increasingly earthy, the caramels gain a dark edge, and a kick of ethanol waits towards the end.

Palate: The palate opens with dark caramel notes, warm earthy baking spices, thick toasted oak, a touch of cherries, and a flash of foam bananas. As you keep chewing the baking spices and toasted oak notes remain dominant giving spices like nutmeg, ginger powder, and a touch of bitter char. There’s also a decent bit of heat that builds on the palate to a sippable warmth that runs down the sides of the tongue.

Finish: The finish opens with lingering spice-driven warmth, dried cherries and cranberries, milk chocolate, toasted oak, and a warm aftertaste of toasted oak, baking spices, lingering dark caramels and warm toasted nut notes. 


Another day, another whopper release from Jack Daniels! This is robust and complex with all the flavours hitting the mark and has more spice and oak than I could have hoped for. These flavors transcend the syrupy caramel and vanilla bean-heavy sweetness that I typically get in the classic black label. Yes, it still retains its Jack Daniel’s character but also provides a new flavour experience and did I mention that it’s Bottled-in-Bond?! When I heard that Jack Daniels had announced their Bonded Series with two new permanent additions I was delighted. Regardless of what Jack Daniel’s has released in once-off or seasonal expressions in recent years, the quality has remained consistently high. At a fundamental level Bonded whiskies have the key building blocks for whiskey success: they’re aged to a decent minimum age, they’re bottled at a good proof, and there’s no option to blend away imperfections with older stocks. Combine these requirements with the level of consistent quality and whiskey-making pedigree Jack Daniel’s possess and conditions are perfect for something marvellous.

As someone who has been drinking Jack Daniels’ black label for over a decade now, I was pleasantly surprised by how much of an improvement this is over the standard release. In fact, even nosing them side by side I found this to be lively and complex out of the glass, whereas the standard black label felt dim in comparison and I could barely smell anything from the glass apart from light caramel syrup.

Since the change of guard announced in 2020, Jack Daniel’s have had a number of exciting releases under Master Distiller Chris Fletcher and Assistant Distiller Lexie Phillips which have reassured the many die-hard fans that the Distillery is continuing not only in the right direction, but it also destined for new and exciting pastures and I very much look forward to more interesting releases under this series.

Try or Buy?

Not only is the RRP for this $30 (~£40), but it’s greatly improved over the standard black label and gives fans of Jack Daniel’s a unique Jack Daniel’s experience. This is not a no-brainer, buy!


Before you go…

Before you go…

Before you go…

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