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  • Writer's pictureJoseph Bourbon

Jack Daniel's Bonded

Often when remakes are done, they're never as good as the original classic version. Jack Daniels Bonded Tennessee Whiskey might have proven that statement wrong.

Making a Great Whiskey Greater While today, the Jack Daniels brand is owned by Brown-Forman (the makers of Woodford Reserve and the Old Forester lineup), this Tennessee brand traces its roots to Jasper Newton "Jack" Daniel. Born sometime between 1846 and 1850, Jack was the youngest of 10 children. He was later orphaned when his father Job died during the American Civil War. He was taken in by Dan Call - a local lay minister and moonshine distiller. There, he learned the art of distilling from Call and his black slave Master Distiller, Nathan "Nearest" Green (from whence the "Uncle Nearest Whiskey" brand originated). By 1875, Daniel began distilling legally with Call. By 1884, Daniel had purchased the hollow and the land currently occupied by the Jack Daniel Distillery. His original flagship brand - Old No. 7 - is a reference to the government number originally assigned to Daniel's distillery. Prohibition came early to Tennessee in 1910, nearly a decade prior to passage of the Eighteenth Amendment. Tennessee remained dry until 1938 when operations restarted. The brand grew in popularity and was added to Brown-Forman's lineup in 1956.

Jack Daniel's Bonded begins with the same mash bill as its flagship Old No. 7 Tennessee Whiskey - 80% corn, 8% rye, and 12% malted barley. While the grains utilized meet the mash bill requirement for bourbon, the "Lincoln County Process" it undergoes after distillation and before barreling disqualifies it as such. The process takes six days whereby the finished distillate slowly drips into and passes through charcoal was made by burning maple hardwood that was soaked in 140 proof Jack Daniel's whiskey. Following the process, famous for smoothing and mellowing the product, the distillate is then barreled in new oak charred barrels for aging.

The Tasting Jack Daniels Bonded is produced according to the Bottled-in-Bond Act of 1897. As such, it is the product of a single distillation season and is produced by a single distiller at a single location (no mingling of whiskeys from different seasons, ages, or locations). In addition, it has been aged in a federally bonded warehouse under U.S. government supervision for at least 4 years. The finished product is bottled at 100 proof and is labeled to identify the distillery where it was produced (DSP-TN-1).

From the website, we're told that the barrels are hand-selected for their characteristics of deeper color, flavor, and aroma, which deliver a darker, richer and more oak-forward character with caramel, rich oak, and spice. Color: Brilliant amber with medium legs displayed inside the Glencairn glass. Nose: Warm brown sugar and caramel with that light Jack Daniel's banana note - like warm banana cake served with vanilla ice cream. Truly delicious. Palate: True to the nose, and heavy with vanilla, maple syrup and brown sugar blended with tropical banana before being overwhelmed by the maple syrup notes. The heat from the proof is balanced nicely by the overall sweetness. The Lincoln County process has left a smooth and mellow palate. Finish: Oak, vanilla and more bananas lead quickly to a medium sweet finish with a dash of nutmeg baking spice arriving late. Overall: I began this review by saying that sometimes remakes just fail to live up to the original. In this case, this new bonded version is far better than the original. It is rich and full with layers of flavor and is a fine blend of sweet and savory notes. MSRP is $30; here in the Midwest at a large regional chain, I paid a little more than that for this 700ml bottle. I've felt the Old No. 7 expression to be somewhat tame and the finish fleeting. Jack Daniel's Bonded brings all the notes you like about Old No. 7 and improves on the brand's history. This is a bourbon drinker's new favorite Tennessee whiskey.

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