Whiskey Review: Jack Daniel’s Single Barrel Special Release 2020 Barrel Proof Rye

Editor’s Note: This whiskey was provided to us as a review sample by Jack Daniel’s. This in no way, per our editorial policiesinfluenced the final outcome of this review. It should also be noted that by clicking the buy link towards the bottom of this review our site receives a small referral payment which helps to support, but not influence, our editorial and other costs.

Jack Daniel’s is one of the most recognizable names in American whiskey today. Primarily known for their Tennessee sour mash Old No. 7, one does not necessarily think “rye” when they hear Jack Daniel’s.  The distillery, based in Lynchburg, Tennessee, launched their first rye in 2017 after making whiskey for over 150 years. Rye had steadily gained popularity over the previous decade, owed to a resurgence of its use in craft cocktails. At the end of 2020 the brand released a Single Barrel Special Release Barrel Proof Rye.

Consisting of just 200 barrels, it is noted to be a Tennessee rye that is the distillery’s newest recipe since Prohibition. The mash bill is 70% rye, 12% malt and 18% corn, with a proof in the range of 125 – 140 depending on the barrel. This is the first release for newly appointed Master Distiller Chris Fletcher who has said, “This barrel proof offering is as close as you can get to being inside a barrelhouse and sampling for yourself”. With a rye heavy mash bill and high proof this whiskey is likely to have quite a bit of spice. It is aged in new American white oak barrels with the Jack Daniel’s signature charcoal mellowing. 

Jack Daniel’s Single Barrel Special Release 2020 Barrel Proof Rye is available in limited quantities with an MSRP of $65 per 750 ml bottle. It was drawn from barrels that were aging in the highest areas of a barrel house.

Jack Daniel's Single Barrel 2020 Special Release Barrel Proof Rye

Jack Daniel’s Single Barrel 2020 Special Release Barrel Proof Rye (image via Jack Daniel’s)

Tasting Notes: Jack Daniel’s Single Barrel Special Release 2020 Barrel Proof Rye

Vital Stats: Mash Bill: 70% rye, 12% malt, 18% corn. Aged in new American oak. Charcoal mellowed. 125 – 140 proof. $65. 

Appearance: Copper

Nose: Fruit notes of lemon zest and banana are noted on the front of the nose then quickly disappear. It is then rich with french toast, brown sugar, melted butter and vanilla. The nose is surprisingly bourbon-like.

Palate: Banana cream pie with freshly whipped cream and vanilla make way for a spicy mid palate of cinnamon, black pepper and clove. This is followed by a fairly mellow but lengthy finish of earl grey, star anise and ginger that numbs the cheek and tongue. The proof is there but manageable.

The Takeaway

Summary

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This wowed me. My sample was 130.8 proof and it’s been a while since I tasted a whiskey that strong and wanted another sip. It is incredibly flavorful with a palate that balances the icy hot effect of rye with the sweetness for which Jack Daniel’s is known. The finish isn’t what I would call “smooth” but the burn was just enough and spices danced around for a significant time after swallowing. Jack Daniel’s special editions will be on my radar for the foreseeable future.

4.0
User Rating 3.14 (21 votes)
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