Editor’s Note: These whiskeys were provided to us as review samples by Jack Daniel’s. This in no way, per our editorial policies, influenced 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 recognized brands in the American catalog of whiskey. Go to any local haunt, or high-end drinking establishment, and you will be able to spot it gracing the shelf behind the bar. Aside from their branded black label, Jack Daniel’s continues to craft a myriad of craft-style and flavored whiskeys with the intent of capturing a wide share of the drinker’s market with their established flavor palate.
Based out of Lynchburg, Tennessee, Jack Daniel’s has been a part of the American whiskey experience since the late 1800’s. The current distillery was established in 1956 under the ownership of the Brown-Foreman Corporation. Between its inception and the establishment of the modern ownership, it was in 1905 that Jack Daniel’s gained a wider name of note by earning a gold medal for the finest whiskey at the 1904 St. Louis World’s Fair.
Jack Daniel’s has built a sustainable brand and continues to build on their traditions. This time, I sampled two distinctly different varieties of whiskey. The Tennessee Travelers whiskeys are limited edition releases and are meant to showcase attention to detail and growth in the brand beyond their traditional flavor palate. So, with these two offerings, Sweet and Oaky, and Bold and Spicy, what story is Jack Daniel’s writing? Is the story in the glass fresh enough to draw in a new batch of drinkers to their brand?
Tasting Notes: Jack Daniel’s Tennessee Travelers Sweet & Oaky
Vital Stats: 107 proof, limited edition, straight 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 to my samplings of Jack Daniel’s. Their whiskey leans hard on the sweet. Even in the nose, this one presents more sugar than I tend to prefer.
Palate: Upon the first sip, there is a pleasant amount of heat that lingers. The sweet character is predominant up front, but doesn’t hang around once swallowed. There is not much of a lingering aftertaste. A bit of oak and black pepper color the back end. The sweetness has an artificial note to it. At first, it was difficult to identify individual notes beyond sweet. Caramel and vanilla are not as present as on the nose, just the heat and a medicinal sweetness. There is a bit of cinnamon and clove mixed in, but they play up the heat more than the flavor, in my opinion.
Summary: I would only recommend this whiskey for drinkers with a sweet tooth. It delivers on the sweet and there was a bit of oak, but they were not very well balanced. It would work as a mixer, but if you are looking for a whiskey with a broad flavor palette, this might not be for you.
Tasting Notes: Jack Daniel’s Tennessee Travelers Bold and Spicy
Vital Stats: 107 proof, limited edition, straight Tennessee Whiskey, $17
Appearance: Dark red amber
Nose: Circus Peanuts (the candy), raw sugar, and a hint of baking spices ring in the first wafts. There is touch of oak and old leather, which is much more of what I expect from a name including “bold.”
Palate: On the first sip it presents a good mouthfeel that coats. It is not overly sweet, which is a departure for Jack Daniel’s in my experience. There is some fruit in 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 pack with the baking spices. This is the first Jack Daniel’s I have sampled that was not overly sweet. The natural character of the rye helps keep it reigned in for sure.
Summary: This is a pleasant whiskey. Venturing past the sweet and leaning harder into the rye notes plays to my palate much more. The price tag is reasonable and makes this a solid entry into the price conscious arena of American whiskeys.
Final Thoughts: The Bold and Spicy is a decent sipper either neat or on ice. It is a fine rye that doesn’t try to be something it is not. The Sweet and Oaky does not deliver on its description and leans too hard on the sweet flavors in my opinion. If you feel like sinking your cash into a bottle of Jack, I say go with the Bold and Spicy. It is a decent bottle and delivers on its promises.