Jack Daniel’s Old No. 7 is a legendary Tennessee whiskey. That’s right, whiskey, not a bourbon. They filter the spirit through 10 feet of sugar maple charcoal, which gives it a mellow yet slightly smoky character. That is why Jack Daniel calls its product Tennessee whiskey.
Jack Daniel’s Old No. 7 is iconic especially in the rock n’ roll community. Musicians like Slash from Guns ‘N’ Roses and the late Motörhead frontman “Lemmy” Kilmister have helped JD achieve its image as a whiskey for rockers. Which it actually is because of its harsh palate. My first JD experience came as a teenager, because I’d seen my favorite guitarist (Slash) hold a bottle of Jack so many times. Eventually I got to taste this Tennessee whiskey, just to discover that this is no dram for inexperienced drinker. Did you know that you can call Jack and Coke Lemmy nowadays?
Little bit about the skyrocketing success of Jack Daniel’s whiskey: in 1942 a supply shortage made Old No. 7 hard to find, which made high demand. In 1944 during WWII built a peak, so that the distillery had to cease production for getting resources.
1947 marks as very important year for the brand. That’s when Jackie Gleason introduced Frank Sinatra to Jack Daniel’s Tennessee Whiskey in a New York City bar. This start of a new friendship between Frank and Jack lifted the brand to a whole new level. Sinatra helped the brand to rise into a household name – top selling American whiskey in the world. Jack Daniel’s has made more than one special edition in honor of Ol’ Blue Eyes, Sinatra Select is the latest.
Frank used to order his favorite drink “Daniel’s, on the rocks”. It wasn’t “Jack” back then. And you had to pour two fingers of Jack Daniel’s over the ice. Here’s Frank’s daughter Tina talking about his dad and Jack Daniel’s:
Jack Daniel’s mash bill recipe consists of 80% corn, 12% barley and 8% rye. The low percentage of rye sounds amazing, because JD feels like a high rye mash bill whiskey. Jack Daniel’s 7 is very sturdy, it’s quite spicy and warming, resembling rye whiskies a bit.
I can’t think of anything else than the movie Strictly Sinatra. It pops into my head while sipping JD No. 7. Although I like to drink my whiskies neat, not the way Sinatra did. Maybe just a few drops of water. I’m not going to lie, I still don’t like this whiskey too much. I’m a big fan of Sinatra, but it still doesn’t help me to fall in love for this drink. I do believe that once in a while you have to try the things you don’t like that much. To help you appreciate the better stuff even more. That’s how you feel more alive. I know this sounds crazy but that’s why I love and hate Jack Daniel’s Old No. 7!
I have to admit Old No. 7 isn’t as bad as I recalled. It’s been a while since I last tried it. And the bad experiences as a teenager still haunted me. Luckily my palate has become accustomed to bold or even harsh flavors. Jack Daniel’s is still a heavy character, which I give credit to them achieving it with only 40% ABV. But it doesn’t feel as harsh as it used to feel, when first experiencing it as a teenager. My love for sturdy rye whiskies probably help me understand this Tennessee dram. What I don’t understand is the low rye percentage in Jack’s recipe. How can it taste so bold without heavy rye influence?