Ending a century-long lapse, the world’s top-selling American whiskey is marketing a bottle with an age statement: Jack Daniel’s 10 Year Old Tennessee Whiskey.
While master distiller Chris Fletcher has said that it honors “the whiskey Jack Daniel was bottling at the end of the 1800s,” the new spirit is also the result of recent experimentation to achieve that aim. Because temperatures in multistoried warehouses vary from floor to floor, the whiskies inside age at different rates. Barrels in the superheated upper regions might be relocated to slow down maturation. As is done in a handful of other distilleries, select barrels were moved around the warehouses to allow them to mature for the full 10 years and create this Jack Daniel’s 10 Year Old.
The company’s familiar standard-bearer, the black-labeled Old No. 7, is matured for four to five years, although it has no age statement. The same is true for Jack Daniel’s Single Barrel, which is between 18 months and two years older than Old No. 7.
Jack Daniel’s 10 Year Old is otherwise made the same way as the other variants, using the same spring water and mash bill of corn, rye and barley. And like the others, it’s a Tennessee whiskey, which is distinguished from Bourbon by the Lincoln County process by which the liquid is filtered through 10 feet of sugar maple charcoal.
The alcohol level of the 10-year-old is also set at a unique level for the brand, 97 proof, or 48.5 percent alcohol. By comparison, Old No. 7 is an 80-proof product.
Another nod to the past is in the packaging. Jack Daniel’s revived the hand-drawn cartouche from the original age-statement bottles that contained the pronouncement “10 YEARS OLD.”
The new whiskey is now on the shelves, but in very limited availability. However, Jack Daniel’s plans annual releases of the 10-Year-old. Armed with a precious sample, we thought we’d pair it with a deserving cigar.
Jack Daniel’s 10 Years Old Tennessee Whiskey
(97 proof, $70)
Appearance: elegant amber color, tear-drop legs.
Nose: Maple sugar meets nuanced spices.
Palate: The maple bursts onto the tip of the tongue with a pronounced sweetness that then dissipates through the mouth, warming to a candied spiciness, with toffee and then leather and walnuts.
Finish: The lengthy encore is drier than the palate, lifting the nuttiness with an almond note.
(6 inches, 50 ring gauge, $7.49, 91 points, Cigar Aficionado, June 2021)
Though solid to the touch, this dark toro burns and draws evenly, showing a thick, spicy smoke that loads the palate with sweeter notes of maple syrup, hickory and molasses atop an underlying earthy core of coffee bean. The zingy finish is bright with cedar.
We picked the Macanudo in an attempt to match flavors, specifically maple and spice. Sometimes this is an ill-advised notion, but we were not disappointed. Together, the cigar and whiskey melded into an imitation of maple-sugar candy. Then the spices played out in tandem, with mouth-tingling licorice. Both showed pronounced leather and hickory, and the bonus was that the Jack Daniel’s became earthier and full of tobacco.