In the summertime I find myself drinking more fruit based cocktails with rum as the base liquor. Now that the fall is quickly approaching (45 degrees in NJ this morning) I want to find myself drinking the darker varieties of rum and other brown spirits. Spiced Rum works very well in cocktails because of the warming elements of the ingredients. There is nothing I like better than a steaming cup of coffee laced with dark, spiced rum. Is it morning? Nothing wrong with a little morning drink to ease the stress of a weekend?
Fast forward to the weekend.
Yesterday because of the kindness of the Brown-Forman Distilling Company and Jack Daniel's ebullient public relations director Andrea Duvall, I received a large, heavy box. Upon opening, I discovered the entire line of Jack Daniels liquors. From their signature- Tennessee Sipping Whiskey to their newest offering the Tennessee Honey-there was also a bottle of Gentleman Jack and one of their Single Barrel Select.
Traditionally, I have not been a Tennessee Whiskey drinker. I prefer the less smoky, studied approach of Bourbon. However with four 750 ml bottles sitting in front of me I thought a tasting should be in order.
It's been decades since I tasted Tennessee liquor. Chalk that up to a very bad drinking experience in college- and just to keep things honest- around that time I also had a bad experience with gin. Now I can say that I love the aromatics of gin. Would it be the same with Tennessee Sipping Whiskey?
Tasting Notes for the Jack Daniels line of Tennessee Sipping Whiskey:
1. Original Sour Mash
Dark caramelized fruits give way to smoke and fire. Exactly as I remember it the first time it passed over my lips. Delicious and hot in the glass. I now understand, all these years later why Jack Daniel's in a cut crystal glass is so savory. I'd forgotten why Jack Daniel's is so popular. After a few quick slurps of the Original- I knew immediately why I liked it decades ago.
2. Jack Daniel's Single Barrel Select
Charming in a way not yet discovered by my palate. Reminds me in many ways of Single Malt Scotch. Not at all for the meek. The Single Barrel is more akin to a Single Malt Scotch. Think roasted hazelnuts and pecans woven with butter, smoke and char. Excellent, modern flavors. Now I know. The Single Barrel Select weighs in at 94 Proof! Ultra sophisticated bottle- I want to put just a sprig of spearmint in the glass after slapping it. What's "Slapped Mint"? Take a piece of mint, wash it well, put it in your hand, slap your other hand against it. Use the Slapped Mint to enhance your drink!
3. Gentleman Jack- Rare Tennessee Whiskey
Weighing in at 80 Proof, the Gentleman product is every bit as delicious as corn roasted over natural wood charcoal- the barrel is important too- flavors of sea smoke, salt water and charred beef make for a chewy slurp that might surprise even the most die-hard Scotch drinker. This is extremely sophisticated stuff. Worthy of the finest crystal glass that belonged to your favorite great uncle. Now I know why the casks that are used for Gentleman Jack end up in Scotland- They use them to age Scotch Whisky! I've heard that there is a shortage of good oak barrels for making rum- now I know why.
4. Tennessee Honey
No weakling at 70 Proof, the Tennessee Honey reminds me of Swiss Herbal preparations that combine dark honey and mountain herbal medicinals in with the brooding fire of the distilled spirits. I would say that the Honey is laced with the gossamer strands of pure heat from the Whiskey. In this case the Whiskey is Jack Daniel's Tenneessee Sippin' Whiskey. The char in the back of the throat never lets you forget that the beginning of this liquor may be sweet, but the finish is anything but sweet, it is pure maple syrup that has just come from a tree charred in a fire. Sure it has a finish that goes on and on- mostly this afterburn is from the alcohol and the deeper charred elements from the fire burned casks.
What is the difference between Tennessee Sippin' Whiskey and Bourbon? Good question. I won't tell you.
Tennessee Honey Fizzabub Cocktail
2 Shots Jack Daniel's Tennessee Honey
1 Shot Kōloa Spiced Rum from Hawaii (trust me on this, spiced rum is delicious with the Tennessee Honey Whiskey)
3 drops from a medicine dropper Bitter End Memphis Barbeque Bitters
1 gigantic cube of the best ice you can buy- in this case from Gläce.
In a cocktail shaker add the Tennessee Honey and the Spiced Rum, add three drops of the Memphis Barbeque Bitters (Essential!) Add some ice. Shake until the mixture is well combined and frost appears on the outside of the shaker.
Strain into a short "Rocks" glass that you have added a large cube of the luxury ice.
Photo taken with the venerable Leica M8 Digital Camera with the Summicron F2 50mm lens.