By Father John Rayls
Most whiskey consumers know that the entire whiskey market is “blowing up.” In America, we see this in the bourbons and ryes in particular. The down side is that some of our favorites are a little harder to come by while the prices continue to climb aggressively. The up side is that new whiskey distilleries are popping up everywhere and some older firms are being driven to create some really interesting experimentation and some entirely new expressions. Jack Daniel’s, in its 150th year, is a perfect example of one of those older forms. Master Distiller at Jack Daniel’s, Jeff Arnett, has the distillery pushing the limits for their formerly staid approach to brand and whiskey issues. The Jack Daniel’s Single Barrel Rye is their third rye in the last four years and is a solid member of their excellent Single Barrel Collection. According to their web site: “We hold ourselves to the highest standards when making the Jack Daniel’s Single Barrel Collection. We use only barrels from the uppermost reaches of our barrelhouses, where dramatic temperature changes cause the color and taste to reach their most intense. A mere one out of every 100 of these barrels gets to bear the Single Barrel name. Being this particular makes our job harder. But we do what we must to live up to Jack’s motto: ‘Every day we make it, we’ll make it the best we can.'” This rye comes from a new recipe comprised of a 70 percent rye, 18 percent corn and 12 percent malted barley grain bill.
The bottle for the Single Barrel Rye is a beautiful expression of its contents and would be suitable for display on any shelf. This particular bottle is from barrel number 15-7427, rick number L-1 and was bottled on December 10, 2015 at 94 proof. The rye is light to medium brown with copper highlights and has a nice viscosity in the glass. As a result, the legs are medium to long and are inviting.
The nose is faint and you have to aggressively pursue it to identify it. You will find some sweet cereal, very light oak and some faint spice. I would have given this whiskey an A- rating, but the nose was almost non-existent. I spent the majority of my time with this rye repeatedly trying to find the aromas and label them.
Fortunately, the flavors are fabulous. Arnett has created another excellent tasting Tennessee Whiskey which again makes me eat all of my nasty words spoken against Jack Daniel’s whiskey in the past. This is a very enjoyable smooth rye whiskey. It is very smooth even at 94 proof. It provides a nice light coating of the mouth giving a terrific mouth feel. The rye spiciness obviously drives the flavor profile, but it’s less cinnamon and more of a peppery experience. There is also a very light oak presence with some faint fresh fruit overtones. The distillery believes that rye is more about the grain than the oak. This is a sweet rye flavor that leads into a long and very spicey finish.
This iteration of a Jack Daniel’s rye is definitely worth your hard earned cash. As always, I would suggest starting neat as you can always add a splash of water or some ice cubes later. Since its initial offering in February of 2016, Jack Daniel’s Single Barrel Rye has become surprisingly popular. The suggested retail is 49.99 and is being retailed very close to this price point.