JD?

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JD?

Unread postby BourbonBalls » Wed Jun 08, 2005 9:35 pm

Does anyone know the specs on Jack Daniels? I'm trying my best to convert some JD fans, and I'd like to give them the real facts regarding age, color additives (if any), re-use of barrels etc. I understand the charcoal that disqualifies it at bourbon, but I wanted to know all the things that are counter to Bourbon.

This may have come up before in the forum but I am relatively new...

Thanks for any info....
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Unread postby sevenmag » Wed Jun 08, 2005 9:49 pm

The rest of these guys will know tons more than me but for the sake of participation I'll jump in and give it a go.

As far as I know, the only reason it's not called bourbon is because of the Lincoln County Process (filtering through maple charcoal). Technically, since it's not an artificial thing they could call it bourbon but they don't. At least that's what I've been led to believe.

I also don't know of anything but new, chared barrels being used at JD and I believe it stays in them for 6 years.
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Unread postby TNbourbon » Wed Jun 08, 2005 11:01 pm

It is, indeed, arguable -- I've read and heard the well- and properly-esteemed Chuck Cowdery make the argument -- that Jack Daniel's could be called bourbon if it were to anybody's advantage to make it so. But neither the Lynchburg distillers nor the Kentucky distillers want it so, so it isn't -- and thus JD has only much-smaller George Dickel to contend with as a Tennessee Whiskey.
The standard Jack probably is between 4-6 years old, is aged only in new oak barrels and is leached through 10-12 feet of maple charcoal after distillation but before bottling. That filtration is the only thing that differentiates it from bourbon.
The Gentleman Jack bottling also is maple-filtered again at unbarreling, and the Jack Daniel's Single Barrel is, well, from a single barrel.
Since they are such close kin, not really much reason for a JD fan not to enjoy bourbon -- especially since JD ain't cheap for young whiskey.
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Unread postby BourbonBalls » Thu Jun 09, 2005 10:04 am

Thanks for the info guys....

On the barreling, I heard once that JD re-uses its barrels instead of new-oak.

That makes sense because new barrels are a big cost to the process. Since, by law, its not mandatory to use them because its not called bourbon anyway...

I understand Early Times is only called whiskey, not bourbon, because of the re-use of its barrels. I tend to think the barrels are used as well, because if they were new-oak that stuff might taste better!

However, I know you guys know...and I thank you for your experienced info. Thats why I'm here at the forum!
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Unread postby TNbourbon » Thu Jun 09, 2005 12:23 pm

Michael Hack wrote:...I understand Early Times is only called whiskey, not bourbon, because of the re-use of its barrels. I tend to think the barrels are used as well, because if they were new-oak that stuff might taste better!...


Brown-Forman, indeed, markets Early Times as a bourbon internationally, and did so domestically until about a dozen years ago. Today's "Kentucky Whiskey", as I understand it, still is made from 80% of what is legitimately bourbon, blended with 20% would-be bourbon except that they age it in used cooperage. Why they do that, I can't figure out. Like you, I find today's Early Times akin to kerosene in flavor (granted, the nose is somewhat better than kerosene).
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Re: JD?

Unread postby angelshare » Fri Jun 10, 2005 12:29 pm

Michael Hack wrote:I'm trying my best to convert some JD fans, and I'd like to give them the real facts regarding age, color additives (if any), re-use of barrels etc. I understand the charcoal that disqualifies it at bourbon, but I wanted to know all the things that are counter to Bourbon.


Our question is, what do you mean by "conversion?" If your intent is to educate and expand the palate of your friends, knowing that JD and bourbon are closely related, that's great. We think you could safely say that if your friends enjoy JD neat or on the rocks, you can probably assume that a) they'll be open to experiment and b) they'll find a bourbon that will open their eyes and "wow" them. If they are largely mixing it with something like soda, we're not sure the certainty is as great, but it is still possible.

Our advice is to pick up some cheaper but quality bourbon - 1783, AAA, one of the Wellers, Old Fitz BIB are choices that come to our minds - and let the whiskey do the talking with JD in the room. In the end how it's made will take second place to how it tastes anyway. BUT, you can use the examples to highlight the differences.

As for flavor difference origin, Mike Veach as we recall pointed out that JD has (or at least at one time had) the highest fusel oil content of any American whiskey. Certainly this is a distinction of some sort, although we're not sure that it's good or bad - just distinctive.

Here is our minority dissenting view (at least, in this forum) - we like Jack, and we're not sure that anyone can "convert" our taste buds. Over the years, we have come to appreciate bourbon more than JD, but JD still has a permanent place in our whiskey room. We think that much like bourbon vs. rye (and I - Dave - would personally argue that in FLAVOR TO ME, rye is closer to bourbon than JD is) or bourbon vs. scotch, bourbon vs. JD is a bit of an apple/orange comparison. We find that when we want JD, bourbon is not an equal substitute; it's a different "want." That said, if we asked for JD but all you had was Stagg, we'd make do! :lol:

Perhaps you can help your friends appreciate the variety of offerings out there - get the JD blinders off so they can see the full view. That's a laudable goal on your part.

Good luck with your experiment and keep us posted! :cheers:
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Unread postby BourbonBalls » Fri Jun 10, 2005 1:15 pm

Thanks so much for the excellent thoughts Dave & Tina.....

By "conversion" I meant just as you described...opening up their tastebuds and minds to other things.

I wasn't putting down JD, but rather I have friends that think JD is a bourbon and I just wanted the JD specs to give them the diffences in production they asked me about. As one of them said "well, how come JD ISN'T a bourbon?" I didnt really have an answer! I just wanted my facts straight.

I also wanted to support the bourbon industry with the right info to those that want to explore beyond the best selling whiskey, JD.

I guess I was thinking about myself years ago when I was a "convert" from Jack Daniels to (IMHO), the more flavorful bourbons. At that time I, like many others, thought that there was only one kind of whiskey.

I happily know now that there isn't.

Thanks again for your suggestions on the other brands etc that I can introduce them to. I dont even think they are aware of Makers Mark!

What do you think of MM as another inclusion in the first-time bourbon list?
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Unread postby TNbourbon » Fri Jun 10, 2005 1:41 pm

Just an add-on thought: You might also include George Dickel, which is the only other "Tennessee Whiskey" and thus the only direct comparison to Jack Daniel's -- and, to me, for what it's worth, preferrable to Jack, at least neat (especially the white-label #12). Dickel's maple filtration is done in a chilled room through much more granulated charcoal.
Maker's Mark, I think, would be a good 'first step' in a progression from JD to bourbon -- it's in the same general age group, it has a very approachable front end, as a 'wheater' is sweet like Jack, and has very little finish, which would be notably different in the later rye-flavored bourbons. Older, spicier bourbons might kill any later enjoyment of MM.
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Unread postby BourbonBalls » Fri Jun 10, 2005 1:48 pm

Maker's Mark, I think, would be a good 'first step' in a progression from JD to bourbon -- it's in the same general age group,


So...what ARE the ages of both MM and JD?[/quote]
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Unread postby gillmang » Fri Jun 10, 2005 1:54 pm

The Jack Daniels website states that Jack Daniels is aged in new charred barrels.

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Unread postby TNbourbon » Fri Jun 10, 2005 1:55 pm

Neither has a stated age, but it is generally known that Jack Daniel's is unbarreled at about 4 years old, and Maker's Mark around 6. In both cases, the distilleries are trying to match a taste profile which generally match barrels of those ages, but may include in a batch some older and younger ones.
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Unread postby angelshare » Fri Jun 10, 2005 2:24 pm

Michael Hack wrote:I guess I was thinking about myself years ago when I was a "convert" from Jack Daniels to (IMHO), the more flavorful bourbons. At that time I, like many others, thought that there was only one kind of whiskey.

I happily know now that there isn't.


Sounds like we were the same kind of "converts!" We drank JD, did a few scotch experiments, then moved onto bourbon and were floored by the quality and affordability of so many offerings.

Thanks again for your suggestions on the other brands etc that I can introduce them to. I dont even think they are aware of Makers Mark!

What do you think of MM as another inclusion in the first-time bourbon list?


Nothing wrong with it at all, but if they're TRULY not aware of it, you lose the psychological advantage of trying something that seems "familiar" and has the "argumentum ad populum" (Do I have that right? The "bandwagon fallacy?" IE, if they have the perception that MM is widely enjoyed and popular, it's more likely to be good. Works for JD after all! :lol: ) If the bias is not present and the playing field is level, our personal taste is that Old Fitz BIB and the Wellers are cheaper, better wheaters to try.

Tim raises a good point about GD #12, too.
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Unread postby gillmang » Fri Jun 10, 2005 4:42 pm

I've been thinking about JD lately because Tennessee whiskey is (more than once) described in 1800's accounts in Gerald Carson's, The Social History of Bourbon as that "yellow" drink. I always wondered about that because Jack Daniel Old No. 7 is not yellow-colored and never was, it was famed for its red color even in the 1800's. Tim brought some early Dickel whiskey to the last Gazebo which was precisely yellow in color. I have seen pictures of Lem Motlow whiskey which was the same color (this was a price brand in the Jack line-up some years ago and is no longer available). I believe that originally, Tennessee whiskey was more akin to modern corn whiskey than bourbon or even Jack Daniel's. Because, the color of Mellow Corn is the same yellow as that young Tennessee I am referring to (no bourbon really looks like that, it is always darker). Except, the young Tennessee corn was aged for a while - but generally not in new charred wood - and most important , it was subjected to filtration through ground maple charcoal before bottling. So in other words the traditional corn whiskey taste was modified by that filtration and then the whiskey was aged maybe for a while but not too long, it was sold as is pretty much, originally (we know this from M'Harry who counsels the maple charcoal treatment). Later the whiskey got some additional months in any kind of cask (which often meant an old one).

Okay. Then smart Jack Daniel says, I'll go a step further and age it only in new charred barrels for as long as a good bourbon is aged (say 4-6 years). So his liquor was a special kind, more expensive than the "yellow" whiskey that was the stock in trade of the Tennesseans and now has died out. The last vestiges of it were that Dickel corn from the 1950's or 60's and that old Lem Motlow whiskey. I tried that Dickel corn-type whiskey and I liked it, better in fact than the Mellow Corn of HH. That yellow whiskey was basically moonshine processed to be a more palatable drink - the Chevy say of whiskeys in its time. Jack Daniel (probably taking inspiration from Kentucky) created a Cadillac Tennessee whiskey and George Dickel became the same thing, a Kentucky clone except for the charcoal leaching before bottling, they held on to that, I think mostly so they could still market the whiskey as a distinctive Tennessee type. That old yaller whiskey though, sold young and leached well through a stack of burned maplewood, was the original Tennessee style, I think.

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Unread postby cowdery » Tue Jun 14, 2005 7:07 pm

The best argument against Jack Daniel's is that it is overpriced for what it is which is, basically, a young bourbon.

However, don't believe the rumors about used barrels and all the rest. Jack Daniel's is made exactly like a bourbon except it also goes through the charcoal leaching process. I mean exactly. No used barrels, no coloring, no flavoring, etc.

The main argument against JD is that it commands a premium price but there is nothing premium about the product.
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Unread postby gillmang » Wed Jun 15, 2005 3:47 am

I wonder if Jack Daniel's was better 30 and 50 years ago. I have never had the chance to sample from a bottle of that time. Still, the availability of the Single Barrel, with its undeniably good quality, leads me to think Jack Daniels was probably never better than that version. And even at its most "ordinary" it is still 4-5 years old and made pretty much like a bourbon. 100 years ago a product like that was a high quality product and clearly superior to the light yellow corn-type whiskey which apparently constituted much of the Tennessee production (the "yellow whiskey" mentioned by Carson and which essentially in my view can be had today in the form of Mellow Corn except that Mellow Corn is not filtered through maple charcoal before barreling). The early 1950's Dickel I had at the last Gazebo was much like that Corn except a tad smoother. That Dickel was (I think) a younger version of what became the regular Dickel, I think the company sold it to gain some revenue until it could be fully aged (because the distillery had started up in the 1950's, the modern incarnation of Dickel/Cascade that is). Today, especially at its standard 80 proof, Jack can be viewed as overpriced, yes. The Single Barrel seems costly, too, for 94 proof whiskey. But in the 1800's, when all Jack was like the Single Barrel, I think it set the gold standard for Tennessee whiskey.

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