Monday, January 20, 2014

Tennessee Spirits: Winter Jack

Approx. $18 for a 750mL bottle

I can honestly say it’s been far, far too long since the last installment of “Tennessee Spirits” here on the Tiki Bar. I’m proud of my home-state and love to highlight the different distilled spirits made here (or at least associated with the state), but time and money...those two old hounds...have kept me from pursuing this series as frequently as I would like. The recent holidays brought a chance to try something new, though, and it did just happen to originate from right down the road (“right down the road” in this case being a 2 hour drive, mostly on interstate highways, at an average speed somewhere just north of the speed limit).

Jack Daniel’s Tennessee Whiskey happens to have the distinction of being the best-selling whiskey in the world. Why? I wish I could say it was because it’s “the best,” but pretty much any serious whiskey connoisseur would laugh me out of the room for saying so. It’s the biggest because it’s very good for the price of admission, and because it is distributed and marketed around the world very effectively. There are a few whiskeys and bourbons within a buck or two a bottle that I prefer to JD, but mostly if you want something better, you’re going to need to be willing to pay 25 to 50% more. 

All that to say, I really don’t drink a lot of Jack. Every now and then, though, they present something new and different that must pass these lips. This year it’s “Winter Jack.” I can’t explain it better than the company’s website does:

Jack Daniel’s Winter Jack is a seasonal blend of apple cider liqueur, Jack Daniel’s Old No. 7 Tennessee Whiskey and holiday spices. It is based on an original family recipe from Jack’s home in Lynchburg, Tennessee. When it’s cold outside and snow is falling, our heartwarming Tennessee Cider should be enjoyed with friends and family.

Winter Jack is best served warm. Once heated, it has an inviting aroma of warm apple cider, orange peel, cinnamon, clove and Jack Daniel’s Tennessee Whiskey. The taste is reminiscent of apple pie complemented with Tennessee Whiskey and seasonal spices, with a finish of toasted oak and vanilla.

Available in October for a limited time in the following locations: AK, CO, CT, DE, GA, ID, IL, IN, KY, ME, MD, MA, MI, MN, MT, NV, NH, NJ, NY, ND, OH, OR, PA, RI, SD, TN, TX, UT, VT, WA, WI & Canada

The store I bought this bottle in had it stored in the cooler, but since the bottle suggested the best way to serve it is warm, I microwaved a cup for about 45 seconds (starting at room temperature) and tested it that way first. (Be careful not to heat this too long; water boils at 212º, but alcohol boils off at 173º if you heat it too much, you might as well just be drinking regular apple cigar.)

From the first sip, the Winter Jack provided a warm sweetness that paired quite well with the Gramercy Gravitas. The apple cider flavor did pretty much overwhelm the flavor of the Tennessee Whiskey, but it complemented the cigar bringing out more sweetness in it.

I’ve also had the Winter Jack at room temperature. While the cider flavor is still very strong at that point, I would say the whiskey notes of oak and vanilla come through just a little better at that temperature.

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