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An Evening With My Friend Jack Daniels and Guests
Jack Daniels recently held a summit at the MGM Grand in Las Vegas to introduce their new Tennessee Honey Liqueur. Here's a report and a tasting.
The Jack Daniel Distillery is the oldest licensed distillery in the United States, dating back to 1866. Now owned by Brown-Forman (sales through 3rd quarter 2010: 2.5 billion), who also owns brands such as Chambord, Finlandia, Fetzer Wines, Herradura, and Southern Comfort, the J.D. brand now includes ready-to-drink cocktails, barbecue sauce, a massive amount of licensed product, along with a number of Jack Daniels whiskey varieties.
We were gathered at the MGM to sample the latest offering from Mr. Daniels, Jack Daniels Tennessee Honey. Billed as a honey liqueur, the bottle is the same shape as No. 7 (black label) and features a white label with a stylized honey bee. Honey and No. 9 are in every bottle. Tennessee Honey is an entry into the flavored liqueur market already entered by competitors Jim Beam (Red Stag) and Wild Turkey (American Honey). This market entry is a difficult one for any whiskey brand, based perhaps on feminization of the brand, as well as a move away from the specialized and more matured market entries of the last few decades such as Gentleman Jack and Single Barrel. The beverages are entry level, sweet, and feature little heat despite the high alcohol content (70 proof for JD, 80 proof for Red Stag and 71 proof for American Honey). In other words an excellent item for rocks, shooters and, especially, for making Sweet Tea. Southern hospitality without Sweet Tea is like Christmas without Santa Claus, incidentally.
Jack Daniels pulled out all of the stops with their Southern hospitality. The first day of the event we met at the MGM Skylofts. The suite was unbelievable, with an incredible view and beautiful furnishings. At 10K a night, these suites surpass any resort expectations and feature Bulthaup kitchens and bathrooms complete with sauna. Meeting us was second generation Jack Daniels Master Taster Jeff Norman, who guided us through the Jack Daniels brands.
Jack Daniels, located in Lynchburg, Tennessee, is a huge operation. Sitting on an estimated 1.8 million barrels stacked 5 or 6 high, the distillery provides the world (133 countries and counting) with their premium labels, including No. 7 (80 proof, black label), Gentleman Jack (80 proof), Single Barrel (94 proof), Silver Select ( 100 proof, Single Barrel, Export Market only) and Green Label (80 proof, a less mature variant of No. 7). With an average age time of 6.5-7.5 years, assume about a 14% turnover yearly. With 250-300 bottles from each barrel, you do the math. Hint: there are a lot of bottles being produced for thirsty J.D. drinkers worldwide.
Jack Daniels uses nomenclature such as ‘maturation’
There is also a clear difference between the labels. No. 7 has lots of oak and heat, and has the Jack flavor we have all come to know. Gentleman Jack has been ‘mellowed’
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