“The Hard Stuff”: Jack Daniel’s Green Label

Over the last week or so, I’ve been fighting some underperforming servers for my various sites. Scotch & Ice Cream was unfortunately one of the slower-performing sites of the batch. This led to the unfortunate conclusion that a move off the old server was inevitable.

Server moves are my absolute least favorite thing in the world. They’re not difficult, but there’s a ton of t’s to cross, i’s to dot (don’t forget the lowercase j gotcha cases as well), and the inevitable differences that spring up between environments requiring some additional manual tweaks.

Early signs are that things are running better (for now), so hopefully this is the last I write about it while I screw around with fine-tuning performance. However, this is as I noted, my least favorite thing to do in the world, and I recalled some of those startup evenings where people would realize a ton of work lay ahead of them and they would say they needed a drink. “Beer?” would be the inevitable response.

“No,” would come the reply, “it’s time to break out the hard stuff.”

For some reason, Jack Daniel’s has been one of those whiskeys that is synonymous with “the hard stuff” – likely a byproduct of their marketing. It’s a bit ironic; Jack is now bottled at a sad 40% ABV and doesn’t have as much to justify its image as the Hell’s Angel of American whiskey.

Hell's Angel or Heck's Cherub?

But that’s neither here nor there. This seems like a good opportunity over the next few days to review some of the expressions of Jack Daniel’s. Today we’re starting out with the Green Label offering. The Jack Daniel’s site says Green label is “a lighter, less mature whiskey with a lighter color and character.” The barrels are from a portion of the warehouse that is more central and thus, we must assume, more temperature stable – they say the whiskey matures slower here.

The nose on Green Label is pretty light and straightforward – it’s got some lightly woody notes and some corn sweetness. At the edges of it, there are toffee and molasses notes. The molasses is pretty light. On the palate, it’s initially light but develops a bit more body. It’s a pretty sweet whiskey but not syrupy or stuck in caramel hell – just a good, clean sweet corn flavor. Honestly, it reminds me of sweet corn from the late summer more than any other whiskey I’ve had. The toffee and molasses are present; there’s a slightly sour and slightly earthy funk on the palate that gives it a bit of dimension. It finishes quickly with wood, more sweetness and a touch of the earthy molasses note.

Truthfully, the earthiness on this makes it stand out from a host of inexpensive bourbons. I keep coming back to molasses because it has that rich, almost savory character but there’s a bit of a vegetal kick to it. It also has moments where it’s not dissimilar to Marmite. However, this is a counterpoint and not a main stage note, so it’s at the edges. It definitely adds a degree of dimension to this inexpensive whiskey. It’s got a mark of younger wood and younger whiskey, no question about it, but it’s not bad at all. This would be a totally fine mixer, it’s inoffensive on its own and that’s not bad at all. There’s nothing here that makes this a must-try, but I wouldn’t send this back or opt for beer if it was all that was available (which I can’t say of Rebel Yell).

At a glance:

Jack Daniel’s Green Label, 40% ABV
Lightly woody, with some corn sweetness. Some toffee and a faint note of molasses. 
Light on the palate, initially sweet with some wood to it. It again has that toffee and molasses note to it but there’s a slightly sour and earthy undertone to it. 
Very fleeting. Sweetness, wood, and a bit of molasses. 
The earthiness in conjunction with the wood makes this stand out from the crowd of inexpensive whiskeys. It’s young wood and a young whiskey – make no mistake – but it’s not bad at all. It’d be great to mix, it’s inoffensive on its own, and that’s not bad. It doesn’t have anything to vault it into the “worth trying” arena for me, but it’s not something to avoid (like Rebel Yell). 

6 thoughts on ““The Hard Stuff”: Jack Daniel’s Green Label”

  1. I’ve had my fair share of black label, but never tried this one.  How does it compare?  It’s only like $2 cheaper, so if it’s at all worse I can’t imagine why you’d ever buy it.  Is it really different?

    1. Well, there are three more expressions. The optimist in me wants to believe one of them will be decent. I have made a point recently of revisiting some of my favorites from when I was younger… I’ve found some to be awful, and some have been really pleasant surprises. I’d never had Green Label so that’s not an apples to apples comparison. The upcoming Black Label will be the most telling. SB and Gentleman will be new to me.

  2. Tim, I agree with your description of JD Green — the earthiness, the vegetal kick, the young wood — well done!  In my book this makes it quite interesting, and a B-, maybe B with a reach.  Definitely worth trying!

    I am curious what you’ll find in the other JD’s, but $5 says that you won’t like them as much as the green.


    1. It was an interesting one for sure. Surprisingly, JD #7 was the exact opposite. All the top notes, nothing to ground it. I feel like if you vatted them in a reasonable proportion you’d end up with a pretty decent whiskey. 

      Still interested for the Jacks to come, that’s for sure…

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