Alright Already: Redbreast 12 Year Cask Strength

Seems like there was a law that all whiskey bloggers have to cover this one. The licensing bureau just sent me my notice that if I didn’t, my blog license would be revoked. I’d hate for that to happen, so without further ado..

Redbreast 12 Year Old Cask Strength (Batch B1/11) 57.7% ABV
Nose:  A slightly thin nose that is also a little doughy – sugar cookies. Lightly piney, white pepper and pears are the leaders on the nose. Honey is a base for everything. A touch of cinnamon against the sweetness. Water actually brings up some oily and slight tarry notes and gives it a faintly floral top end.
Palate:  Rich and oily, faintly sour and with an extremely faintly tarry note. Honey and white pepper with a tiny dab of chili oil to heat things up. Some maltiness and some grain at the base of this. Again, water opens up a floral dimension, but really blows away the interest and complexity.
Finish: Warm initially, with that oiliness and some of the pine notes leading. Some wood shows up as it starts to last and it dries slightly. Long, lingering and warm finish.
Comment:  It’s Redbreast! It’s got that oily palate that’s familiar from prior tastings. It’s better than most Irish whiskies and worth a try. Unfortunately that doesn’t really bump it up into must-have territory.
Rating: B-

Yes, it’s better than the average Irish whiskey. Unfortunately that’s not saying a lot. If you can’t get Trader Joe’s Single Malt, which I think is a genuinely interesting mix of Irish peat and familiar Irish sweetness, this is probably the next best thing. If Irish whiskies are to your liking, huzzah! You’ve hit the peak and it’s reasonably priced. Sadly, they just don’t do a lot for me, so I have to hunt down cask strength bottles of Scotch whisky bottled in idiotic toy boats.

Still waiting for the Irish whiskey that will flip my lid.

Glenfiddich Age of Discovery

At long last, it’s finally time to get a little Scotch whisky coverage again.

Glenfiddich’s Age of Discovery is a new expression – 19 years old and finished in Madeira casks – that was previously a travel retail exclusive. My bottle was, in fact, picked up by a friend coming home from London at my request. This was before the expression went to a broader release. If you find the broadly available version differs substantially, then I’ll just play dumb and say “I had it before it went sold out and went mainstream.”

Age of Discovery is the third whisky from Glenfiddich in recent memory that is marketed under a name (Snow Phoenix, Cask of Dreams) versus a more traditional age statement. This is a broader industry trend designed to allow selling whisky without an age statement. For the uninitiated, all Scotch whisky must be aged a minimum of three years to be called “Scotch whisky”. So if it’s sold as whisky and it’s from Scotland, it’s a minimum of three years old. Any age statement – 10 years, 12 years, 15 years, etc – must refer to the youngest whisky in the bottle. If a distillery releases a bottle that’s a mix of 7, 9, 13 and 4 year whiskies, they could either sell it as a four year old whisky or give it a clever name with a tortured backstory and skirt the age altogether. For obvious reasons, the story is preferable to the young age statement.

Some people predictably find this practice to be one of the most unimaginable horrors that could ever happen. Others are blissfully ignorant of this nuance of whisky legalese. (I apologize if I’ve exposed you to far more than you’ve cared to know at this point). I personally find myself in the middle ground: Interested in the ones that genuinely work, if tired of searching for my Gaelic pronunciation guide or pondering the likelihood that I will ever utter to a store clerk, “Yes – I would like to buy the Rundlets & Kilderkins.”

That’s all marginally relevant – Age of Discovery is stated at 19 years, so it’s merely using the lofty name as a sales tool. What’s the Age of Discovery refer to? According to Glenfiddich, “Inspired by the explorers of old, whose discoveries revolutionised our understanding of the world, Glenfiddich Age of Discovery is a rich and delicious 19 year old single malt matured in oak casks previously used to age fine Madeira wine.” Apparently discovering new landmasses is roughly on par with realizing you can finish a whiskey in a wine barrel. Vasco da Gama really went to a lot of unnecessary trouble then. I wonder if the Age of Discovery refers to present day whisky marketing where producers have discovered that a silly name with a thin thread of logical connection to the whisky contained inside, marketed as a limited edition, will sell like crazy.

Alright, enough cynicism. Despite my endless enthusiasm for making fun of the marketing, I actually do enjoy whisky. My track record with Glenfiddich is not the best, but a madeira finish was different enough to catch my attention.

The nose is inviting, with a good malty note upfront and a bit of the madeira richness hinted at. It’s sweet and has light honey. The usual Glenfiddich pear and apple notes are there but aren’t as prevalent as in other expressions.

As expected, the palate is initially sweet – malty initially and the fortified wine madeira presence is obvious shortly thereafter. The madeira settles down despite a strong initial showing. There are pears again; some white pepper and a little butterscotch.

The finish is malty but with some light wood notes. The heat is more like the tongue-focused heat of a Sichuan peppercorn, and the madeira adds some texture and makes the finish slightly chewy.

Age of Discovery isn’t bad. It’s not challenging in any particular way. It’s just nice, sweet and malty with a bit of added dimension in the form of the madeira finish and with a little less of the signature apple and pear notes. Sometimes that simplicity is all you want after a hard day’s work (or a month of reviewing mediocre whiskies).

At a glance:

Glenfiddich Age Of Discovery – 19y 40% ABV
Nose: 
Inviting malt, a bit of the madeira influence present on the nose. Sweet and lightly honeyed. Minimal traces of the usual Glenfiddich pear and apple notes, but they’re faintly present. 
Palate: 
Sweet initially on the palate; first with malty sweetness and then followed by the fortified wine notes. The madeira settles back down relatively quickly. Traces of pears; a little white pepper and a bit of butterscotch. 
Finish: 
Malt comes out on top here with some light wood notes, a small bit of sichuan peppercorn-like mouth heat, and the madeira notes adding a slight bit of texture and near-chewiness to it. 
Comment: 
A nice sweet, malty Glenfiddich with a bit of dimension to it.
Rating:
B

 

Connemara Peated Irish Whiskey

Connemara Peated Irish Whiskey 40% ABV
Nose:  
Light peat, a rubbing alcohol note, some vanilla sweetness, a little barley, some additional syrupy floral sweetness. Moderate malt.
Palate: 
Faint earthy peat, a gentle cinnamon warmth, thick, viscous mouthfeel, malty.
Finish: 
Warming but quickly fades, not much peat on the finish except at the edges of the maltiness. Faintly medicinal.
Comment: 
There’s just not much to this at all. It’s uninteresting. There’s nothing here that’d cause me to order this, but there’s nothing offensive either. It just is.
Rating:
C

Word is that Connemara’s peated whiskey has been improving somewhat since earlier batches. I’m not impressed with it yet. If anything it shows that peat requires some skill to integrate into a good whiskey.

It’s St. Patrick’s Day Soon, That Must Mean It’s Time For Irish Whiskies

Far be it for me to be clever and decide to review something else this week. Nope, Scotch & Ice Cream has had a gaping hole in its content in the form of Irish whiskies.

I’ll confess, I’m not normally a fan of Irish whiskies – I’ve had very few that do anything for me. Sure, Bushmills is OK; Midleton Very Rare isn’t bad either, but there’s never been anything that really makes me sit up and say “this is really for me!”

However, as a predictable slave to the calendar, I decided to visit a few that I had sitting around before St. Pat’s and see if there was anything worth recommending. Today’s choices are all low-cost, standard offerings that should be easily available (less one).

The Market Leader

I’ll admit: I’ve never had Jameson. I didn’t really know what to expect. My first guess was bland, syrupy sweetness — you can’t sell that much whiskey with a disagreeable taste!

The nose was thin and piney and had a bit of acetone initially. There was a little honey but it got overrun by the overwhelming Pine-Sol aromas. Hiding out behind the cleaning products was a little grass and grain. Not a good start. The palate was very thin, slightly bitter and sour. Light honey continued from the nose, but the pine and resin notes were really strong and overwhelmed everything. There was a bit of gentle heat. The finish was predictably short with some cinnamon and vanilla, but those grassy and piney notes continued.  There was a little graininess as well.

Unfortunately for me this one scores very low. The piney, resinous, cleaning product note just overwhelmed everything for me and fouled the taste. Combined with some bitter wood notes, it had me grimacing and wincing like a bad western. I didn’t find it any better with ice, with water, or in a hot toddy – they all focused it on the note I could not deal with. This may not be as bad to some (LAWS scores it higher than I do) but for me this is a near total non-starter.

The Old Familiar

Bushmills is an old but somewhat forgotten whiskey for me. It was a mainstay of hot toddys in college when sore throats kicked up. It was great in that role – but I wouldn’t rate my college-era palate as particularly discriminating. The question was how this would hold up to the memory.

The nose is expectedly watery, with some honey, a slight sour apple note and a fair amount of maltiness. The palate was light and watery; heat built with a touch of pepper. Some maltiness, a little honey and some general grain. This was offset slightly by a bit of sour apple flavors and a slight bit of wood bitterness. The finish was again quite fast with some gentle heat, honey and malt. There was a bit of earthy dry grain that dried out to bitter wood.

Overall, Bushmills is OK. It’s more watery than I remember. The sour note wasn’t objectionable like the stuff that killed Jameson for me, but this is a totally OK and safe choice if you want to be as predictable as me this weekend and have some Irish whiskey.

 Actual Ice Cream Content:
I’ve had ice cream made with Bushmills and honey and it’s a nice treat. The maltiness is perfect and it has a good if generic “whiskey” flavor. The honey does a lot to cut the sour notes I mentioned so this is a fun treat. You can find the recipe we used here and I’d say it’s worth it when things get warm. 

The Store Brand

I had received a sample of Trader Joe’s Single Malt Irish Whiskey from the Cooley distillery courtesy my friend Sku in a recent sample swap. This seemed like a reasonable point to try it. Now, a note – the Jameson and Bushmills standard offerings are blended whiskies consisting of malts and grains. The TJ’s is a single malt so there’s bound to be some difference. But how different?

The nose is light and malty with a hint of new leather, but not in the overbearing way some Islays can betray. Slightly lemony and grainy, but with a little dried fruit and floral top notes to balance it out. Already, much better. The whiskey had a nice medium body with strong malt notes and a bit of lemon as well as some biscuity flavors. It’s earthy and oily, but not in a way you’d expect out of an Islay. The finish had some heat – cinnamon and pepper with a touch of chili oil at the end. Malt dominates again but the biscuit notes are more assertive. There’s a little shiso and mint on the tail end of the finish.

I was really pleasantly surprised by this one. I expected being a store-label brand that it’d be a complete dog. Instead, I found something with good earthy, oily, industrial funkiness but well-balanced and tempered by the malty notes. It’s very approachable. It’s also impressive that a store would put their name on something that probably isn’t going to be for everyone. The word is the price on this is $20 and I think at that price it’s a no-brainer.

So, unfortunately I don’t think the best option is one you’ll find out in a bar. So go out, celebrate in whatever manner you find appropriate, and then swing by TJ’s on the way home to pick up some of their single malt. Of the inexpensive options I’ve looked at here, it’s by far the best.

At a glance:

Jameson 40% ABV
Nose: 
Thin and piney with a bit of acetone up front. A bit of honey but it’s overrun by the pine-sol vibe. A little grassy and grainy. 
Palate: 
Very thin on the palate; slightly bitter and sour. Lightly honeyed; the pine and resin notes are quite strong. Gentle heat throughout. 
Finish: 
Short finish, a bit of cinnamon and vanilla. The grassy and piney notes are still present; it’s lightly grainy. Relatively quick finish. 
Comment: 
The finish resolves to a reasonably OK sweetness, but that kind of harsh piney resinous note up front is hard to overcome. That note also takes a bit of woodiness and almost gets medicinal for me. Ice focuses the palate even tighter on the piney and resin notes. This one is not for me – too much wincing, grimacing and shuddering like I was drinking rotgut in a bad western. Even objectionable to me in a hot toddy.
Rating:
D+

Bushmills 40% ABV
Nose: 
Watery with a little honey, a slightly sour apple note, a fair amount of maltiness.
Palate: 
Light and watery in the mouth, heat slowly building with a touch of pepper. Some maltiness, a touch of honey, and a bit of general graininess. Slight apple sourness to it as well. A slight bit of wood bitterness.
Finish: 
Quite fast, with some gentle heat, a bit of honey and some maltiness. A little bit of slightly earthy dry grain. Dries out to slightly bitter wood.
Comment: 
It’s blandly OK. I think it’s a bit watery; the sour note isn’t bad but not altogether welcome. Still, you can do a lot worse. 
Rating:
C

Trader Joe’s Single Malt Irish Whiskey (Cooley) 40% ABV
Nose:  Light and malty with a hint of new leather (in a completely non-Islay way). Slightly lemony. A bit grainy with a very slight floral top note. A little dried fruit. 
Palate: 
Nice medium body. Malt heavy, lightly lemony, slightly biscuity. This is a bit earthy and oily as well (again, in a distinctly non-Islay fashion). 
Finish:  
A bit of alcohol heat – cinnamon and pepper with a touch of chili oil. Malt heavy, a little biscuity; some faint notes of shiso and mint. 
Comment: 
This is a really interesting whisky. It’s got some of that earthy, oily, industrial funkiness of my favorite Islays but it’s done in this restrained, approachable style. It’s set against a good, hearty maltiness and it just works. At the price it’s a no-brainer. 
Rating:
B

Jack Daniel’s Conclusion – Silver Select and Holiday 2011

The final stop on the Jack Daniel’s tour are two special editions: The duty-free exclusive Silver Select and the recent Holiday Select 2011 are all that remain. Both are 100 proof. Is this turning up the dial a bit and getting more of a good thing, or is it just additional noise? We’ll see.

The Silver Select has a mix of sweet corn and wood. There’s an unexpected slightly dry, almost white wine quality to the nose that has some white pepper to balance it. There are also some can’t-miss notes for me: a little cherry, some light vanilla, and an earthy wet clay type note. There’s also a hint of cinnamon.

The palate is initially woody and has some cherry above it, with a touch of toffee in the background. Heat on the palate comes out of nowhere and builds, as does the wood. The wood doesn’t become overbearing or bitter, just omnipresent. The wet clay note from the nose comes through as well. Cinnamon and pepper provide a little spice. The finish shows a reemergence of the corn sweetness from the nose; wood and cherry are right behind it and it dries quickly, leaving some light woody notes and a slight celery root note. Wood takes center stage again at the end.

All in all, Silver Select isn’t bad. I think given the breadth of travel-exclusive offerings it might not be my first choice, but as far as Jack Daniel’s goes, it’s not bad and dare I say it’s even a cut above the standard issue. This is based heavily on the cherry and clay notes I got which are regular winning notes for me on a bourbon.

This leaves one to wonder – is the Holiday Select just a domestic release of the same thing? In a word, no.

Initially you might be forgiven thinking they’re similar. Holiday Select has the familiar Jack Daniel’s sweet corn notes as well as black cherry and some richer than usual wood. There’s light toffee and some caramel. However, it all goes sideways – there’s a peanut note on the nose (actually more satay sauce than straight peanuts) that takes this to an unwelcome and unflatteringly salty place.

The palate is distinctly woody and not in a good way – it’s young and bitter wood. It’s dry and somewhat salty again, reminding me of that dehydrating potato chip or popcorn level of saltiness. The heat comes on quick and strong, overrunning the light toffee and caramel influence. Pepper and cinnamon come with the heat; light cherries and the faintest trace of vanilla are there. However, the palate is really dominated by that green, young wood note. The finish brings the peanut and salt note front and center – why? The finish retains the heat from the palate; black cherries show up early but give way to bitter wood. Toffee and caramel are present throughout but never take a prominent place.

Holiday Select is, in short, an unbalanced wreck. The peanut note is one I’ve only found on a handful of Brown-Forman whiskeys, but it’s always overpowering and doesn’t tend to have an effective balance. Add to that a really overbearing wood note and you’ve got a real strikeout on your hands. While this may be lingering on shelves I can’t recommend it.

After all that, I need a drink…

It’s been pretty clear from this run through the Jack offerings that I’m not a fan. Some may have thought I did this strictly for the joy of taking shots at the biggest whiskey in the universe and beyond. Not in the least. Don’t forget, I drank all these — and none of them scored in the D or F range. That’s where the fun writing comes in because you have to get into superlative badness.

It was a pretty interesting exercise to run through the entire range. This, for me, is somewhat like the Woodford Reserve Master’s Series (again, a series of entries for another time – and hopefully not too soon): there’s a lot of variations that are slightly different versions of mediocre. That sort of thing over a longer period becomes dull because there’s not a lot of good whiskeys and nothing you can really look forward to. That said, the two that are the most interesting to me still are #7 and Green Label – they feel like different sides of the same coin. I still feel like if you took these together and tried to get the Jekyll & Hyde combo to work you might end up with something workable. Who knows? It’ll never happen.

Single Barrel is by far the best of the range – at least the one I had. Silver Select isn’t too far behind but doesn’t quite fire on all cylinders like my Single Barrel did. Angelo Lucchesi is definitely closest to the Jack I remember earlier, introducing a bit of sourness that wasn’t present else but was close to my memory of Jack. Gentleman Jack and Holiday 2011 are best forgotten, in my opinion.

I can’t say I have a lot of lasting interest nor do I hold much hope for Jack doing something for bigger whiskey nerds like myself and some of my friends. That’s OK – Jack Daniel’s is bought by the rest of the universe, so the couple hundred bottles we’d buy are about as close to “a drop in the ocean” as you can get. It’s a totally drinkable, fine and reasonable whiskey. There’s just nothing in it (in its many forms, less Single Barrel) that really grabs me.

If anyone’s interested in a bullet-point list of the order I’d buy these, it’d look like this

  1. Single Barrel
  2. Silver Select
  3. Angelo Lucchesi
  4. (tie): Green Label & #7
  5. Holiday Select 2011
  6. Gentleman Jack (hopefully and ideally never again)

Now that this Jack run is blessedly over, S&I will be returning to its regularly scheduled unpredictability.

If anyone buys me a drink in the next month and it’s Jack, I will punch you. Fair warning.

At a glance:

Jack Daniel’s Silver Select 50% ABV
Nose: 
A mix of sweet corn and wood. Has a slightly dry, almost white wine quality to it with some white pepper. Some cherry notes and light vanilla. Lightly influenced by cinnamon. A wet clay note provides some earthy balance. 
Palate: 
Woody palate initially with some cherry sweetness above it, with a touch of toffee behind. Heat comes from nothing and slowly builds. Wood builds with the heat but it’s just a solid wood influence, not a painfully bitter one. Cinnamon and some light pepper. Has a slightly earthy, wet clay note tagging along as well. 
Finish: 
Corn sweetness, wood and cherry which dries relatively quickly and leaves some light wood traces, some root vegetable notes and a touch of wood again at the end.
Comment: 
An interesting profile that’s less overtly sweet than most Jack Daniels I’ve had. Similar to the Single Barrel in ways but a bit bitter in comparison. The earthy and cherry notes being in balance raise this up a notch for me. 
Rating:  
B-

Jack Daniel’s Holiday Select 2011 50% ABV
Nose: 
An interesting mix of sweet corn notes and richer wood and black cherry notes. There’s a slightly nutty note – peanuts (actually, more satay than straight peanuts). A bit salty as well. Light toffee. Caramel fairly present. 
Palate:
Distinctly woody – kind of young wood and bitter too. Dry and somewhat salty – reminds me of potato chips or popcorn. Builds heat quickly. Light toffee but more caramel. Some pepper and cinnamon. Light cherries and the faintest trace of vanilla ever. Mostly dominated by the wood note that is just kind of green and young.
Finish: 
Leads with the peanut note and then the saltiness. Still quite warm on the finish. Black cherries early. A bit of slightly dry and bitter wood. Toffee and caramel dance around through the finish but never take prominence. 
Comment: 
This is kind of a mess. I’ve encountered the peanut note on other BF whiskeys in the past and it hasn’t worked for me. The salty note goes hand in hand with it and it doesn’t have a solid counterbalance. The heat is out of balance and gets away from the whisky and it just doesn’t really pull together in any coherent way. 
Rating:
C-

Jack Daniel’s Bonus: Jack Like You Remember?

One of the bottles I found while preparing to do this vertical run through Jack Daniel’s line was a bottle of the Jack Daniel’s Angelo Lucchesi 90th Birthday bottling. Normally I steer clear of commemorative bottles as they tend to be more expensive and it’s either just a slightly different bottle or a slightly different label. As I looked at this bottle though, I did see one point that immediately caught my eye.

Wait a second... 90 proof?

Jack Daniel’s hasn’t been at 90 proof in ages. That means that the Angelo Lucchesi bottle is the easiest way to compare Jack as it is now versus the Jack of several years ago. There’s also the possibility of finding a dusty 90 proof Jack, but I’m terrible at finding dusties and I think any liquor store that hadn’t moved a bottle of Jack in over a decade is probably a closed liquor store. So here’s the opportunity.

The nose is a decent balance of sweet corn notes with moderate wood influence, and a little white pepper that adds some spice. Black cherry and some vegetal new-make sour notes stand fairly close together. Similarly there’s a bit of toffee sweetness that sits very close to a slightly charred note that is reminiscent of a barbecue.

On the palate, the sweetness of corn and toffee is cut slightly by the sourness of the new make notes. There’s some gradually building heat but it never overwhelms. It also has a slightly grainy presence and to my surprise, there’s a bit of the earthiness I recall from the Green Label tasting – but it’s quite faint. Later on, there’s a gentle waft of black cherries.

The finish is led by the black cherry notes, with toffee and light vanilla close behind. Sweet corn notes and vegetal corn husks follow and provide the body of the finish, with a little wood to round it out. It’s a reasonably lasting finish – certainly more than #7 – and slowly becomes bitter. The bitterness is more root vegetables than bad wood.

It’s an interesting trip and certainly reminds me more of the Jack I remember. I definitely remembered a bit more sourness in the mix several years back. It’s not out of control and wildly young like Jim Beam can taste to me, but it definitely doesn’t have an aged-out mellowness to it. I don’t think this is a slam-dunk improvement worthy of agitating for a return to higher proof, but it does add a bit of dimension that seemed to be lacking in #7. That said, it’s more of a curiosity than something worth hunting down.

For those who are wondering, there’s one more review coming in the next couple days and that will be the end of the Jack Daniel’s experiment. Back to other stuff!

At a glance:

Jack Daniel’s Angelo Lucchesi Edition 45% ABV
Nose:  A decent balance of sweet corn notes and moderate wood influence, with a little white pepper adding some spice. Faint notes of black cherry are fairly closely intermingled with hints of vegetal new-make sourness. Slight notes of toffee also are close with faintly charred notes that bring a barbecue to mind.
Palate:  The mix of sweetness from the corn and toffee notes has the slight sourness of new make to cut its intensity. There’s some slowly building heat to it. There’s a bit of grainy presence to it and even traces of the earthiness that I find in green label – but it’s quite faint. Later on black cherries waft around.
Finish:  Black cherries lead the way and toffee and vanilla are right behind. Sweet corn notes with vegetal corn husks continue behind it. There’s a bit of wood influence. The finish is reasonably lasting and becomes slightly bitter (more root vegetables than wood).
Comment:  This has a little more dimension than the standard #7 we have today, but it’s not such a slam dunk improvement that I’d say people should start agitating for the proof to be raised to 90 again by virtue of a vastly better product.
Rating: C+

Gentleman Jack

I’ve been going through the Jack Daniel’s lineup. If there was ever a day I would have gone for “the hard stuff” (to clumsily tie this back to the first of the four reviews), it would have been last night. My respect to anyone who can endure shooting schedules; this was my second shoot since I’ve moved to LA 8 years ago, and it was as unpleasant as my prior experience. How my friends who do that stuff for a living stay sane, I will never know. Hats off.

The last of the Jack line that had not been covered at this point is Gentleman Jack. Gentleman Jack is a little different from the other expressions – whereas the others we’ve looked at are filtered through charcoal right off the still, Gentleman Jack is filtered again after maturation.

Emphasis added because that, to me, is a sirens flashing point. If Matt Drudge reviewed whisky, you would see a crude animated police light next to an all-caps headline on that point.

WARNING: DOUBLE FILTERED

Barrel influence helps develop the flavor and does great things to the new make. New make spirit can be disagreeably sweet or have a strong, unpleasant burn. If you haven’t, you should try some white whiskey to get a sense for what an unaged whiskey is like (It’s not pleasant but there are a couple decent ones). Over several years, the wood brings in its own flavors – commonly the vanilla and toffee flavors you get on bourbons.

But filtering can get rid of that. Filtering will remove some of the “stuff” that helps round out the flavor. Sure, it may be “smoother” than the the barrel proof version and you might not have those icky scary bits of barrel char, but don’t be fooled: the good goes out with the bad – charcoal isn’t really a selective filter. Also, there’s still a difference between an older whisky and a young whisky that’s been filtered to death.

Finally, there’s just a matter of decency. This sort of multiple filtering reeks of the crap that the vodka producers go through to differentiate themselves – assuming they’re not making a cornish-pasty-and-neufchatel-cheese flavored vodka. Aside from that, the only other option of ways to make an OK product palatable is to distill the living crap out of it. (Suggestion: Dalmore MDCCCXXXIX – distilled 1839 times to commemorate the opening in 1839. Suggested price $1,839,000. 43% ABV, filtered + colored. NAS.)

So, back to Jack. Gentleman Jack is like regular Jack, except they take whatever good has happened (and my Single Barrel experience says good can happen), and make sure to run it through a filter. Great plan.

The nose is lightly woody, with some light toffee and a fair amount of corn. There’s a faintly piney note. On the palate, it’s watery – big surprise. There’s light wood, light caramel, slight pepper, faint cherry notes, slight alcohol heat and some gentle corn sweetness. The finish has some faint earthiness, a little kick of alcohol, some vanilla early, and a little bit of wood and sugar. And then it’s gone. The finish is seriously as there-and-gone as some of the lighter Irish whiskies I’ve had. This is not a good thing.

There’s a lot of “faint” and “light” in that description. Thank filtering for that one. This is really ho-hum to me – trying to stake out a classy and refined market segment and having absolutely no character at all. Milquetoast Jack was probably considered first but rejected because people expected it to taste like breakfast in a bottle.

No thanks.

This brings me to the end of the standard line of Jack Daniel’s offerings. However, I have a couple interesting ones that will get covered in the next few days as well. Thanks for checking out the standard range with me. For my money, the best bottle you can buy is Single Barrel. Beyond that it’d be a toss-up between Green and Black, and I’d probably be inclined to mix them. Gentleman Jack is just best avoided.

At a Glance:

Gentleman Jack 40% ABV
Nose: 
Lightly woody, very light toffee, a fair amount of corn. Faintly piney.
Palate:  Watery. Light wood, light caramel, gentle corn sweetness. Slight alcohol heat. Slight pepper. Faint cherry notes.
Finish: 
A little bit of alcohol kick, some vanilla initially, a bit of faintly earthy character and some wood. A touch of sugar. And then it’s gone. 
Comment: 
Turns out when you filter something after being in the barrel you get rid of even more of what makes it unique and distinctive. Yet another “classy” product that is devoid of substance. Don’t waste your money. 
Rating:
C-