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-

7 thoughts on “Gentleman Jack”

  1. Thanks for the interesting reviews!  My bet was on JD Green, but it looks like I need to try the Single Barrel — that’s good news!

    1. Hey Florin, 

      I can’t speak for all the Single Barrels; I know some of the LAWS guys are less taken with it than I was but my particular bottle was legitimately pretty worthwhile. It’s been interesting to go through them. 

      1. Tim, I just finished a mini of the JD Single Barrel Select.  Really good stuff!  I agree with your review — nice call on the black tea notes!  What struck me is the interplay between the mellow soft side (velvety but substantial body, toffee, vanilla, maple syrup) and the spicy side — a kick similar to rye whiskies (on this front it reminded me of the Willett ryes from LDI).  It must be 5 minutes since I drained it but the clean minty finish is still with me.  Without this good boy/bad boy character I wouldn’t be interested.  For instance I find George Dickel #12 syrupy and cloying.  

        Really good and distinctive stuff — I’ll spring for a bottle soon!

  2.  Wow, the smack was surely laid down on Gentleman Jack.  I have to admit, it mixes beautifully in coke ;).  I find it’s sweeter than regular Jack.

    About Single Barrel, check this…back in the 80′s Jack was 95 proof.  Then it was reduced to 90 and then simply plummeted to 80.  they claim that it was because the “people” wanted a smoother drink.  Then they release Single Barrel at 94 proof.  Coming back full circle.  I wonder if they didn’t reduce the proof so that they could better market a Single Barrel product?

    With that said, I wonder if more age or higher proof (100) would improve JD?

    1. I don’t doubt it mixes well; there’s not much there in the way of rough edges. I’ve largely lost my taste for sodas in the last year, so it’s hard for me to really guess on the taste there. 

      I think I would agree that it’s sweeter but only slightly – the profile is so timid in general that it just seems to apologize for everything. 

      Interesting – I was under the impression the shift was 90 proof originally, 86, then 80. I’ve heard the same claim of smoothness and I’m sure there’s an element of that, but it’s hard to overlook the lower proof == more $$ per barrel angle. 
      Whatever the story is, I think Single Barrel is the highlight of the range and by a longshot. 

      I can’t speak to age but once the sinus infection passes, I’ll be taking a look at the proof question…

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