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.
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.