Jack Daniel’s Digs Into Super Premium Whiskey
For over 156 years, that black-labeled, square-bottomed bottle of Jack Daniel’s No. 7 has been hard to escape. It’s been an accessory for Frank Sinatra and Motley Crue, a key character in movies like Hud and Animal House. No. 7 has been namechecked in a laundry list of hit songs by Eric Church, Hank Williams Jr, Jason Aldean, and Alan Jackson, among many, many others.
Jack Daniel’s sells over 12 million 9-liter cases of No. 7 per year and ships it to over 170 countries. Hundreds of thousands of visitors descend on the brand’s birthplace-slash-current home (that’s Lynchburg, Tennessee) annually. Jack Daniel’s is the most valuable spirits brand in the world, according to Interbrand.
So it may not surprising if the name Jack Daniel’s doesn’t exactly conjure images of craft.
That’s why a new Bonded extension to Jack’s core line is aimed at changing that notion. With it, the brand is entering the super-premium whiskey space with more artisanal expressions of Jack Daniel’s: a Bonded Tennessee Whiskey and a Triple Mash Whiskey (a blend of straight whiskeys from the Jack Daniel’s category).
Though the brand has had a few bottles of bonded Jack floating around travel retail in the past, this is completely different — it’s bigger and more nuanced. With a mash bill of 80% corn, 12% malted barley, and 8% rye, Jack Daniel’s Bonded Tennessee Whiskey is dark and rich, with a good amount of spice despite the calmer rye content. It’ll play incredibly well in cocktails.
The second new release is a Jack Daniel’s Triple Mash. It’s a blend of straight whiskeys from the Jack Daniel’s catalog, including 60% Jack Daniel’s rye, layered with 20% Tennessee whiskey and 20% Jack Daniel’s American malt. The liquid is aged in new charcoal oak barrels and brought to a bonded 50% ABV. Expect burnt banana bread on the nose, with a big mid-palate and an elegant dry cinnamon spice. Both are delicious — highly sippable, with unique profiles that even the whiskey nerds will nod to.
And the best part? Both bottles sit under $35, making them approachable to bartenders looking to play beyond Jack and Coke and brand fans looking to parlay their passion for the brand into a silkier sip.
Despite the more procedural process, both bottles sit at an approachable price point – $29.99 for the Bonded and $32.99 for the Triple Mash. Bottles are available in the US as of early May, with international markets rolling out later in the year.
With these releases, Jack Daniel’s is swooping into a higher tier of products. According to the Distilled Spirits Council of the United States, sales of super-premium bourbon ($50 or more, though technically Jack is a Tennessee whiskey) grew from 1.5 million cases to 3.5 million, or by about 135%, in the five years between 2014 and 2019.
A Dig Into Historical Jack Daniel’s
These new expressions pull cues from American distilling history.
Each bottle in the bonded series meets the rigorous Bottled-in-Bond standards. In the late 1800s, many whiskeys were of questionable provenance. Booze was bought in barrels, not bottles, which made it easy to tweak and taint. The government enacted the Bottled-in-Bond designation as a mark of provenance and transparency.
It mandates that brands clear numerous rigorous hurdles. The spirit must be aged for at least four years and bottled at precisely 100 proof (50% abv). It must be made by one distiller at a single distillery in one season (in this case, Lynchburg, Tennessee), then aged in a bonded warehouse.
Bonded isn’t an easy designation to hit. You need complete control over your sourcing, your supply chain, and your distillation process — something Jack has kept close at hand despite its incredible growth over the last few decades.
“The Jack Daniel Distillery has been making exceptional American whiskey to the highest standards for generations, before and after the Bottled in Bond Act, dating back to the days of Mr. Jack himself,” said Chris Fletcher, Jack Daniel’s Master Distiller. “Jack Daniel’s Bonded and Triple Mash are a nod to our heritage with a touch of innovation and craftsmanship. These whiskeys are another opportunity for both our friends and new drinkers to explore and discover everything Jack Daniel’s has to offer.”
A New Area for Lynchburg’s Crowning Glory
There have been new products in the past for Jack in the past — a Tennessee Rye, Jack’s Tennessee Fire, plus Apple and Honey, for flavored fans. There’s the highly sippable Gentleman Jack, for connoisseurs. But this release explores the nerdier side of whiskey history (Jack Daniel Distillery is the first registered distillery in the US, after all).
During his term, prior master distiller Jeff Arnett started digging into more exclusive expressions, including single barrel options and the fantastic Coy Hill releases. Current master distiller Chris Fletcher, alongside assistant distiller Lexie Phillips, are keeping the flame, further exploring Jack’s craft roots with these two new expressions (plus others in the pipeline, the duo hint).
Consider the number of cases the brand moves a year (hint: a lot). If you’re willing to drive an hour-ish Southwards from Nashville, visitors can take a deep dive into the charcoal filtration process that makes Jack, and Tennessee Whiskey as a category, unique. In that town, almost every resident is related to the distillery in some form or another. Fletcher is the grandson of former Master Distiller Frank Bobo, and three other relatives of Nearest Green, the distiller who taught a young Daniel his craft, work at the distillery today.
That also means Fletcher and Phillips have a full box of toys they can play with, from a custom cooperage to dozens of on-site barrel houses full of products to work with. They have the brand power to play with everything from Lynchburg’s mineral-rich underground cave springs to custom strains of yeast to over a century of well-cataloged distilling knowledge to pull from. Single malt will be matured in new charred oak barrels — Jack Daniel’s has a dedicated barrel facility just across the Alabama border, where barrels are assembled by hand and charred to the brand’s specs to perfectly balance out the sweetness from the rye and Tennessee whiskey. In line with the rest of Jack’s portfolio, malt is fermented using custom yeast strains (grown in the brand’s microbiology lab) and distilled via column copper still. For Phillips and Fletcher, there’s a custom yeast lab with a staff microbiologist and a brand historian to catalog the minutiae of its history of Jack.
With this toolbox, Fletcher and Phillips have used their veritable whiskey playground to investigate the world of American Single Malts.
You’ll notice the Triple Mash calls for American malt — specifically, a Jack Daniel’s riff on American single malt. While the liquid in this bottle is young (five-ish years), Jack has had single malts aging for almost a decade. One will come later this year, Fletcher promises.
Recently, the Distilled Spirits Council of the United States (DISC SC -3.8%US) and the American Single Malt Whiskey Commission (ASMWC) have been pushing the TTB to move forward with rulemaking to establish a standard of identity for American Single Malt whiskey. The coalition noted that consumers will benefit greatly from a clear definition of what constitutes a single malt whiskey produced in the United States.
While smaller brands have leaned into the American Single Malt category, Jack Daniel’s is one of the first major whiskey players to dabble into the American single malt space. Stranahan’s, The Notch, Westland, FEW Spirits; all brands that have leaned into their (unofficial) takes on American single malt. But Jack has history and scale — they can roll out a mass quantity of high-quality product while still producing their best-selling No. 7.
If these are affordable, expressive releases are indications, the Jack camp is ready to flex their innovation prowess. Jack recentering back to this history is a reminder of Jack’s still-present, old-time way of making whiskey.