Jack Daniel’s is the best-selling whiskey brand in the world so you would assume that it must be good. However, while there are certainly those who love their products, there are also those who say they’re just well-marketed, mediocre whiskeys. I decided to look into all this more closely so I could resolve the matter once and for all and here’s what I found.
Jack Daniel’s whiskeys are good as they’re sweet, smooth and easy to drink. Some are not suited to being sipped neat, but they are great for mixed drinks, cocktail and shots. I would recommend Old No. 7 as the cheapest, Single Barrel Rye for its sweet and spicy balance and Single Barrel Barrel Proof as the most flavorful and intense expression.
I examined all 10 of the current Jack Daniel’s products – they have about 57 Special Editions and a couple for the travel market, to find out whether they were good or whether they were mediocre but well-marketed offerings.
How I Determined Whether Jack Daniel’s Whiskeys Are Good
I didn’t want to present just my own personal opinion about these whiskeys but rather a more general consensus, so I gathered a team of experts (translation: anyone who would help me with this project and who knows a thing or two about whiskey) and amalgamated all our tasting notes. I left out those aromas and flavors that were found by only one person and focused on those experienced by more than one member of the group. Descriptors that appear earlier in the coming lists were detected by more people.
Everyone scored each whiskey out of 100 and I calculated the average.
The notes after each table are my summary of the general consensus and the combined results present a pretty clear picture of these whiskeys.
Here’s what we found:
Jack Daniel’s Old No. 7
- Price: $25.99 approx. for 750ml & $35.99 approx. for 1L
This standard expression is the reason why Jack Daniel’s is the best-selling whiskey in the world. It’s made from 80% corn, 8% rye and 12% malted barley and the resulting distillate is filtered through ten feet of sugar maple charcoal to remove unwanted flavors and contaminants which gives Jack Daniel’s its distinctive smoothness. It’s aged for at least four years in new American white oak casks.
|Color||Light amber, copper|
|Nose||Corn, vanilla, oak, charcoal, alcohol, dough, honey, brown sugar, mint, banana, charred wood, fruit|
|Taste||Vanilla, mint, corn sour, caramel, oak, wood, green apple, charcoal, honey, bananas, cinnamon, maple, nuts, pepper|
|Finish||Medium: Black pepper, dry, hot, oak, mint|
|Average Score – 70|
The consensus was that Jack Daniel’s Old No. 7 is a sweet, very drinkable and smooth whiskey with nothing terrible or offensive about it at all. The consensus was also that while the flavors are good there are not enough of them and certainly nothing stands out, so it would not make an interesting sipping whiskey. It lacks the character and depth of something more mature and complex.
This may explain why some people love Jack Daniel’s and some people don’t. Old No. 7 certainly won’t excite more experienced whiskey drinkers who are looking for something with lots of flavors they can really explore, but it is a simple and easy whiskey that’s accessible for casual whiskey drinkers (who, when considering the amount sold, are presumably the majority) especially if they use it in mixed drinks (Jack and Coke is super popular), cocktails and shots.
In other words, it’s a good whiskey for what it’s meant to be.
A more problematic issue is the price. While it’s certainly at the cheaper end of the spectrum so you can’t go terribly wrong if you do buy it (you can buy a bottle of Jack Daniel’s Old No. 7 here), with cheaper options for this level of quality and better whiskeys for this price, there’s less of a reason for those with a broader knowledge of whiskeys to bother with this one.
It seems the solution to the Jack Daniel’s question is that it’s both good and well-marketed at the same time.
Jack Daniel’s Tennessee Rye
- Price: $26.88 approx. for 750ml & $39.99 approx. for 1L
This is the standard Jack Daniel’s rye expression but the only difference to Old No. 7 is the mash bill of 70% rye, 18% corn and 12% malted barley (as opposed to 80% corn, 8% rye and 12% malted barley), the charcoal filtration and aging are the same.
|Nose||Vanilla, banana, rye bread, rye spice, mint, wood, black pepper|
|Taste||Banana, vanilla, honey, spices, alcohol, anise, rye spice, rye bread, oak, pepper, nuts, barrel char|
|Finish||Short – Medium: Rye spice, banana, oak|
|Average Score – 65|
Jack Daniel’s Tennessee Rye is a pleasant, easy to drink whiskey that’s sweet and smooth. It too does not have that many flavors and in comparison to higher-priced ryes it is somewhat bland, so it’s not for those looking for a complex rye whiskey.
However, it would be good as a cheaper introduction to rye whiskeys and since the heavy rye mash bill does make it a spicier version of the Old No. 7 it’s good for spicing up cocktails
You can buy a bottle of Jack Daniel’s Tennessee Rye here.
Jack Daniel’s Tennessee Honey
- Price: $37.99 approx. for 750ml
As you can tell from the ABV and the fact that it contains caramel coloring, this is technically speaking not a whiskey. In fact, it’s self-described as a ‘honey liqueur’ and it’s made from a blend of Old No. 7 and Jack Daniel’s own honey liqueur. Since it is a form of whiskey drink and since there are two more similar offerings, we thought that once we’re doing this we might as well see how they stack up.
|Nose||Honey, oak, vanilla, cinnamon, banana, maple syrup, spices, barrel char|
|Taste||Honey, cinnamon, oak, milk chocolate, spices, vanilla, bitter, maple syrup, barrel char|
|Finish||Short: Honey, char, mild burn|
|Average Score – 68|
No one thought that Jack Daniel’s Tennessee Honey was going to be a complexly flavorful sipping whiskey and it is as expected an easy, honey-sweet alcoholic drink that’s great if you like something with lots of sugar or honey, for mixing with cocktails that contain something unsweet for balance, and of course for shots.
Interestingly, some of us felt it was far too sweet even for mixed drinks, whereas others thought that while the honey dominated you could still taste the underlying whiskey even when drinking it neat. I think it all depends on whether you have a sweet tooth and how sweet that tooth is, and if that’s enough to override the fact that Jack Daniel’s Tennessee Honey is quite pricy for what it is, you can buy a bottle here.
Jack Daniel’s Tennessee Fire
- Price: $24.99 approx. for 750ml & $46.99 approx. for 1.75L
This a blend of Old No. 7 and Jack Daniel’s own cinnamon liqueur to create a drink that mixes fire with whiskey.
|Nose||Cinnamon, oak, sweet, candy,|
|Taste||Cinnamon, sweet, spicy, nutmeg|
|Finish||Medium – long: Cinnamon, sweet|
|Average Score – 74|
As you can see from our combined notes, Jack Daniel’s Tennessee Fire does exactly what it says it would, no more and no less. It’s sweet, spicy and smooth and brings lots of cinnamon heat, and while some thought that the cinnamon balanced well with the whiskey, others thought it dominated so much that only a few notes from the underlying whiskey come through.
If you like cinnamon spice or cinnamon flavored liqueurs you’ll like this offering, perhaps even neat. Otherwise, it’s great for cocktails and shots. It’s still a little expensive for what it is, but if you’re a fan of cinnamon you can buy a bottle of Jack Daniel’s Tennessee Fire here.
Jack Daniel’s Tennessee Apple
- Price: $25.29 approx. for 750ml
As with the other two, Jack Daniel’s Tennessee Apple is a blend of Old No. 7 and Jack Daniel’s own apple liqueur.
|Nose||Green apple, oak, candy, vanilla|
|Taste||Green apple, cinnamon, caramel, honey|
|Finish||Short: Green apple|
|Average Score – 79|
Once again, this whiskey / apple liqueur combination does exactly what it sets out to do tasting of green apple and Old No. 7. It’s sweet, it’s smooth and most of us found the whiskey and apple to be well balanced.
Those who love an apple / whiskey pairing will certainly like this neat. If you don’t find it sweet enough for drinking neat you can mix it with ice to bring out the sweetness from the apple or the Tennessee Honey. If you find the apple too much for drinking neat, you can mix it with Old No. 7 to adjust the whiskey to apple ratio to your own taste.
And of course, this will also be great in apple cocktails or for shots.
It is a little pricy but it’s certainly good and if you’re a fan of apples and Jack Daniels you can buy a bottle of Tennessee Apple here.
Jack Daniel’s Gentleman Jack
- Price: $33.99 approx. for 750ml & $45.99 approx. for 1L
The uniqueness of Gentleman Jack is that it’s charcoal filtered twice. Like Old No. 7, it’s filtered before being put into the barrels but unlike any other Jack Daniel’s whiskey it’s also filtered after being matured before it’s bottled. The purpose of this is to remove any remaining impurities and further mellow the whiskey so that it’s even smoother than the smooth that Old No. 7 is known for.
|Nose||Vanilla, caramel, banana, oak, butter, sugar, corn, varnish, char, honey, leather, spices|
|Taste||Caramel, vanilla, oak, corn, banana, char, pepper, maple, spices, fruit|
|Finish||Short – Medium: Oak, caramel, pepper, cinnamon, walnuts, licorice, corn|
|Average Score – 64|
The second charcoal filtering does work, and Gentleman Jack is definitely smoother than Old No. 7. However, this creates its own problems as the second filtering tones down the flavors too, which being somewhat lacking in the first place is not something any Jack Daniel’s whiskey can afford to do. Also being smoother meant there was no rough charred character to help balance out the sweet flavors.
In other words, Gentleman Jack is a milder and smoother version of Old No. 7, so it’s still a good whiskey that’s sweet, smooth and drinkable, but which you’ll prefer will depend on whether you want extra smoothness or to not lose any Jack Daniel’s flavors.
The fancy bottle and the second filtering is Jack Daniel’s marketing hard at work to justify a price which could easily get you a better whiskey. But if you value that extra smoothness, you can buy a bottle of Jack Daniel’s Gentleman Jack here.
Jack Daniel’s Sinatra Select
- Price: $172.99 approx. for 1L
Some of the brand’s success is probably due to Frank Sinatra for whom Jack Daniel’s was his drink of choice. To pay tribute to their biggest fan they created Jack Daniel’s Sinatra Select which is aged in their unique ‘Sinatra Barrels’ that have deep groves carved into their staves so that the whiskey has more exposure to the oak and can acquire more flavor than the standard Jack Daniel’s expressions.
Ironically, since this whiskey came out after his death, Sinatra only ever drank the less flavorful standard version.
|Nose||Caramel, oak, vanilla, honey, citrus, toffee, cream, mint, wood, banana, apple, light smoke, buttercream, fruit|
|Taste||Vanilla, oak, caramel, banana, orange, leather, cinnamon, fruit, butterscotch, oak spice, honey, tobacco, clove, cream, nuts|
|Finish||Medium – long: Oak, oak tannins, tobacco, spices, dry, honey, vanilla, bananas, cloves, chocolate|
|Average Score – 78|
Jack Daniel’s Sinatra Select is definitely an upgraded version of Gentleman Jack and Old No. 7, so if you like Jack Daniel’s you’ll love the easy to drink Sinatra Select. It’s sweet, smooth, bold and flavorful, with a round and full mouthfeel, and complex enough to be a daily sipper for some – others will still not find it interesting enough.
However, despite being a better whiskey than Gentleman Jack and Old No. 7, Sinatra Select is not five times better, so it’s a problem that the price is five times higher! It’s the Jack Daniel’s marketing again … I mean you’re actually paying for the history and lore that comes with a commemorative bottle, rather than for what’s in it.
If you’re a fan of both the whiskey and one of the most famous men to drink it, and you want a bottle of Jack Daniel’s with Sinatra’s name on it, then you can buy a bottle of Jack Daniel’s Sinatra Select here.
Jack Daniel’s Single Barrel Select
- 47%ABV in the US, 45%ABV outside the US
- Price: $54.99 approx. for 750ml & $64.95 approx. for 1L
Jack Daniels Single Barrel Select is Old No. 7 from a single barrel and with a higher ABV. The barrels that all versions of this whiskey come from are matured in the uppermost part of the Jack Daniel’s warehouse, where increased changes in temperature cause they whiskey’s color to deepen and its flavors to become more intense.
Being single barrel whiskeys means there will be variations between bottles from different barrels. Fortunately, each bottle has the number of the barrel it comes from on the label.
|Nose||Vanilla, caramel, banana, oak, brown sugar, wood, butterscotch, cinnamon, pepper, corn, banana bread, fruit, alcohol|
|Taste||Vanilla, oak, corn, spices, milk chocolate, caramel, cinnamon, banana, brown sugar, banana bread, pepper|
|Finish||Medium – long: Spices, pepper, char, banana, cinnamon, alcohol|
|Average Score – 71|
Jack Daniel’s Single Barrel Select is a great whiskey and a big step up from the Old No. 7. It’s tasty, smooth and very drinkable but more importantly it has a lot more flavors. It’s light but it has a good mouthfeel, and although it has some ethanol youth due to being a young whiskey at 47%ABV, it’s very minor.
It’s still not as complex as some whiskey drinkers might like and being a sweet whiskey it’s not to everyone’s taste, but those who like the Jack Daniel’s flavor profile or sweet whiskeys will certainly like this.
It’s also relatively cheap for what it is. Now that’s what I call good marketing!
You can buy one of the Jack Daniel’s Single Barrel Select expressions here.
Jack Daniel’s Single Barrel Rye
- Price: $54.99 approx. for 750ml
Similar to the Single Barrel Select, the Single Barrel Rye is the Tennessee Rye but from a single barrel and with a higher ABV. It has the same mash bill of 70% rye, 18% corn and 12% malted barley but it comes from a single barrel of whiskey matured in the uppermost part of the Jack Daniel’s warehouse, for bigger and bolder rye flavors.
Once again, being single barrel whiskeys means there will be variations between bottles.
|Nose||Vanilla, banana, oak, brown sugar, caramel, butterscotch, corn, ethanol, rye spice, cherry, fruit|
|Taste||Caramel, banana, rye spice, oak, creamy, vanilla, honey, spices, fruit|
|Finish||Medium – long: Spices, oak tannins, drying, oak, caramel, corn|
|Average Score – 79|
Like the Single Barrel Select is a step up from the Old No. 7, Jack Daniel’s Single Barrel Rye is a step up from the Tennessee Rye. It’s a decent, easy to drink whiskey that’s sweet, spicy and flavorful with all the rye notes you’d expect from a rye whiskey.
It’s not as complex as some of the other rye whiskeys out there (which may have something to do with how young it is) and it has a little more sweetness, restraint and cost when compared to your typical bombastic rye whiskeys, making it less likely for some people to bother with this one.
However, if you prefer a rye character that has a little more sweetness, you can buy one of the Jack Daniel’s Single Barrel Rye expressions here.
Jack Daniel’s Single Barrel Barrel Proof
- 62.5% – 70%ABV
- Price: $62.99 approx. for 750ml
This whiskey is both single barrel and barrel proof – meaning it’s bottled straight from the barrel at its full proof and not diluted as it usually is. Bottles of Jack Daniel’s Single Barrel Barrel Proof are between 62.5% – 70%ABV. The bottle we tried was 64.5%ABV.
|Nose||Vanilla, caramel, oak, banana, brown sugar, toffee, corn, spices, cherry, smoke, wood, cinnamon, maple syrup, tobacco|
|Taste||Cinnamon, banana, vanilla, oak, spices, pepper, cloves, honey, menthol, raisins, maple syrup, licorice, brown sugar, wood, smoke, coconut, fruit|
|Finish||Long: Banana, cinnamon, dry, oak, pepper|
|Average Score – 86|
Jack Daniel’s Single Barrel Barrel Proof is a step up from the Single Barrel Select which itself is a step up from the Old No. 7. It still may not have the complexity of some more mature whiskeys but it’s delicious and sweet with a creamy texture, a rich mouthfeel and lots of well-balanced and intense flavors.
The high ABV means that some will prefer to water it down (although others found it easy to drink without doing so!) but otherwise it’s a good, enjoyable whiskey especially if you like the Jack Daniel’s flavor profile.
And the price is quite good value for money too.
You can buy one of the Jack Daniel’s Single Barrel Barrel Proof expressions here.