Jack Daniel’s Old No. 7 may be the best-known expression of the brand, but it isn’t the only one. There are actually over 60 different Jack Daniel’s whiskeys which can make things a little confusing. Fortunately, they can all be categorized into one of seven different types of Jack Daniel’s whiskey, each with their own unique characteristics. This makes it much easier for you to decide which one you want to drink. First.
1. The Signature Expression
Jack Daniel’s Old No. 7 is the signature expression of the brand and deserves a category of its own. This is because it’s the basis of almost all Jack Daniel’s whiskeys, which start off as Old No. 7 but because of variations in the way they’re made, become their own types of Jack Daniel’s whiskey.
That’s why in order to understand all types of Jack Daniel’s whiskey we have to understand Old No. 7 first.
Jack Daniel’s Old No. 7 is made from a mash bill (fancy word for grain recipe) of 80% corn, 8% rye and 12% malted barley. The high corn content is far more than you’ll find in many other American whiskeys, which is part of the reason why the whiskey is so sweet.
The resulting distillate is filtered through sugar maple charcoal to remove unwanted flavors and contaminants. According to the law, all Tennessee whiskeys have to be charcoal filtered, but Jack Daniel’s version of the process has several unique aspects.
Firstly, they make their own charcoal by dousing pallets of hard sugar maple with raw, unaged Jack Daniel’s distillate and setting it on fire, so that it doesn’t pick up a petroleum taste during the process. They also grind the charcoal down into smaller pieces to increase the surface area for the off-flavor molecules that are being filtered out, to stick to. Finally, they also filter their distillate through 10 feet of charcoal, which makes the process take 3 – 5 days.
This is why Jack Daniel’s whiskeys are so smooth. With the bitterness from the grain and yeast filtered out, the distillate is already soft and mellow even before the aging process, where it’s placed into new, American white oak barrels for at least four years of maturation.
In terms of taste, Old No. 7 is sweet, smooth and drinkable. It has good flavors but not the character and depth that more mature and complex whiskeys have. It 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 and great in mixed drinks and cocktails. Which is why we’ve all heard of Jack and Coke.
2. The Rye Expression
The Tennessee Rye is made in exactly the same way as the Old No. 7 except that it has a significantly different mash bill. This is what makes it a completely different type of Jack Daniel’s whiskey.
The following table compares the mash bill of these two whiskeys.
|Old No. 7||80% corn, 8% rye and 12% malted barley|
|Tennessee Rye||70% rye, 18% corn and 12% malted barley|
As you can see, the difference between the two is in whether it’s corn or rye that makes up the bulk of the mash bill. Corn gives whiskey sweetness, while rye gives it pepper and spice flavors. Which is why the Tennessee Rye is a spicier version of the Old No. 7.
3. Whiskey Liqueurs
This type of Jack Daniel’s whiskey is technically not a whiskey because it’s diluted to 35%ABV and contains caramel coloring. It’s still a type of whiskey drink because it’s a blend of Old No. 7 and one of Jack Daniel’s own liqueurs.
There are three of these whiskey + liqueur drinks:
- Jack Daniel’s Tennessee Honey – a blend of Old No. 7 and honey liqueur.
- Jack Daniel’s Tennessee Fire – a blend of Old No. 7 and cinnamon liqueur.
- Jack Daniel’s Tennessee Apple – a blend of Old No. 7 and apple liqueur.
These types of Jack Daniel’s whiskeys are great if you like whiskey with even more sweetness – honey or apple – or cinnamon spice.
4. Uniquely Made Whiskeys
Some Jack Daniel’s expressions are made in a unique way in order to produce a specific result, which is why I find these types of Jack Daniel’s whiskeys very interesting. There are two of them.
Jack Daniel’s Gentleman Jack
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 smoothness that Jack Daniel’s is known for.
The only problem is that the second charcoal filtering tones down the flavors too. It seems we have to choose between extra smoothness or more flavors.
Jack Daniel’s Sinatra Select
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 other Jack Daniel’s expressions.
Jack Daniel’s Sinatra Select is definitely better than the Gentleman Jack and Old No. 7. It’s sweet, smooth, bold and flavorful, with a round and full mouthfeel, and is complex enough to be a daily sipper for some.
The only problem is that it’s also very expensive. And by very expensive I mean very, very expensive.
5. Single Barrel Whiskeys
Another type of Jack Daniel’s whiskey is those that come from single barrels.
Barrels matured in the uppermost part of the Jack Daniel’s warehouse are exposed to more changes in temperature than those stored elsewhere. This causes the whiskey they contain to have a deeper color and more intense flavors – which is why they’re used for Jack Daniel’s selection of single barrel whiskeys.
There are two types of Jack Daniel’s Single Barrel Whiskey:
Jack Daniel’s Single Barrel Select – the single barrel version of the Old No. 7
Jack Daniel’s Single Barrel Rye – the single barrel version of the Tennessee Rye
Obviously, being single barrel whiskeys means that there will be variations between bottles from different barrels, but both the Single Barrel Select and the Single Barrel Rye are great whiskeys that are a big step up from the Old No. 7 and Tennessee Rye respectively. They’re tasty, smooth and very drinkable but more importantly the Single Barrel Select has a lot more flavors and the Single Barrel Rye has bigger and bolder rye flavors.
They’re also relatively cheap for what they are.
6. Barrel Proof Whiskeys
This type of Jack Daniel’s whiskey is Old No. 7 that’s both single barrel and barrel proof – meaning it’s bottled straight from the barrel at its full proof and not diluted like it usually is. Bottles of Jack Daniel’s Single Barrel Barrel Proof are between 62.5% – 70%ABV.
Once again, being also single barrel whiskeys means that there will be variations between bottles from different barrels, but Jack Daniel’s Single Barrel Barrel Proof is definitely a step up from the Single Barrel Select which as mentioned, is itself a step up from the Old No. 7. It’s delicious and sweet with a creamy texture, a rich mouthfeel and lots of well-balanced and intense flavors.
7. Limited and Special Editions
The last type of Jack Daniel’s whiskey forms the largest category – about 55 whiskeys. That’s because Jack Daniel’s have a lot of reasons to make limited and special editions. Here are some examples:
- Holiday Select Series – a series of whiskeys from the barrels used to craft the Jack Daniel’s Holiday Tree.
- Master Distiller Series – a series of whiskeys honoring the Jack Daniel’s master distillers.
- Gold Medal Series – a series of whiskeys celebrating receiving the Gold Medal for finest whiskey in the world at the World’s Fair whiskey competition.
- Repeal of Prohibition Anniversary Editions
- Jack Daniel’s Anniversary Editions
- Legacy Edition Bottles – a series of whiskeys celebrating the history of Jack Daniels.
Obviously, these types of Jack Daniels whiskey are almost impossible to get and even more obviously, prohibitively expensive.