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On our way back from Las Vegas I stopped at duty free and picked up the Jack Daniel's 2014 Holiday Select, an annual release. Every previous Holiday Select release has been from small batches, but for the 2014, Master Distiller Jeff Arnett chose the barrels to be bottled individually. This means that the whisky is both "small batch" and "single barrel", implying that different bottles from this release may (or may not) taste different from each other. There is no barrel number on the bottle; only "Unique Bottling No. 57500", whatever that means. This bottle is freshly opened.
The colour is also deep dark bronze, no different from the 14-5822. On the nose there is more rye spice than expected, though the pepper is more subdued. Banana, burnt caramel, buttered toast and very rich vanilla. There is more subtlety here than usual. Water adds some smoke. Gentle but complex.
On the palate there is a bit more oomph - even though it's only 1% more alcohol than the standard Single Barrel bottlings, you can kind of feel it. Menthol, balsamic, cayenne and tropical fruit. Wet wood smoke. Malty, even. Water evens everything out very nicely. Leaner and spicier than the last barrel I tried but not as much of a bruiser - which here is a good thing.
The finish is long and warming, with smoky paprika and cigar box. Wow - this has subtlety, complexity and has enormous kick to it. Very well balanced without sacrificing that Jack Daniel's kick-in-the-ass. One of the two best Single Barrel releases I've ever had, the other one having been back in Vegas at the bar in our hotel: the Bellagio has it's own hand-picked Single Barrel (13-6044 bottled Oct 17 2013) that is the smoothest JD SB I've ever had. But this one is on the same level.