I know that JD calls itelf a Tennessee Whiskey, but what is a Tennessee whiskey?
First of, it is a Straight Bourbon Whiskey that has to be produced in the state of Tennnessee. I'll remind you quickly that a bourbon has a wash bill of at least 51% corn and must be aged in new charred oak casks. And, as for the Straight part, this maturation has to be for at least 2 years.
On top of that, Brown-Forman use for its JD brand the Lincoln county process, which consist of filtering the new make spirit at least once in maple charcoal.
And to complicate matter just a wee bit more, it's a sour mash, meaning that some of the previous mash bill is used to start the next batch. Meaning that you get more of the local yeasts into the distiller beer that goes into the wash still.
For the Single Barrel, Jeff Arnett, master distiller, chooses usually older barrels from the upper reaches of the best lofts of the wharehouses. And it is bottled at a higher proof to keep all the flavour intatc in the bottle.
Phew! But what does that do to the spirit? It makes it yummi!
Straight out of the bottle, we see a deep burnt caramel colour, and lots of bubbles. The nose is maple, caramelized banana a la mode. So nice. It speaks of acetone, wood, corn and vanilla.
Leaving it Standing for while in the glass opens things up and adds some spices. I get anice étoilée and some dark fruits. Corinthian raisins? Figs? And quite some wood.
The taste is very fruity with dark red prunes with poivre jamaïcain. But it needs water.
The water did not change much to me on the nose, perhaps blanketing the wood a bit. But on the palate, lots of things are now happening: maple, mint, lots of cinnamon throughout, the wood again. And some nice charcoal and rye cake topped with unsalted butter. And then evovles again into something like cherry pie or good cherry cola.
And what a finish. It lasts and lasts. Unbelievable for a Tennessee whisky. Never had such a finish on anything but the best scotch. It's all about the spices and the wood and the cherry cola.
Definitely one of the best bourbon around.
I tried some of their commemorative bottling, , single barrel from other years and sponsored of private barrels, and they do vary. In both colour and flavour profile. But the complexity is always there, and so does the great finish and nose. Some will be more banana, maple or vanilla, but all of them good.
A bit more expensive then the Gentleman Jack, but the complexity of it justify the difference. If it could just be bottled at cask strenght.