Bradley Watson from Jack Daniel’s SA explains what makes Jack Daniel’s Tennessee Rye different to Jack Daniel’s Old No. 7, and what you should look out for when slow sippin’ the new Rye.

By now you would’ve seen Jack Daniel’s Tennessee Rye in the media and on shelves. A few of you may have even tried it already, and a few of you may still be toying with the idea. 

Bradley Watson from Jack Daniel’s SA explains what makes Jack Daniel’s Tennessee Rye different to Jack Daniel’s Old No. 7, and what you should look out for when slow sippin’ the new Rye.

Let’s take a step back first: what is the distilling process for Jack that makes it stand out compared to other whiskies?

“The main distinguishing factor that makes Jack Daniel’s stand out from the rest is the charcoal mellowing, or Lincoln County process. We are one of very few whiskey distilleries that still follow this method today, and this process is what makes us a Tennessee Whiskey.”

Could you explain the charcoal mellowing process?

“We take our new make or distilled spirit and filter it drop by drop though 10 feet of hard sugar maple charcoal that we produce ourselves. We grind down the charcoal to a quarter inch to create a greater surface area so that the whiskey filters through the charcoal and not around it. Charcoal mellowing smooths out the spirit beautifully and removes impurities. We call this process the ‘extra blessing’ and can take up to 12 days to complete.” 

When doing a Rye tasting, what should we look out for?

“On the nose you will look out for an enticing blend of sweet soft fruit with an underlying rye spice and oak. On the pallet the 90 proof Jack Daniel’s Tennessee Rye packs rich flavour from start to finish. This well-rounded rye whiskey brings out caramel and dry baking spice. On the finish you will get smooth peppery rye character on the back end.

When tasting Jack Daniel’s Tennessee Whiskey, what should we look out for?

“On the nose you will look out for balanced character with a sweet, oaky, medium body. On the palette, you will pick up caramel, vanilla and toasted oak. Perfect balance of sweet and oak that concentrates at mid palette. On the finish it will be smooth, creamy and clean.”

What makes Rye different to No. 7?

The only difference between Jack Daniel’s Tennessee Whiskey and Jack Daniel’s Tennessee Rye Whiskey is the grain bill; both whiskeys follow the same distillation, charcoal mellowing and maturation processes. Our Rye whiskey is the first whiskey we have produced since prohibition with a different grain bill. 

What do you mean by grain bill? What is it, and why is it important?

“The grain bill is the mix of different grains we use to make our whiskey. The grain bill or mash bill on our core family of brand is 80% corn, 12% malted barley and 8% rye while our new Rye whiskey has a grain bill of 70% rye, 18% corn and 12% malted barley. Jack Daniel’s is a sour mash whiskey which in simple terms means we use the same yeast strain and recycle mash from our previous batch to start the new batch every time. This along with our grain bill allows for the same quality and consistency every single time we make our whiskey, a characteristic that is of paramount importance to us.” 

How do you drink your Rye?

“Jack Daniel’s Tennessee Rye, a lot like our other variants, offers great mixability. Some my personal favorite ways to drink Jack Rye is straight in a glass, Jack Rye and ginger ale, and a Jack Rye Boulevardier. With its endless mixability options you really can experiment with Jack Rye, therefore the best way to drink it is your way.”