Jack Daniel’s 10 Year Tennessee Whiskey is the iconic brand’s first 10 year aged-stated whiskey in more than 100 years. According to Master Distiller Chris Fletcher, the limited edition release was composed of a little over 200 barrels for the inaugural release this year. Due to low yield, the company assumes that they were able to put out approximately 24,000 bottles for this release.
According to the press release, “The 10-Year-Old bottle design is also inspired by the brand’s history, featuring a hand-drawn iteration of the original cartouche that appeared on Jack Daniel’s aged-stated bottles a century ago.”
While not officially labeled bourbon, most of Jack Daniel’s whiskeys meet the criteria required to be called a bourbon. After distillation, Jack Daniel’s Tennessee Whiskey undergoes what is referred to as the ‘Lincoln County Process.’ Jack Daniel’s allows its whiskey to drip for six days in 10-foot vats, passing through charcoal that was made by burning maple wood that had been impregnated with 140 proof Jack Daniel’s whiskey, before being put in new charred oak barrels for aging.
Familiar scents of Jack Daniel’s are present, however they come across as richer. Notes of sweet caramel, brown sugar, and banana flambe lead the way, followed by a pop of caramel, vanilla, and charred oak. Inhaling deeper brings notes of dried dark fruits along with a tinge of ethanol burn, reminding you that this is proofed much higher than a standard bottle of Jack Daniel’s Tennessee Whiskey. It’s a very enjoyable way to open up the sip and provides an intriguing foundation for what’s to come.
The amount of time these barrels spent on the top floors of the rack house is evident, as the palate is surprisingly dry. Charred tannic oak, rich dried raisins, and tobacco leaf punch their way to the top. Diving deeper are notes of light sweet corn, burnt caramel, dry leather, and a touch of rye spice. It’s a really interesting combination that is far from the sweeter banana flavor profile of standard Jack Daniel’s and implores you to come back over and over to dissect its nuances.
The dry notes carry through with leather and tobacco leaf mingling with a hint of banana. A slow sultry rye spice makes an appearance providing for an underlying lingering heat. As time goes on the leather gets progressively drier and mingles with dry oak, all while resting on that bed of heat. While pleasing, it relies a little too much on the drier notes, ending the sip on a slightly more straightforward approach versus the nose and palate.
Jack Daniel’s 10 Year has three main traits that allow it to stand out among its siblings in the company's product portfolio - age, aging location, and proof.
Jack Daniel’s hasn’t produced a 10 year age stated whiskey in over a 100 years. The fact that it took them this long to reintroduce this more standard age statement is mind boggling when you begin to think about it. This 10 years of aging is much longer than the brand’s norm, which usually sees their standard Jack Daniel’s Tennessee Whiskey being aged for about 4-5 years and their Single Barrel Select Jack Daniel’s Tennessee Whiskey being aged for about 5-7 years.
Where the barrels were pulled from to create this new expression is another major element that adds to its uniqueness. According to Fletcher, standard Jack Daniel’s barrels are typically a mix of hundreds of barrels pulled from all levels of their 90 barrel houses, while single barrel select products originate from the top floor only. For the 10 year edition, the company first rested barrels on the top floors for 8 years before moving them to lower levels to complete their aging. This has a pronounced impact on the flavor profile as both drier and richer notes can be found throughout.
The third piece of the uniqueness puzzle is proof. While they’ve clearly bottled much higher, as can be seen with Jack Daniel’s Single Barrel Barrel Proof, being bottled at 97 proof represents a first for the company. This, combined with its age and aging location, results in a rich pour that makes it stand out amongst its siblings. While it still contains the base notes found in standard Jack Daniel’s, and is only 3 proof points higher than Jack Daniel’s Single Barrel Select, the additional age combined with slightly higher proof results in a drastically richer sip. I wouldn’t say it’s the best Jack Daniel’s I’ve ever tasted, as I’ve had some fantastic barrels of their Single Barrel Barrel Proof (along with some not so good ones). However, unlike the much higher proof Single Barrel Barrel Proof, the consistency from bottle to bottle for this limited release truly allows it to stand out in the Jack Daniel’s family.
While 10 years isn’t always a big deal in the world of whiskey, for Jack Daniel’s it certainly is. With the exception of anyone who has lived long enough to claim to be a centenarian, this is the first time consumers are able to see a 10 year age statement prominent on a Jack Daniel’s bottle in their lifetime. Jack Daniel’s has a fervent fan base with many collectors among the bunch and I’m sure that they couldn't care less what this is priced at, as they want to experience exactly that.
However, the company has decided that this age comes at a price, as this limited edition clocks in higher than the company’s Single Barrel Barrel Proof and even the company’s limited edition Heritage series. While it’s not anywhere as expensive as the company’s Sinatra bottles, it’s still a premium for a Jack Daniel’s product. Thankfully the age results in a sip that backs up this price point. Taking into account its age, the flavor profile it delivers, and the significance for the brand, this inaugural edition feels like it’s priced properly.
With a noteworthy proofpoint and aging locations for the brand, combined with a prominent 10 year age statement, Jack Daniel’s 10 Year Tennessee Whiskey makes a splash in its inaugural debut.
This release is a really good reminder of how much of a difference both age and barrel location in a warehouse can make. As I sipped it next to standard Jack Daniel’s and a new Jack Daniel’s Single Barrel Select bottle, I was amazed at how much richer the 10 year old version tasted. It made me start to daydream about all of the other combinations the company could create by playing with the same age but varying barrel aging location. Hopefully the company continues down this innovative path and we see these types of variations in future 10 Year releases.
Jack Daniel’s 10 Year Tennessee Whiskey is an interesting path for the company to take. Where others have been focusing on radical innovation in the industry through unique grains or exotic barrel finishes, Jack Daniel’s went back to basics to reinvent its 10 year age stated whiskey. The gamble paid off though, as the resulting sip is rich and nuanced and will very much please both Jack Daniel’s fans and newcomers to the brand alike. Its price may be on the higher side for the brand, but in this case, it’s worth it and I encourage those who find a bottle to give it a shot.