Recently, Jack Daniel’s released their hotly anticipated Single Barrel Rye Whiskey, marking their first matured whiskey with a mash bill different from Old No. 7 in 100 years. The result is a grain-forward, sweet rye that doesn’t take any chances, but succeeds in representing the drinkability fans have come to expect from Jack Daniel’s.
The release was a long time coming. The distillery had bottled two previous expressions of the rye in the last few years. In 2012 came Jack Daniel’s Unaged Tennessee Rye, an unabashed attempt to cash in on their newest mash bill before it had even entered a barrel. Then in 2014, Jack Daniel’s Rested Rye hit shelves, giving fans a look into the progress of the rye, although it was still rough around the edges. Interestingly and despite their young age, the exclusivity of tasting the new recipe, with Rested Rye released as one-time offering, kept prices at $50 a bottle, the same as Single Barrel Rye.
This newest release comes in the midst of a surge of rye whiskey sales in America. In total volume, between 2009 and 2014, rye whiskey sales in the US increased by a factor of six, according to the Distilled Spirits Council Midway. An indication of their heavy investment in this rise, Jack Daniel’s unexpectedly released the rye as a single-barrel expression, with rick and barrel number indicated on the neck, joining Select and Barrel Proof as the third addition to their acclaimed single-barrel lineup.
Take this bottle as an indication that in the fast-evolving whiskey market, even the top-selling American whiskey distillery, which has traditionally been very slow to change their image, felt the need to make a big move to capture more of the market. It’s a bullish time to be a distiller, and rye is the next, relatively untapped game in town. And if their past indicates anything, fans of this rye will have a barrel-proof offering to look forward to once the flavors have mellowed a bit more.
Mash bill: 70 percent rye, 18 percent corn and 12 percent malted barley
Nose: clean, roasted, sourdough
Mouth: sweet at first, then bready and hot, finishes clean
Verdict: a great, safe rye, but not as unique as others already on the market
Alternative Ryes: Sazerac 6 Year Rye ($45), High West Double Rye! ($40), Smooth Ambler Old Scout 7 Year Rye ($45)