Jack Daniel’s travel retail offering really does encourage you to ‘Come Fly with Me’
By Sara L Smith
s we start to get back into the rhythms and routines of international travel, many of us are also rediscovering the joys of exploring travel retail via the shelves of duty free shops. When it comes to whisk(e)y, these explorations can take considerable time, which you may not have whilst you’re hurrying to get to your gate, and even if you do, you might not be able to sample the full range of products that you’re considering purchasing.
Today, we want to take you on a tour through some of the current selection from the Jack Daniel’s Distillery, hopefully giving you some insights before you even enter a terminal.
We start our journey with two expressions that sit under the distillery’s Tennessee Travelers umbrella. This new selection of limited-edition whiskeys is designed to “honour Jack’s desire to see the world” by exploring a broad range of flavours, and is available in Heinemann Airport Shops. The first is Sweet & Oaky, a straight-forwardly named straight Tennessee whiskey, and the second is a rye whiskey entitled Bold & Spicy. Both are bottled at 53.5% ABV.
Sweet & Oaky
Nose: Vibrant, sweet, and buttery, with rich aromas of vanilla bean, crème brûlée, and clotted cream ice-cream. Deliciously dessert-like.
Taste: An initial stalkiness contrasts pleasantly with the nose, before developing to a sweeter flavour profile of peanut brittle that becomes more delicate, with notes of cherry pie, crème anglaise, and egg custard tarts sprinkled with cinnamon. It’s important to note that the sweetness is well-balanced throughout, however.
Finish: The higher ABV gives this a long finish that is lovely and dry. It has the body and richness of bread and butter pudding, but with the dryness of oak.
Comments: This has the characteristic flavours of higher-proof Jack Daniel’s – notably that lovely peanut brittle note – so should appeal to those who are already fans of that. A splash of this would also make a wonderful addition to egg nog or a “$5 shake” (most likely nearer £10 now!).
Bold & Spicy
Nose: Opens up nicely over time with relatively dry aromas of vanilla, pepper, chewy caramel, and baking spice. Over time, this grows slightly sweeter, more reminiscent of sticky toffee pudding with dates and lighter notes of tropical muesli.
Taste: A flash of warmth at the start opens up an array of cherry and a light, raisin-like character, combined with gentle, well-integrated spice. The palate grows increasingly dry, with notes of oak and buttered malt loaf.
Finish: Peppery and papery, but with an underlying fruitiness of dried apple and papaya.
Comments: The rye shines through in this with an array of spiced notes, set against a lovely balanced sweetness.
Both Tennessee Travelers expressions are available for around £43 ($50) for 500ml.
Tennessee Sour Mash
Another bottle you may find on the shelves is Jack Daniel’s Tennessee Sour Mash Whiskey Bottled-in-Bond. This differs from the distillery’s Bonded Series, which you can find on UK and US domestic shelves and consists of two bottlings (Bonded and Triple Mash), although all three adhere to the legal requirements of the Bottled-in-Bond Act of 1897, which states that the spirit must be: from a single distillery; from a single distillation season; aged in a federally bonded warehouse for at least four years; and bottled at 100 US proof (50% ABV).
Nose: A distinctive, bold nose of vanilla, oak, caramel, and candied peanuts. The caramel notes are more complex than usual with hints of sweet tea, syrup sponge, and warm spice. Fruity aromas develop over time, including raisin, baked apple, and hints of pineapple, with even a dash of melted milk chocolate.
Taste: A smooth mouthfeel is accompanied by a beautifully vivid nuttiness and rich caramel, before a quick move towards a dry, woody mid-palate that’s highlighted by lighter, fruity notes of apple. At 50% ABV, the flavours linger notably longer than those of Old No.7 and the whiskey has a comforting warmth to it.
Finish: Dry oak, tea tannins, and a hint of minerality, all on top of an underlying fruitiness with hints of charred oak.
Comments: This is bold and vibrant, and develops quickly on the palate, but has a lasting, dry finish. A fantastic, versatile standard bourbon with lots of explore, whether that be over ice or in a mixed drink (it makes a jubilant Mint Julep).
If you have tried Jack Daniel’s Bonded from the domestic market, be aware that this expression is much richer and less dry in character, especially on the mid-palate, and has more distinctive peanut brittle notes.
This travel-exclusive Bottled-in-Bond is typically available for around £28.50 for a litre in World Duty Free shops, making it a fantastic opportunity to get a bolder, stronger expression of Jack Daniel’s at a price not far from that of Old No.7 (£25 for one litre). I spoke to a self-confessed fan of Jack Daniel’s and they said the Bottled-in-Bond is “a real hidden gem”, oft overlooked in the presence of newer releases.
Last, but definitely not least, we return to a limited edition first released back in 2013: Sinatra Select. Whilst you can buy this expression outside of duty free, the discount is significant: it retails for around £150 in the UK, but is currently available for £117 in World Duty Free, which makes it well worth considering if you’re on the lookout for something special.
This whiskey, designed to pay tribute to Frank Sinatra, is matured in special barrels that have grooves carved into them to expose the spirit to more layers of the toasted oak. It is bottled at 45% ABV, the higher proof that the whiskey would have been at when Frank was drinking it pre-1987 (compared with the present day’s 40% ABV for Old No.7 in the UK).
Unlike the other releases mentioned, the Sinatra Select is packaged in a substantial gift box, which also contains a small hardback book telling the story of Sinatra’s fondness for and relationship with Jack Daniel’s. The branding incorporates neat elements of Frank’s persona throughout, including the fedora icon and highlights in orange, said to be his favourite colour – not surprising, perhaps, when you consider the colour of his favourite whiskey!
Nose: A vibrant fruitiness with light notes of raspberry, nectarine, and baked apple. The oak notes develop over time, with a lovely honeyed woodiness and bright notes of spiced toffee.
Taste: Incredibly silky in texture, with notes of spiced butterscotch and buttery pastry. Like Old No.7, it has a fantastic nuttiness, but here there are more notes of flaked almond and brazil nut than peanuts. After time in the glass, hints of salted toffee and the creaminess of milk chocolate and melted butter develop.
Finish: A delightfully long finish of oak, vanilla, and frangipane tart with raspberry coulis accompanied by nut brittle or brandy snaps.
Comments: Bold and bright, with a silky texture and complex notes of almond, spice, and butterscotch. When compared with the Old No.7, the higher ABV adds to the mouthfeel.
This article was first published in Travelux issue 2 in September 2022.