Jack Daniel’s adds an American Single Malt to its permanent portfolio

The Jack Daniel Distillery released a new American Single Malt whiskey this week. It’s meant to be a permanent addition to their existing portfolio with a global reach. (Photo Courtesy of The Jack Daniel Distillery)

By Tabitha Evans Moore | EDITOR & PUBLISHER

LYNCHBURG, Tenn. — Master Distiller Chris Fletcher sits at his office located at the Jack Daniel Distillery giving a virtual tasting to around 30 reporters and industry bloggers around the country, including this one. Behind him, I can see the creek that runs through the distillery property. It’s the same creek that Jack Daniel’s himself once used to keep the “mother” yeast cool before refrigeration was a thing here in The Holler. That yeast is a single thread that runs through every bottle of whiskey produced here in Lynchburg since 1866.

Fletcher tells the group that discussions about the new single malt product started back in 2012 and that the process of creating it has been one of his biggest challenges since taking over the Master Distiller role back in October 2020. American distilleries weren’t yet producing much single malt whiskey at the time, and it seemed like an interesting category to expand.

They started out using the distillery’s standard malt – the one used in Jack Daniel’s Black Label and others – but the early attempts were a little earthy for Fletcher’s palate. So they switched to more of a brewer’s malt. This move led to a whiskey with more character and mouth feel, according to Fletcher.

Jack Daniel’s whiskey uses the The Lincoln County Process to make it’s Tennessee Whiskey and the new single malt gets filtered through that same signature process – 10 feet of charcoal just like the original Old. No. 7. That process softened the earthy tones and amplified the sweet characteristics. Then, the single malt whiskey was aged in new, charred American oak barrels before being finished in Oloroso Sherry Casks.

“It didn’t have the big sweet notes from corn, or the big spice notes from rye, and we wanted to layer some sweetness and richness. That’s where the sherry casks come in.”

The distillery acquired 330 sherry casks from connections at other Brown-Forman distilleries. They came from the sherry triangle, an area in the province of Cádiz in southwestern Spain. The first iterations were aged in larger 500 liter sherry butts, which created a bit of a challenge for the warehousing crew. All single malt whiskey made in Lynchburg is aged for a minimum of five years and Fletcher anticipates it will be finished for around two more.

My first nose impression of the whiskey gave me notes of malted chocolate milk with a bit of dried dark fruit like cherries or plums. There’s definitely a confectionary waft to it. The whiskey smells distinctly like oak. Like all malt whiskeys, its got a bit of a toasted bread notes with a subtle sherry finish. At just 90 proof, the whiskey is very approachable, and would make a great sipping whiskey with just couple of cubes of ice. It’s complex yet also very balanced.

Imitation is the greatest form of flattery

“This product is just so different,” Fletcher says. “But our goal was never to try and recreate a single malt Scotch whiskey. It’s just physically not possible based on our existing process.”

Fletcher says that he and distillery have the utmost respect for traditional scotch and whiskey maker in Scotland and Ireland and beyond, and the new Jack Daniel’s Single Malt Whiskey is meant to be a Tennessee version.

“This is meant to be a New World twist on the traditional single malt whiskey,” he says. “That was always the goal.”

Fletcher says that even though the new, first-of-its-kind whiskey made with 100 percent malted barley is meant to be a permanent offering and not a special release, quantities will be limited due to the fact that it’s a global release.

““There was a lot of excitement surrounding our limited edition American Single Malt Special Release last year, and so we wanted to offer it moving forward to our friends around the world,” Fletcher stated during a special media tasting on Tuesday. “These are not intended to by limited but there’s not a huge supply.”

It will be offered primarily in select duty-free outlets worldwide beginning this month. With nearly 40 locations in airports around the the globe, Lynchburg’s newest product should reach an estimated 13 million shoppers. It will also be available on select military bases throughout the United States. It will not be available locally or in the state of Tennessee.

Fletcher will travel to Europe beginning this week to promote the new whiskey. For more information, visit www.jackdaniels.com. •

{The Lynchburg Times is a nonpartisan community newspaper serving Lynchburg, Tennessee and the surrounding counties. We also provide news and information for the 350,000 folks who come to Lynchburg to visit The Jack Daniel’s Distillery each year. We are dedicated to public service journalism for the greater good of our community. You can support us, by clicking here.}