Jeff Arnett is the Master Distiller at Jack Daniel’s. He is only the 7th Master Distiller of Jack Daniel’s in over 150 years of the brand’s existence, the first one being Jack Daniel himself. So, attending the masterclass was a serious matter for me. Here are the notes:
• Jack Daniels is made from corn and grains. Earlier all whiskey was made from rye, so having a large component of corn was a novelty during the early years of JD.
• Rye tastes of pepper and spice. That’s what a Bourbon tastes like, JD is sweet and oaky.
• JD has copper columns while most modern units are made of steel. Copper acts like a sponge, it removes but does not add anything
• Anything that passes this definition is a whiskey : Grain – Fermentation – Distillation – Barrels
• What does it take to be called a bourbon:
a. At least 51% corn
b. Below 160 proof, globally whiskey has around 189
c. Brand new charred oak barrel, to be used one time only
• Everything that’s true of bourbon is true about JD
• JD is 80% corn, 12% malt/barley, 8% rye
• JD is not a bourbon because of ‘charcoal mellowing’ – 10 feet of sugar maple charcoal that’s used for distillation. At top, the alcohol is heavy and oily, at bottom, it is sweeter and refined.
• The barrels are toasted and not charred. That makes a huge difference. Toasted means held over fire but never burnt.
• Gentleman Jack goes back into charcoal second time and that’s the only difference from the standard version. Charcoal kills the bitter and apple tastes.
• Angel share: the part that evaporates from a barrel while ageing. Normally, industry average is 18%. During making the JD Single Barrel edition, almost 30% evaporates
• Barrels don’t have a big role to play in scotch. It is only used for vinting.
• Grains don’t play a big role in scotch.
• No one knows what the Old no 7 on the bottle means.
• JD was a small name until Frank Sinatra openly declared his love for the brand.
We had a tasting and I got a certificate too. See below for the show off.