What is Gentleman Jack? Just about every American of age can spot the distinctive black-and-white bottle of Jack Daniels Tennessee Whiskey from across a bar. Tennessee Whiskey, technically a subset of bourbon which is defined as straight bourbon whiskey produced in the state of Tennessee, is advertised by the companies that make it as distinct from bourbon due to a charcoal “mellowing” process. Much as Irish whiskey in the mid-20th century sought to distinguish itself from Scotch by changing the spelling of ‘whiskey’, bottles of most Tennessee whiskey do not include the word ‘bourbon’.
The Lincoln County Process (Tennessee whiskey was previously a product of Lincoln County, Tennessee) involves the percolating of new-make spirit through a thick layer (up to 12 feet) of American sugar maple charcoal. This process, essentially a natural charcoal filter, removes some of the harsher alcohol flavors and some volatile esters from the spirit (some might argue it also removes some flavor). The whiskey is then matured in American white oak barrels in the same manner as bourbon.
Despite all the marketing nonsense aimed at bourbon consumers who are seeking more luxury products, Gentleman Jack is simply Jack Daniels whiskey which is filtered through the layer of charcoal twice. I’m not personally a fan of regular Jack Daniels whiskey, as it provokes in me the dreaded “shudder” effect. Here’s what I thought of Gentleman Jack:
Nose: Warm, sweet notes of cherry, pink peppercorn, orange peel, and charred fruitwood.
Palate: Medium body – like soft water – vague top notes, with perhaps some anise, black pepper, and something vegetative, like raw sugar cane.
Finish: Of medium length, mostly creamed corn and root beer hard candies. Clove and cinnamon left on tongue.
Overall: This reminds me of plain old Knob Creek, perhaps because of the warming cherry tones and muted sugars. I will admit freely that this tastes smoother and better than Jack Daniels’ regular offering. If you’re a Jack fan, give this a try, but there are plenty of better American whiskies available on the market at similar prices.