Jack Daniel’s to release unaged rye whiskeyBy Becky Paskin
Jack Daniel’s has announced its long-awaited entry into the American rye category with the release of Jack Daniel’s Unaged Rye.
The whiskey is not only the first time Jack Daniel’s has formally released a “white dog”, it is also the first release by the Tennessee distillery to use a new grain bill in over 100 years.
Containing a combination of 70% rye – 19% above the legal minimum for a rye whiskey – 18% corn and 12% malted barley, the white spirit has gone through Jack Daniels’ signature charcoal mellowing process, resulting in a taste master distiller Jeff Arnett describes as spiced, natural and complex.
Jack Daniel’s Unaged Rye will only be available in the US, with an initial December launch in select retail outlets in Tennessee, before an exclusive rollout into other US markets in January 2013.
“We feel that whiskey enthusiasts and Jack Daniel’s aficionados alike will enjoy discovering the new and unique tasting experience that Jack Daniel’s Unaged Rye offers,” said Arnett. “And we hope that they’ll remember that, as good as this new offering is – it’s just a taste of what’s to come.”
Jack Daniel’s has hinted at its intention to release an aged rye expression in the near future, although a bottling date has not yet been released.
“We’ve produced just a little bit to experiment around and let some mature in case should this be a long term offering,” Arnett explained. “We’ve done a couple of rounds of it and from that we’ll decide whether or not we officially enter ourselves into the rye market.”
Jack Daniel’s Unaged Rye is the first white dog produced by the distillery since the months following Prohibition. Back then the master distiller Lem Motlow released young versions of Jack Daniel’s to the public before a fully-aged product was available for sale.
“It was a less mature, lesser quality spirit. Because of that Lem named it after himself to protect the Jack Daniel’s name; he became the fall guy by putting his own name to a cheaper bottle of whiskey, but he needed to make money and sell something.
“He put out a 6-12 month product along the way while inching back up toward getting something that was of a character that people would have remembered as Jack Daniel’s pre-Prohibition. For me, the barrel is still one of the finest things you can do to a white dog.”
Wary of experimentation
Arnett added that the distillery has been wary of getting carried away with experimentation, to refrain from altering the general public’s perception of Jack Daniel’s and its core offering.
“Jack Daniel’s has a unique quality where we are similar to a bourbon but not quite. One thing we have to consider if we do a rye is that we become like everybody else and we are enjoying having this spot over here by ourselves. You don’t want to go and mimic the number two seller when you’re the first.
“We have to be careful what we do with the Jack Daniel’s name because when we do something it’s going to mean more than if someone smaller did it.”
Arnett told The Spirits Business he has been looking at producing a rye expression for the past two years, but had held out to ensure his own product remained unique in line with the Jack Daniel’s brand.
“Rye was the predominant form of whisky prior to prohibition in our country. It has a long history but afterwards people’s interest in rye went away and bourbon took over. We are producing a whiskey that’s more in the vain of bourbon today, but there’s no doubt it’s a different type of product. We don’t have to chase fads; as a brand we want to be very methodical and make sure we stick it out there.”
Jack Daniel’s Unaged Tennessee Rye will be available in a 750ml bottle with an RRP of US$49.99.