People often refer to Jack Daniel’s as a bourbon. But it isn't.
It’s a Tennessee Whiskey and it says so right on the bottle.
Not that being called bourbon is bad. Bourbon-Whiskey is made according to a very high standard of quality. A standard that Jack Daniel’s meets and then does it one better.
By law, a bourbon must be made in America. Jack Daniel’s certainly qualifies here, being crafted in America’s oldest registered distillery.
A bourbon’s grain bill must be at least 51% corn. Jack meets that as well. Using a fine grade of yellow corn in its mash. And a bourbon must be distilled at no more than 160 proof, or 80% alcohol by volume. Jack is well under that. It comes over the still at 140 proof, or 70% alcohol.
After that, a bourbon must enter the barrel at no more than 125 proof, or 62.5% alcohol by volume. And Jack does that just as well. About those barrels...bourbon must be matured in new, charred-oak barrels. Jack too only uses its barrels one-time. Because it's with the first fill that a barrel imparts its most intense flavor and character.
Bourbon must also be bottled at no less than 80 proof or 40% alcohol by volume. Jack Daniel’s Old No. 7 and Gentleman Jack are both 80 proof or 40% alcohol. While Jack Daniel’s Single Barrel is more robust in character and flavor and is bottled at a higher proof.
Unlike some other whiskies, bourbon contains no artificial coloring or flavoring. The same is true of Jack. Nothing artificial. We draw all of our color and most of our flavor from our barrel.
So what's the difference?
Jack meets or exceeds bourbon standards on every point. So why isn’t it a bourbon? Because it does one thing more.
Before barreling, we send our clear whiskey on a painstaking journey through the charcoal mellowing process. Drop by drop, it crawl through our handcrafted charcoal at a pace dictated by gravity and nothing else. The trip takes 3-5 days to complete and once it's done, the whiskey is transformed. Some might even say blessed.
It's that extra step that imparts the distinctive smoothness folks expect from Jack Daniel's. And part of what makes our whiskey what it is - a Tennessee Whiskey and not a bourbon. And it's that extra step that make Jack Daniel's unique.
One sip and we think you’ll agree.