Getting to Know Jack Daniel’s at an Exclusive Tasting

It’s been cold and rainy in Nairobi this October, which is perhaps the best weather to acquaint oneself with a bottle of whiskey. 

Jack Daniel’s Tennessee Whiskey held a private tasting session with their East African Brand Ambassador David Mwangi who took those in attendance through the several JD brands. Yes, several. 

David took our minds and senses on a journey starting with the vanilla and caramel notes of the Jack Daniel’s Old No.7 to the sweet and fiery Jack Daniel’s Tennessee Fire. 

In total, we tasted five Jack Daniel’s varieties, learning what makes each of them distinctly different from the next.

From David’s presentation we learn quite a bit about what makes Jack Daniel’s, Jack Daniel’s. The distillers try their best to stay true to the methods used by Jack  or Jasper Newton himself in 1866. 

The sophisticated and knowledgeable brand representative first tells us the main ingredients of the whiskey which are corn, rye and malted barley. We also learn about a special process called charcoal mellowing -whereby after distillation in copper stills, the mixture is filtered through to remove impurities. Another unique difference employed by the Jack Daniel’s distillers is that they store their whiskey in fresh unused oak barrels. The last nugget that caught our attention is that the distillers do not focus only on time when it comes to maturation.

“A number of things help decide how long a barrel of whiskey stays in the barrelhouse, including the barrel itself and where it rests in the barrelhouse. Whiskey on the upper floors of the barrelhouse, where the temperature changes are more extreme, tends to be more mature than whiskey of the same age on the cooler, lower floors of the barrelhouse. That’s why we believe age is an unreliable way to determine when a whiskey is ready.”

Through the tasting it was actually so easy to pick up different elements of everything we tried. The Old No.7 which is mellowed through 10 feet of sugar maple had a clean and creamy finish but was not our favourite to have neat. The Gentleman Jack goes through the same process as the No.7 twice and it was more crisp and clean. The winner for many was the Jack Daniel’s Single Barrel Select . This whiskey is selected from ONE barrel in the uppermost warehouse locations. It had a warm and lingering finish. Lastly we tried the Tennessee Honey; a blend of the whiskey and a honey liqueur and Tennessee Fire that has cinnamon liqueur.

After the tasting, vibrant networking and conversations ensued at The Chat Room in Kilimani where we also got to sample some bitings from their menu.

Drinksember is just around the corner and the Jack Daniel’s whiskies should be on your tables as you make merry.

LL is a writer based in Nairobi who previously loved attending and writing about the pop culture scene, Nairobae events, and cool Kenyans doing cool things. Especially Kenyan women. Currently, she's relearning and exploring beauty and fashion stories in the country.