In September 2020, before Brexit actually happened I managed to order a bottle of Jack Daniel’s Barrel Strength in the UK. Shipping was made impossible and due to Covid induced travel restrictions, I only got that bottle in my hands about three weeks ago.
Now, in the meantime, Jack Daniel’s Single Barrel Barrel Strength had become quite available in The Netherlands as well, whereas when I ordered the bottle it was just nowhere to be found.
With the bigger Jack Daniel’s bottle share I did in the meantime, I had another bottle of the same product line, but from a different cask, and a different year of bottling. This one wasn’t empty yet, so I did what whisky nerds are supposed to do: I pitted them against each other.
Now, this brings us in the weird territory for bottlers and distilleries. Because on one hand, the greater audience wants product consistency, and these whiskies should be quite similar, as to appease the fans of it. On the other hand, you’re doing a single barrel product and therefore consistency is a bit skewed by default. Brown Forman, the owner of the Jack Daniel’s brand could lean in to either one of these angles.
I started writing tasting notes, but there’s not really a point to be made here apart from ‘one is enough’. These whiskies are very, very similar with the main difference being that cask 20-06226 is slightly sweeter than cask 17-5610.
The second one, 17-5610, had an interesting note of grilled tomatoes that was a new thing to me.
Generic tasting notes are:
Very sweet pastry note, with brioche and banana. Corn flour with quite a bit of boozy heat.
Massively sharp with lots of peppery heat here. Banana bread sweetness, with corn flour and chilli peppers.
The finish mellows quickly, compared to the palate. Some charry oak, popcorn and a gentle sweetness.
The differences would be on the palate and finish. The 17-5610 has that grilled tomato note, which I didn’t find on the 20-06226. The 20-06226 has more of a caramel popcorn note on the finish, with 17-5610 not showing that caramel.
However, the differences are very very minor and these whiskies are incredibly similar. An achievement from a production standpoint, but quite boring for the geeks like me…
Now, of course this is based on a single comparison, but with three years between one and the other regarding the release date, there should be a bit more happening. Unless we just happened to stumble upon highly similar barrels!