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Gentleman Jack Whiskey Review

This, interestingly, may be one of the top five requests for review that I get. What can you say about the good Gentleman Jack? Why don’t we start with a little background.

First, despite what many think, it is not a requirement that all Tennessee Whiskey undergo a charcoal filtration process (known as the Lincoln County Process) in order to be called Tennessee Whiskey. Unlike bourbon, regulations and standards for calling something “Tennessee Whiskey” are very loose at best. However, most associate Tennessee Whiskey with the charcoal filtering largely because the two biggest producers of “brown water” in my home state, Jack Daniels and George Dickel, follow this process. In previous reviews I’ve discussed the differences in the way Jack and Dickel do this. Let’s run through this one more time.

George Dickel chills their distillate down before passing it through large vats of charcoal sandwiched between giant wool blankets. Jack Daniels does not chill their distillate down, instead allowing the distillate to be filtered right off the still. Both of these processes take a hell of a long time (trickle by trickle), and one is not right or wrong. They are both just different approaches that yield two very different flavor profiles. Jack Daniels, from Old No. 7 on up through Single Barrel has a much smoother, cleaner front entry (front of the palate) on the sip than George Dickel. Sip them side by side and the differences will jump out at you.

How does this process of filtration affect flavor? When a distillate comes off the still it contains substances called congeners that do a number of things. They CAN add off flavors to the spirit if the spirit contains certain types of congeners. They can also add stronger, more pronounced desired flavors to a whiskey. Over time, the barrel the whiskey is aged in does a number on these congeners, softening and rounding them out through the expansion and contraction of the wood. The barrel can also filter some of them out as well.

The charcoal filtration process gives the distillate a bit of a head start. Charcoal is a natural filtering agent, absorbing stronger congeners to help ensure the finished product is as smooth as possible. However, charcoal doesn’t have a dial on it allowing you to, “only filter out the bad stuff”. Because of this – you do lose some of the body and impactful flavors from the distillate. This is one of the knocks on this process.

What if you charcoal filtered a whiskey twice you might wonder. Well, you’d have Gentleman Jack. That’s exactly what the Jack Daniels Distillery does to make this very smooth, clean whiskey. Let’s give it a test drive……..

Gentleman Jack Whiskey, 40%abv/80 proof, $29
Color: Deep Golden Amber
Nose: The nose is the absolute highlight of this whiskey. Cinnamon red apple, vanilla, honeysuckle, floral fragrance, toasted oak, and dry corn husk.
Palate: Vanilla, corn, mildly spiced honey, golden raisin, and prickle of pepper. It comes off extremely thin and watery on the palate.
Finish: Light, and clean as a whisper. There’s a tinny note on the finish along with corn and moderate oak.
Overall: As noted, the nose is incredible, but it’s a bit of a letdown from there. The palate is diluted and lacks concentration of flavor. Let’s understand however that this whiskey has been filtered twice. It’s designed to be a clean, smooth whiskey. Execution was extremely well done in that regard. And while this is definitely good whiskey, for flavor hounds there is so so much better out there for the money.
Sour Mash Manifesto Rating: 7.5 (Good/Solid)

25 Comments

  1. Ben says:

    Such a coincidence you reviewed this one now, as I picked up a bottle of this for the first time last week. I completely agree with your analysis, although I could swear I got a hint of cherry in the nose/palate somewhere. It’s pleasant enough whiskey but I don’t think I’ll be buying it again. After awhile the excessive sweetness from start to finish becomes a problem also.

    What’s the deal with the new no.7 bottles by the way? They look like table legs to me. I liked the old ones.

    You’re closer to the distillery than the rest of us Jason, go sort ‘em out! :-P

  2. Vince says:

    Jason, nice review (of which I agree). When I went through the Woodford Reserve Bourbon Academy, Chris Morris mentioned that Gentleman Jack was really designed for women. The barrels are selected from the bottom of the rickhouse (with the Single Barrel selected from the top). The name also plays on the suggested market (although apparently he was no gentleman:)

  3. Dave in Oklahoma says:

    Not bad…but a little to sweet for me.

    Dave in Oklahoma
    Go Sooners!!!

  4. Alan says:

    GJ is a good smooth pour. Does what it’s designed to do…smooth and easy drinking. True, it’s not for a flavor hound like you suggested Jason. But, obviously it’s not meant to be bold. Hard to beat for a summer night pour. Like a good old friend you can trust. It’s got a place in my cabinet.

  5. Alan says:

    Let me also add…admittedly-as your palate matures, you’ll gravitate towards more flavorable pours (I do love Bookers!). But, still a damn good TN whiskey!

  6. Vince, I meant to get back to you on this. This makes perfect sense to me. It’s extremely light and I could see why they would be catering to a softer palate. Thanks for the info and contribution as always!

  7. Ron says:

    Great review. I have never tried Gentleman Jack, only regular Old Number 7, which is a good whiskey. Sounds like it has the same sweet qualities Jack is known for. I’m a Kentucky native and so I have to favor our bourbon over Tennessee whiskeys, but I respect Jack’s tradition and staying power. I think Jack is good for mixing. One thing I do not get is why they watered down Old Number 7 to 80 proof. Since Gentleman is 80, why not go back to tradition and raise the proof of Number 7 back to 86 or even 90 which it used to be? Do you think they would do this? Maybe it was a marketing thing. All that being said, while I’d take my bourbon any day, Jack hold its own in the whiskey category.

  8. sam k says:

    Ron, there was a time when the print ads for Jack Daniel’s read, “90 proof by choice.” That mantra gave way to the first modern dilution of the product to 86 proof, and eventually to the 80 proof (legal minimum) you question today.

    To me, it comes down to whether any distiller has a focus on product integrity and their customer, or whether they’re ultimately driven by the bean counters and the balance sheet.

    When the lowest common denominator in a given product has finally been achieved, the answer becomes obvious. The Jack and Coke drinker doesn’t give a hoot, and it wouldn’t make a difference if it was Jack in that glass of Coke or a whiskey costing substantially less…it’s more about image. I’m glad there are plenty of other options for the consumer who is product-focused instead.

  9. Ben says:

    Hi again,

    Something I saw tonight reminded me of Vince’s comments. I was in an ASDA store here in the UK (Walmart affiliated) and they have just introduced Gent’ Jack bottles that have a gimmick to do with gent’s tailoring. There is an advert on the bottles that suggests that if you buy one you can enter a competition to win some kind of special tailor made suit. Don’t know how much you know about London but ‘Savile Row’ is a pretentious clothing reference here that refers to a famous shopping area for gent’s suits in the city. There is an obvious attempt to attract male drinkers. This completely contradicts Vince’s post about women being the main focus, so I thought it was interesting. I wonder if anything similar has happened in the US? A very interesting development. Maybe they want men to drink it after all?

  10. Ben, I think they definitely want men to drink it. They want everyone to drink it. But I believe Vince’s point was just that it was created to appeal to women. What happens from there however is organic. It is very interesting though. Thanks for the comment!

  11. John says:

    Gentleman Jack was made in the 80s to attract the female demographic to Jack Daniel’s. They’ve done a good job at that, and to be honest any time someone comes to me saying they want to get into whiskey I direct them to GJ. Whiskey on Training Wheels. Yes, I can see why some would be put off by it, there’s very little character. But it’s an easy choice if you just want something smooth to sip on.

  12. John, thanks for the great comment. And I agree – it’s an excellent starter. It’s gentle and easy going.

  13. Molefi says:

    I have always been a drinker of Jack Daniels original old no.7…lately the Gentleman is taking over. Its that smoothness airy flavour that does it. Your review further aserts my growing passion for the double distilled whiskey that is Gentleman Jack

  14. Jimmy Z ATL says:

    I can’t bring myself to buy Jack Daniels no 7… I need a whiskey that is at least 8 years aged… That being said… GJ is a fav of mine. Great for mixing with colas… it’s no Rare Eagle or Woodford Reserve, but it’s a great whiskey to pick up at the corner liquor store. Very smooth.. does the trick. Though if I was drinking straight… I would need a much more flavorful whiskey.

  15. John D says:

    I can go for the smoothness of GJ to the bite of Old Grandad 100proof, and all browns in between. Just got a bottle of the JD white rye. You want to talk about complex! Good stuff though.

  16. Josh says:

    Just finishing off a bottle of first generation Gentleman Jack, from 1988 or 1989 and it is a far more substantial whiskey than what’s being made now. Big, rich and velvety in texture, with just enough sweetness. Incredibly long and spicy. Sad to see it go but it was a nice ride.

  17. Jay says:

    I have to agree with Josh. I have been drinking GJ since the early 90′s and it has changed dramatically. It is still my go to whiskey on Christmas as it is a tradition in my family, but I tend to find stronger whiskeys a better purchase.

  18. RicH. says:

    All I know is that for the last 3 plus decades it has always been JD for me. Then I discovered that I can drink much more GJ and not have the effects so many call a hang-over. I have tried Single Barrel and it was good, but I actually prefer GJ and drink it exclusively as my hard liqour. Now, to give you all a good laugh, I mix with Mug Root Beer! A habit I learned in college that made 151 taste like a root beer float! Since then I have rejected colas and avoid caffeine, so the root beer stuck.

  19. Josh says:

    Bourbon and root beer is a great drink and absolutely better than Bourbon and Coke. Try the root beer from Sprecher’s, if you can find it. Goose Island (yes, the brewery) also makes an excellent root beer, as does Boylan’s. As for mainstream versions Dad’s is my favorite since childhood but it isn’t that easy to find outside the south. And for cola, the best I’ve had is Fentiman’s. Not sure that I’d personally want to mix GJ (strictly financial concerns) but I’m sure that it would make an incredible cocktail.

  20. Mark says:

    A buddy of mine introduced me to Gentleman Jack and a little bit of ginger ale back around 1990. Over the years, the amount of ginger ale has declined. This is a fine whiskey to me.

  21. Snow says:

    I creamed in my panties when I 1st tasted it OMG soooo nice want more now talking about it

  22. luke says:

    I’m not going to argue to flavor, i just see the bigger picture. yes i love jack (get that out of the way) if your a fan of sweet hard booze , you chose right, count me in,but…i could’ve payed a sum less for the same quality , and being an alcoholic (i admit) one could have the same fun and buy that pack you’re trying to quit. point being… dont let the dillusion of arrogance wipe your wallet, girls will get drunk regardless… back to the point. it’s a tasty booze . buy it. DONT think its cool to buy it all the time work on your brain instead.

  23. ed. widener.. says:

    I got GJ as a gift from my son,Zack, and it is a good whiskey. Bur I perfer Black Jack or Green Jack when I can find it…By the way is GJ a sour mash whiskey ?.No one I ask seems to know ?

  24. ed. widener.. says:

    Is GJ a sour mash whiskey ?…I like it, but I like Black Jack and Green Jack better.

  25. Energy says:

    Snow your comment just turned me on. Sn: not a bug whiskey drinker but when I do I prefer gentleman Jack.

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