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)

Old Forester Bourbon Review

I just returned from vacation with three new reviews ready for this week. Unfortunately there won’t be video accompanying them, but we’ll be back to the vids starting next week. First up on the review front is Old Forester Bourbon. 1512 Barbershop Rye and Very Old Barton (BIB) are up next. Cheers!

Old Forester Bourbon has been around a long time, since around the 1870’s in fact. Produced by Brown-Forman in Shively, Ky, Old Forester’s 72% Corn, 18% Rye, and 10% Malted Barley is the same mashbill used for Woodford Reserve and Old Forester Birthday Bourbon, two bourbons I rated quite highly. There is no age statement on the bottle, but this one is around 4+ years in age and at a great price point. So how does it fare?

Old Forester Bourbon, 43% abv (86 Proof), $15

Color: Medium Amber

Nose: The strength of this whiskey – caramel corn, ripe apricot, wood spices, earth, and barrel.

Palate: Corn, caramel, vanilla, a diluted fruitiness, and a pinch of cinnamon/nutmeg spice – all encapsulated by a sturdy oak veneer.

Finish: The finish is moderate in length with dry oak asserting itself mightily, along with some bitter char, and a faint caramel sweetness struggling to bust through.

Overall: This one starts with a bang – the nose is very good and presents numerous layers, especially for a whiskey at this price point. The flavors on the palate however lean a bit towards pedestrian. The sweetness, fruit and spice never quite assert themselves as much as the oak influence on the palate. However, considering the price point, Old Forester packs some value in that simple bottle.

Sour Mash Manifesto Rating: (7.9 Good)

Critical Beach Business

I am heading for a week vacation to beautiful Charleston, SC – Isle of Palms to be exact. But don’t fret, I’ve got a couple of new reviews in the queue that I hope to have out over the coming week.

One is a great new unaged rye from a small distiller in California called 1512 Barbershop Rye. It’s one of the best unaged or “white” whiskeys I’ve had – fruity, crisp and full of great rye character all at the same time. Stay tuned for that.

In addition I have a little value bourbon faceoff between Very Old Barton (Bottled in Bond) and Old Forester.

I hope you all have a great week, and please forgive me if I’m a little late to respond to comments.

Drink your whiskey!


Angel’s Envy Bourbon Review

Angel’s Envy is a new Bourbon Whiskey from industry veteran, Lincoln Henderson. As the retired former Master Distiller for Woodford Reserve, Lincoln has done some fantastic things for bourbon and American Whiskey. It’s also interesting to note that three generations of Henderson’s are involved with Angel’s Envy. Their first release is upon us so let’s discuss it.

What makes Angel’s Envy different? It’s a bourbon of at least 4 years of age (reportedly around 5-7 years) that’s been batched and then finished in large port barrels (or “port pipes”) imported from Portugal. After the bourbon takes a slumber in the traditional charred new oak barrels, it’s dumped into the port barrels until Lincoln deems it ready for bottling (reportedly 3-6 months). The result is one of the fruitiest and effortlessly drinkable whiskeys on the market today.

Angel’s Envy Bourbon, $44, 43.3%abv (86.6 Proof)

Color: Deep copper /Russet

Nose: Incredible aromas! Intense Maple Syrup, sweet corn, vanilla, candied dried fruits, rum soaked berries, and gentle oakyness.

Flavor: Maple syrup, corn, dates, raisins, and clove coat the palate. There’s a ripe plum/grapey flavor that adds a fresh fruitiness.

Finish: Sweet maple, toffee, hints of soft spices, and a lingering fruitiness remain.

Overall: Angel’s Envy is a fun whiskey to sip and savor. It’s ever so smooth, sweet, and fruity – definitely one of the best pours I’ve had this year. The nose for me is the star of this show – a real masterclass. It may be just a tad light on the palate, which has me anxiously awaiting their (reported) barrel strength release at the end of the year. Regardless, this is mighty fine bourbon. Highly recommended.

Sour Mash Manifesto Rating: 9.0 (Outstanding/Superb)

Note: Sample provided by Angel’s Envy

Woodford Reserve Bourbon

Woodford Reserve, 45.2% abv (90.4 Proof), $30/bottle

Color: Deep Amber/Copper

Nose: Wonderfully comforting with butterscotch, toffee, crisp green apple, Christmas mulling spices, lightly dry oak, and barrel. Sweet, rich nuances with bracing freshness.

Palate: Old fashioned butterscotch candy, maplye syrup, buttery popcorn, toasted oak, cinnamon, flinty minerality, and fresh, crisp green apples.

Finish: Moderate length, cinnamon, apple cider, and some bitter oak tannins remain.

Overall: The mouthfeel is a little thinner than I expected it would be considering it’s partially copper pot distilled. Perhaps a higher proof might help that and thus would carry the flavors and drill them home a bit more forcefully. I think with a little more texture, this bourbon would be elevated nicely. But even still, this whiskey has some wonderfully comforting flavors and aromas. I love the really intense butterscotch flavors – perhaps the most pronounced I’ve had with a bourbon. Highly recommended.

Sour Mash Manifesto Rating: 8.5 (Very Good/Excellent)

Old Forester Birthday Bourbon 2010

Old Forester Birthday Bourbon 2010, 47.5% abv (95 Proof), $40/bottle

Welcome back Birthday Bourbon. Well, to be truthful it never went away, but recent offerings have been sub standard in comparison to earlier years. The 2010 release is right up there with some of the best from this limited edition product. That same deep red, amber color yields a big and rich nose of vanilla custard, clove, nutmeg, dark brown sugar, ginger, candied citrus peel (orange), and dried fruits. The oaky nuances are there, but never overpower the nose – love it! In the mouth, Birthday Bourbon assures with wonderful winter spices – clove and nutmeg, hot ginger, brown sugar, vanilla, raisin, and bitter orange. Sounds like the best the fall/winter has to offer doesn’t it? Again the oak is there but well integrated and a supporting character in spite of the fact this whiskey spent 12+ years in the barrel. The finish of this whiskey is superb – long and lingering hot and spicy with the bitterness of orange, sawdust and wood. Old Forester B-day is a fantastic pour of whiskey just in time for the holiday season.

Sour Mash Manifesto Rating: 9.3 (Superb/Outstanding)