Jack Daniel’s whiskey is hardly ever difficult to find, but the brand’s annual Single Barrel Special Release collection is so highly allocated and fervently sought after that it defies those expectations. It also treads the road less traveled in that, aside from their Distillery Series, Jack Daniel’s Special Releases have represented some of the wildest experiments to come from the brand. Whether it be in the form of hazmat-proof Tennessee whiskey and rye, or American Single Malt finished in Oloroso sherry, fans of Jack Daniel’s Special Release collection have come to expect the unexpected. For 2023, those fans can rejoice and welcome the fifth unique expression in the series: Jack Daniel’s Twice Barreled Special Release Heritage Barrel Rye.
Marking the second consecutive year that Jack Daniel’s has opted to release a twice-barreled whiskey, what makes this one different is that it showcases Jack Daniel’s increasingly eye-catching rye finished in heavily toasted heritage barrels. (What constitutes a “heritage barrel” is never fully revealed.) Featuring a mashbill of 70% rye, 18% corn, and 12% malted barley, Jack Daniel’s Twice Barreled Rye is charcoal-mellowed and aged in American new oak barrels for at least 5 years before being finished for more than two years in lightly charred and heavily toasted heritage barrels from Jack Daniel’s cooperage. The idea behind those light-char and heavily toasted barrels is to caramelize the barrel’s wood sugars with minimal char filtration which allows the liquid to pull them out more readily.
Once you pour this whiskey, you might do an immediate double take as the aroma of spiked hot chocolate comes wafting out of the glass. That’s not the only surprise, as pink bubble gum and subtle rye spice follow in its wake before freeze-dried strawberries and a hint of coffee bean emerge as well. After swirling you get the more familiar aroma of brown sugar along with a marshmallow note that also tends to be common with toasted barrel whiskey.
Curious about how it tastes? Jack Daniel’s Twice Barreled Special Release Heritage Barrel Rye is an elegant whiskey that features a soft and silky mouthfeel and packs a lot of flavor in its modest 50% abv. The freeze-dried strawberries, mint leaf, and oak influence all come out swinging on the first sip as the dense liquid coats the palate and slowly dissipates allowing milk chocolate, Aleppo pepper flakes, almonds, and roasted marshmallow flavors to find their footing. While the finish is a bit dry, thinning out after repeated sips, you’d be hard-pressed to find many contemporary 100-proof whiskeys capable of delivering as much complexity as Jack Daniel’s has managed to achieve here.
At $75 this bottle is both a great value and yet another stunner in the Jack Daniel’s Special Release lineup. It ain’t as easy to find as Old No. 7, but for anyone able to track it down, you won’t be the least bit disappointed.