If you watched the movie Magnolia, you may be familiar with the Darwin Award. But if you’re not, I’ll explain. The Darwin Award is a sort of posthumous Oscar, which rewards individuals who have managed, though total lack of intelligence, to remove themselves from the hereditary human chain in a spectacularly idiotic way. That is, they killed themselves in stupid ways.
Like the American, for example, who, bothered by the sound his pickup was making, decided he would try to find out where the noise was coming from under the vehicle – while driving at 40 miles per hour. Or the Texas teenager who played Russian roulette with a semi-automatic pistol. Or Brazil’s own contender for this prestigious award, the ‘priest of the balloon’ – a Brazilian Catholic priest, who died during an attempt at cluster ballooning on April 20, 2008. There is even an expression “as crazy as the ballon priest” which meaning explains itself.
What most people don’t know is that there is a very famous person who could also well have received such a prize – Mr. Jasper Newton “Jack” Daniel, the illustrious creator of the most consumed American whisky in the world. According to history, Jasper had a safe in his office. One fine day in his frustration at forgetting the combination he kicked it hard. His nail broke, toe became infected and gangrenous, and the lovely gentleman ended up dying of septicaemia at the age of 61.
Despite his simultaneously tragic and prosaic death, Jasper’s legacy continued and Jack Daniel’s has become the best known American whisky brand in the world. Currently owned by giant Brown-Forman, the distillery celebrated its 150th anniversary in 2016 and to mark the date released a special edition Jack Daniel’s 150th Anniversary.
There is, however, a detail here: Although Jack Daniel’s celebrated 150 years, the distillery’s operation has not been continuous. In 1909 Tennessee became a dry state and the distillery only reopened in 1933. In spite of this twenty-four-year hiatus, Jack Daniel’s has been produced for one and a half centuries on its original site.
Jack Daniel’s 150th Anniversary is produced in a similar way to its brother Jack Daniel’s Old No. 7. It’s mash bill is the same, 80% corn, 12% barley and 8% rye. The charcoal filtration – known as the Lincoln County Process – is also the same. However, Jack Daniel’s 150th Anniversary has a higher alcoholic content of 50%. Additionally, according to the brand, the whisky undergoes a significantly different maturation process.
The distillate is placed in slowly charred virgin American Oak barrels – whatever that may mean – that were especially developed for this expression. The whisky matures in one of the oldest warehouses in the distillery. In Jack Daniel’s own words: “After being filled, the barrels are placed on the top shelves (known as the Angel’s Roost) in one of the oldest rooms, where whisky has been matured for generations in an elevated position with exactly the right exposure to the sun that creates the perfect climate for one of the best whisky-cask interactions.”
The result is a sweet and smooth whisky with much more pronounced vanilla and caramel than in the standard version. The alcohol content also helps, adding a welcome potency and a very spicy, but not too aggressive ending. It’s a well-finished whisky and undeniably carries the genetic essence of Jack Daniel’s.
In Brazil, a bottle of Jack Daniel’s 150th Anniversary costs around R$ 520,00 (five hundred and twenty Brazilian reais). That makes it the most or second-most expensive whisky available here, along with the Jack Daniel’s Sinatra Select – also a limited edition. Compared to the later, Jack Daniel’s 150th Anniversary is not only more alcoholic and spicy, but also in the Dog’s opinion, a more interesting option.
Jasper Newton “Jack” Daniel could well have died in an unexpectedly stupid way, but his distillery on the other hand, seems strong and healthy after a century and a half and fit to survive for longer. So, let’s make a toast to these and the next hundred and fifty years of Jack Daniel’s.
JACK DANIEL’S 150TH ANNIVERSARY
Type – Tennessee Whiskey
ABV – 50%
Comments on taste:
Aroma: sweet, caramel, brown sugar, vanilla
Flavour: sweet, fruit syrup, vanilla, honey, spices, lasting aftertaste, with vanilla, black pepper and spices.
With water: the mix with water makes the aftertaste sweeter and shorter.
Price: Approximately R$ 520,00 (five hundred and twenty Brazilian reais).