Jack Daniel’s Tennessee Honey – The Best of the Best



Dave is a part-time blogger that writes about whatever suits him at the time.

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95 Responses

  1. Avatar Gaelen says:

    “the biggest problem with whiskey is that it tastes like whiskey”

    Truer words have never been spoken.Report

  2. Avatar Glyph says:

    Disclaimer: I like Booker’s. A lot. I had some on Friday, on rocks. It does require care, it is very strong.

    My whiskey bona fides thus established, I will go with the spirit of Dave’s OP and suggest Fireball Whisky, which is cinnamon-flavored.

    Is it for the whiskey purists? No. It tastes just like an Atomic Fireball, with a whiskey hint at the end.

    Does it work well for socializing on a cold night, and will the ladies drink it with you? Yes.

    We had quite a good time, when we had this.Report

    • Avatar Dave says:

      In all seriousness, I thought Burt’s review on Booker’s was great. I did have a chance to try it when I was away over the Christmas holiday and everything he wrote pretty much matched my experience. Without any water or ice, it hits like a ton of bricks, but it’s good. I was able to get some flavor out of it but after four or five sips, I was done with it neat (which I expected to happen anyway)

      I have had only one other barrel strength bourbon: Old Grand Dad 114 (which I am sipping at the moment) and that one is very smooth and very drinkable straight out of the bottle. A little water helps but you don’t need much. Then again, I have a soft spot for rye whiskeys and high-rye bourbons like Woodford, Blanton’s, Old Grand Dad and Four Roses.

      I tried Tennessee Honey once. I spit it out. Disgusting. I haven’t tried the Atomic Fireball but I have friends that like it (not whiskey drinkers). To each his or her own I say, but I do tend to call flavored vodkas the Purple Passion of the 30’s set.

      Speaking of Booker’s, is Booker’s the same mash bill as traditional Jim Beam? I know Knob Creek is Beam Juice aged 9 years and bottled at 100 proof.Report

      • Avatar Glyph says:

        I know it’s made by Beam, not sure about mash bill:


        I actually didn’t realize Knob Creek was made by Beam – that explains why I like that one too (and yeah, I like ryes too – even Beam’s basic standard-issue Rye is good).

        I rarely do neat, since A.) I grew up in the hot-ass South, son, and we put ice in everything and B.) IMO most whiskeys improve with just a splash of water anyway.

        Blanton’s is weird for me. I had a bottle that I would share with guests, and it was OK, but I don’t think it’s anywhere near as good as what they charge; it seems like the packaging is the thing. I much prefer Booker’s (Baker’s isn’t bad either, and is much milder than Booker’s, two helpings of which can knock you on your ass). Woodford and Four Roses are good (I don’t think I have had Grand Dad?), as is Buffalo Trace; and Bulleit is very good for the price.

        Also, I know you are frowning on the flavored vodkas, but they can be fun to experiment with, to come up with the craziest concoctions (and, the girls love this stuff). Pinnacle makes some flavors that are just uncannily like their namesakes, and we combined several once, to make a straight vodka drink that tasted EXACTLY like a birthday cake.

        Here’s another crazy one, given to me by the same friend that gave me the Fireball Whisky:


        It is a flavored vodka, that tastes EXACTLY like peanut butter. It’s a good one to spring on people. That is just not the flavor you expect in a shot. I made some pre-prepped chilled shots of this, with a frozen banana slice and Nutella garnish, and called them the “TCB” in honor of the King (I couldn’t figure out a way to get bacon in there).Report

        • Avatar aaron david says:

          Set it up like a shot of tequila, with bacon replacing the salt.Report

        • Avatar Michelle says:

          Meh. I’m a girl and I hate that flavored stuff. Same goes for flavored coffee. I like my liquor straight and my coffee back, thank you.Report

          • Avatar Glyph says:

            Flavored coffee is terrible, I’ll grant. And the flavored vodkas used to be terrible too, in much the same way – too chemical, and/or too sickly-sweet.

            I don’t know what the scientific advances have been, but there now exist some that are uncannily realistic, and some that are very subtle (for the latter, I recommend the Effen Black Cherry, which also has a note of vanilla, neat or rocks and complemented by your favorite dark chocolate – it is AMAZING).Report

            • Avatar Reformed Republican says:

              I do not care much for flavored coffee with one exception: Hazelnut. It is not something I drink often, but if I am going to flavor my (usually black) coffee, that is the flavor I go with.

              Somehow my son got it in his head that I like French Vanilla coffee, so I tend to get a bag of the stuff for my birthday or Christmas. I do not have the heart to tell him I do not want flavor in my coffee. It is drinkable, but not preferred.Report

    • Avatar Dave says:

      One other thing, I was just away this weekend in Hershey, PA and had the opportunity to try Benjamin Prichard’s Double Chocolate Bourbon Whiskey. It may sound like a flavored whiskey but it’s nothing of the sort. I should write a real review of it as well as one of another bourbon I’m enjoying these days, Jim Beam Black.Report

  3. Avatar Patrick Cahalan says:

    A part of me died, reading this. You can take AFD too far. Too, too far.Report

    • Avatar Dave says:

      You can take AFD too far. Too, too far.

      I have two speeds: fast and stop. Keep in mind that you’re talking to someone that thought training for a half marathon in a very short time frame (20 weeks) would be the best way to get back in shape after years of no exercise. I struggle with the middle ground.

      I’m glad my absurdity caught your attention. My work here is done.Report

    • Avatar Burt Likko says:

      Yes, you can take AFD too far, but I thought this was fishin’ hilarious.Report

      • Avatar Michelle says:

        Me too. I giggled out loud.Report

        • Avatar Patrick Cahalan says:

          I did, and then I realized that someone, out there, not only would be fooled by it, but wouldn’t realize that they were fooled, and would be confused if you told them the post was a joke.

          And then I realized how many of those people there were. And then I got sad.Report

  4. Avatar Peter says:

    I’d have a hard time choosing a favorite whiskey. Wild Turkey is always good, as is Canadian Club. Not too much into Scotch.Report

    • Avatar Dave says:

      I like the Islay scotches and will near turn away a glass of Macallan, but scotches are a lot more expensive (at least the single malts are). For the money, I’d rather go with the American bourbons or the Canadian ryes.

      Which Wild Turkey do you like?Report

      • Avatar Patrick Cahalan says:

        I drank a bottle of Macallan 21 over my bachelor party weekend. I’ve since gotten more fond of the peatier and more complex scotch whiskeys, but I like Macallan more than just fine.

        The Balvenie Doublewood 12 is a great bottle, as is its older brother. They’re both pretty reasonable and they’re not as peaty as the Laphroaigs, if you like a little more subtlety than THIS IS LIQUID SMOKE (not that there’s anything wrong with that, the Laphroiag 10 is my workaday Scotch). The best drink of Scotch I ever had was a swallow of the Ardbeg 1976 at my wedding, but all the Ardbegs are pretty good.Report

        • Avatar Burt Likko says:

          Not too long ago a friend presented the Mrs. and me with a bottle of Jura 21-year-old and HOLY CRAP WAS THAT GOOD.Report

        • Avatar Michael Drew says:

          Other smoky-peaty jobs to try, if that’s your direction (and it’s mine): Talisker; Lagavulin. 10-years are what I’ve had.Report

          • Avatar Patrick Cahalan says:

            I like both the Talisker and the Lagavulin, but I don’t find Lagavulin to be particularly distinct. It’s totally fine, but whenever I have it I’m always thinking, “This tastes like…” (something else). That (something else) is good, but it’s not like Laphroaig or Ardbeg where you say, “Now that’s the droid I was looking for.”Report

        • Avatar Glyph says:

          I have a bottle of the Balvenie Doublewood 12 that I got for my b-day, but I haven’t cracked it yet. Guess I need to do that.Report

      • Avatar Michael Drew says:


        For the money, many good bourbons and ryes beat a number of top-price Scotches, but nothing just flat beats a good single malt that agrees with one’s palate.Report

  5. Avatar b-psycho says:

    I checked out that Kansas Clean Distilled website, and I dunno about that wheat whiskey shit.

    But as far as the myth of aging, I’m coming to their side. I had the opportunity to try some unaged white whiskey (midnight moon brand, to be exact) and to my surprise it seemed smoother than the aged stuff for the strength, at least to me. I ended up drinking it straight, a bit too much straight to be honest…Report

    • My brother (whose appreciation of scotch I cannot hope to match) gave me nothing but grief for liking Bully Boy White Whiskey. But I like it a lot.Report

    • Avatar dragonfrog says:

      A lot of it is in how it’s distilled – a whiskey mash distilled to the technological limits of smoothness is vodka. Leave in more flavour, and you get something that’s not vodka anymore but still suitable for drinking white. Leave in more flavour still, and you get something that requires / benefits from, aging.

      A good white whiskey, left in a barrel a few years, would end up very bland and boring.Report

    • Avatar Dave says:

      I checked out that Kansas Clean Distilled website, and I dunno about that wheat whiskey shit.

      LOL…well, what they sell is Spirit Whiskey and by law, that means only 5% has to be straight whiskey. The rest of it is grain neutral spirits. The irony about linking to Kansas Clean Distilled is because even though what I was doing was a joke, some of the elements I incorporated into my jokes are ideas that they use in their marketing. It’s quite pathetic.

      There’s nothing wrong with wheat in whiskey. Maker’s Mark uses it in lieu of rye in its mash bill. I prefer the rye bite but I’ll enjoy a good glass of Maker’s (I prefer the woodier Maker’s 46). It’s an easy pour.

      But as far as the myth of aging, I’m coming to their side. I had the opportunity to try some unaged white whiskey (midnight moon brand, to be exact) and to my surprise it seemed smoother than the aged stuff for the strength

      I have a Mason jar with about one finger’s worth of unaged white whiskey left inside. It was distilled in the mountains of North Carolina by some cagey ol’ rednecks. The mashbill they used was predominantly corn but they added in some peaches for a little added sweetness.

      I don’t have a beef with white whiskey. I can see why people would elect to sell it. I suppose it’s smoother than some whiskeys out there, but I’m at a point where I like my bourbons with lots of rye and a healthy amount of aging so I want the wood tannins and the vanilla associated with aging. I can’t get that with unaged white whiskey but if you like it for your reasons, there’s nothing wrong with that. It doesn’t give me what I want in a drink.Report

      • Avatar Glyph says:

        Maybe I will try the Maker’s 46, but plain old Maker’s is…well, I will be polite, and say it is not to my taste – I use my Maker’s bottle (it was a gift) for cooking and mixing only.

        Incidentally, these discussions are making me realize it’s maybe rye that I like – I also have had some rye beers that I like, whereas I am generally not too fond of wheat beers.Report

        • Avatar Dave says:

          I have a few friends from the South that take a less polite view of Maker’s, the one that you were probably afraid to share with me. Even a Yankee like myself knows why some people don’t think it’s real whiskey.Report

  6. Avatar Russell M says:

    segrams dark honey has a very good flavor without making you feel like a child for drinking it. my wife will even drink it with me.(chilled in a freezer and poured into a frozen glass, but hey she drinks with me!)

    tried Yukon applejack just the other day. was not expecting to like it due to the fact that i hate Yukon. but had a great appley flavor and made bomb apple cider mix.Report

    • Avatar Dave says:

      I’ve heard that the Seagram’s may be among the best in the flavored whiskey class, but I’ve only had the Honey Jack.

      Have you ever had Evan William’s Apple Orchard?Report

  7. Avatar Reformed Republican says:

    Serious question here, now that it is the 2nd. The only experience I ever had with whiskey was Jack and Coke at a party.
    For an uneducated whiskey virgin, how would I get started? What would be the best ones to start with? Neat? On the rocks? Anything important to make the experience as enjoyable as possible?Report

    • Avatar BlaiseP says:

      Go to any good bar, put a 20 dollar bill on it and give the bartender the opportunity to work your way through what’s on offer.Report

      • Avatar aaron david says:

        And make sure you pre pay for a cab.Report

        • Avatar BlaiseP says:

          Well, here’s the deal. Good whiskey is more akin to good perfume: you’re just drinking it. You don’t need much, not even half a shot in a glass, to know if it’s what you like.

          A good reference scotch is Dewar’s. It’s good but certainly not the finest bottle on the shelf. To understand the good stuff, you need to start with better-than-ordinary but not “the best.” for scotch and other whiskeys vary widely. As with perfume, you will develop distinct preferences. “The best” for one drinker will be overpriced rubbish for someone else.

          Before you get into bourbons, learn scotch first.Report

          • Avatar Burt Likko says:

            Before you get into bourbons, learn scotch first.

            This. It’s the route most people take. Learning Scotch first teaches you to look for flavor within the whisky, how to segregate the alcohol itself from the flavors within the product. Scotch teaches you how to discern smoke and sweet, peat and fruit.

            This is more difficult with Bourbon because Bourbon is made from corn mash, which is high in sugar, and leaves a residual flavor of caramel in the whisky. Which is very pleasant, to be sure. But now you’ve got two layers of flavor to penetrate: the alcohol and the corn.

            And know that as you travel that road, most people usually find a Scotch they like and stick with it. Even as you learn of Bourbons, you will keep your steadfast companion the go-to Scotch around. Eventually, you will settle on some favorites and keep both a Bourbon and a Scotch on the shelf at all times, enjoying a sip here and there as needed and amongst pleasant human company, trading notes and opinions on the liquor in the good spirit of sharing amongst friends.

            As we do here.Report

            • Avatar BlaiseP says:

              Just so. As widely as whiskey varies, bourbon varies even more. Some bourbons I find almost undrinkable. But if you must learn the difference between scotch and bourbon, have the bartender set you up with a half-shot of Wild Turkey 81 in one glass and a half shot of Dewar’s in the other, without knowing which is which.

              Alcohol is merely a transport mechanism for all the interesting, delicious molecules, again, exactly like perfume. If you’re new to either scotch or bourbon, now is not the time for high-proof variants of either.

              First learn the aroma of neat scotch. Take the tiniest sips possible. Learn to drink with ice water back, rinsing your mouth. You’re not really tasting scotch, you’re smelling it. Once you’ve come to terms with its aroma, put a few chips of ice in what remains: a scotch on the rocks is a completely different animal.

              Though Glyph is entirely correct to observe bitters have a good effect, do not go down that road at first. Nor do I advise getting into high-priced scotch at first. I might advise a half-shot of cheap scotch to teach you what not to drink and why not. It’s very nasty but until you’ve encountered it, you won’t know to avoid it.

              And pay no attention to snobs. You can’t drink the label. Let the better sort of bartender be your guide, that, and your own palate.Report

              • Avatar Reformed Republican says:

                I may just have to make plans to visit a good bar this weekend. I have a coworker who likes whiskey, maybe I will see if he is free Saturday night.Report

              • Avatar Patrick Cahalan says:

                If you live in a reasonably large ‘burg, google “Scotch Tasting”.

                You can usually find a place that’s running one.Report

              • Avatar BlaiseP says:

                May I offer a little more advice? Never allow yourself to indulge in the horrid vice of Pounding Shots of either scotch or bourbon. It is nothing short of alcohol abuse.

                Have your whiskey served neat in a proper bar glass, with water and ice back. In this way, you can fish around and add ice to your glass, after you’ve had a sip or two, neat.

                And be sure to tip your bartender well. You’ll be going through a fair number of glasses.Report

              • Avatar Dave says:

                Never allow yourself to indulge in the horrid vice of Pounding Shots of either scotch or bourbon. It is nothing short of alcohol abuse.


                Whatever our philosophical disagreements, if we can agree on this, that’s good enough for me.Report

              • People pound shots of scotch? That sounds… awful.

                However, my shot-pounding days are blessedly well behind me, so pounding shots of any variety sounds like no fun at all.Report

            • Avatar Dave says:

              This is more difficult with Bourbon because Bourbon is made from corn mash, which is high in sugar, and leaves a residual flavor of caramel in the whisky. Which is very pleasant, to be sure. But now you’ve got two layers of flavor to penetrate: the alcohol and the corn.

              I agree, and it even becomes more complicated when we move past the “traditional” bourbon mashbills and move into mash bills with higher concentrations of rye. Things really start to get interesting for me when the rye starts to make its presence known. The corn and the carmel hit me at the front end of the palette and then the rye comes in more towards the finish.Report

            • Avatar dragonfrog says:

              Bourbon is made from corn mash, which is high in sugar…

              Any type of mash or wort starts out high in sugar, and finishes as a beer with very little sugar – that’s how it ends up containing alcohol. Distillers’ beers (as opposed to stuff you’d drink as a beer) all tend to finish up as low in sugar as possible – residual sugars add body to beer if you drink it as such, but are left behind in distillation. So if they end product is a distilled spirit they are just waste that will end up washed down the drain.

              More corn in a mash bill does tend to produce a smoother and sweeter tasting spirit, but I don’t think that’s because of its higher starch (and hence, after mashing, sugar) content.

              A big source of sweetness in bourbon is sugars from the barrel – scotches are mostly aged in used bourbon barrels, from which most of the sugars have already been extracted by the previous tenant.Report

          • Avatar Dave says:

            Before you get into bourbons, learn scotch first.

            This was the route that I first took. I started with some simple blends and moved on to the singles. I spent enough time to get a good feel for them, and then I had my Islay moment. I’ve been there ever since. I have bottles of Talisker 10, Ardbeg 10 and Laphroaig Quarter Cask at home. I don’t drink them that much.

            To understand the good stuff, you need to start with better-than-ordinary but not “the best.”


            With American whiskeys, I started with Jack Old No. 7 and Jim Beam white, Jim Beam White, Wild Turkey 81, Old Grand Dad 86 and Maker’s. I almost immediately moved into the higher proof OGD and Wild Turkey, but I spent a lot of time with all of these.

            “The best” for one drinker will be overpriced rubbish for someone else.

            I wonder how many people that rush to get on waiting lists for Pappy Van Winkle could distinguish it from a cheaper wheated bourbon.Report

            • I love bourbon, but this comment really made me think of gin.

              I’ve tried so many different kinds of gin in my martinis (which, not to brag too, too much, I think I make really quite well), and it is a source of delight to me that the one I prefer is plain old Gordon’s. And I probably would have snobbishly avoided it had I not known that it was the Queen Mother’s brand of choice, and that woman knew her way around a gin bottle.Report

              • Avatar Dave says:

                I take great enjoyment in the cheap bang-for-the-buck whiskeys myself so I know the feeling. I’ll need to do what you did for Manhattans. I’ve only had one and it had Blanton’s (I had just had a glass neat right before drinking it). It was very tasty. I don’t know if I would mix it again, but I didn’t think I lost the character of the whiskey.Report

              • I’m more particular about the vermouth I use than the bourbon. (It’s either Dolin or Noilly Prat.) Right now we’re using Knob Creek, which does just fine.Report

              • Avatar BlaiseP says:

                I am now a tub-thumping convert to Hendrick’s Gin after decades of Gordon’s. I am sure Hendrick’s Gin with a slice of cucumber is the summer drink of choice for the gods atop Olympus.Report

              • I love Hendrick’s, but not in my martinis.

                And I always garnish it with cucumber.Report

    • Avatar Glyph says:

      You will get much conflicting info here (I mostly prefer bourbons/rocks, but scotches and ryes are good too, and some people think adding water or ice are an abomination, though they are of course wrong) so I will go a different direction and recommend you buy a bottle of bitters to accompany you on your journey – whenever you encounter a whiskey that is too alcohol-ish, a couple drops of bitters can round that off and bring out the other flavor notes; when a whiskey is too sweet, a couple drops of bitters can blend & balance the flavors better.

      Magical are the bitters, they can help you salvage a drink or bottle you might not otherwise enjoy.Report

  8. I am so, so embarrassed to admit this (but intellectual integrity demands I do), but I had no idea this was a joke until I read the comments.

    Dave, I apologize from the depths of my soul for thinking so ill of you that I could believe this was sincere.

    A friend gave us a bottle of Tennessee Honey a little while ago. I found that it makes a decent variation on the Sazerac, if you happen to have some absinth handy. Otherwise, it is a cloying, unpalatable horror. I feel like a blasphemer keeping it on the same shelf as my Woodford Reserve.Report

    • Avatar Burt Likko says:

      I too have a gift bottle of it on my shelf. It’s sort of like the Francis Ford Coppola wines people seem to have a penchant for bringing over: “We don’t know much about wines but we know you like wine and you like movies, so it seemed like a good fit.” (Other than the top-level reserve, Coppola wines are not suitable for use in spaghetti sauce, IMO.)

      In a way, though, I’m fortunate to have neighbors less snobby than I about what to do with whisky — whisky’s for drinkin’, damnit! So for them, I mix the JD Honey up with lemon juice and leave out the sugar, and call the resulting concoction a “sour.” Which it is, sort of.Report

    • Avatar Dave says:

      I have to address this first.

      This really made my day in as nice a way possible. I have an ear-to-ear grin. Thank you. We’re good 🙂

      I feel like a blasphemer keeping it on the same shelf as my Woodford Reserve.

      I am consulting with the League’s attorneys in order to determine whether or not this constitutes a violation of the Commenting Policy. 😉Report

  9. Avatar steven gregson says:

    I don’t know what your generation is but I do know that if you think Jack Daniels is good whiskey You don’t know shit from apple butter!Report

    • Avatar Reformed Republican says:

      I would advise you to look at the date the essay was posted.Report

    • Avatar Glyph says:

      Eh, plain ol’ Jack gets a lot of undeserved guff IMO. If you are in a basic bar and you just want a basic whiskey/rocks, it’s perfectly cromulent…the generic, catch-all “Coke” of whiskeys. If that’s what slides down the bar, there’s no reason not to drink it.

      And Gentleman Jack is actually quite good.

      However, this “Honey” nonsense sounds terrible.Report

      • Avatar Patrick Cahalan says:

        Jack Daniel’s on the rocks is a perfectly acceptable way to have one drink. It’s not a good way to start many drinks, though.Report

      • Avatar Dave says:

        I have a general bias towards Jack. I don’t think the Old No. 7 is a good sipping whiskey at all, but it’s fine in mixed drinks. My biggest issue with the company is the prices they charge. That Old No 7 (hell, even Tennessee Honey) has a steeper price tag than Evan Williams Single Barrel, Eagle Rare or even something like Old Grand Dad Bottled in Bond tells me the pricing is out of whack.

        Gentlemen Jack is good, but again, I’ve seen this priced at the same level as Woodford Reserve. There is no way I would choose the Gentlemen Jack over it. In a perfect world, the Gentlemen Jack would get bottled as Old No. 7 at a 90 proof and go out the door with a $22 to $24 price tag (it shouldn’t be more than Jim Beam Black IMO). That would make a great whiskey at the appropriate value.

        To further add to my bias, consider the latest offering from Jack Daniel’s: unaged rye whiskey at a local price of $52.99. The same liquor store sells Whistlepig, a 10-year 100 proof rye for $55.99. If I am going to go into premium prices, I’m going for premium products.Report

        • Old No 7 costs more than EAGLE RARE?!??! (I never buy it, so I never checked the price.)

          *swoons from shock*Report

          • Avatar Dave says:

            I’ve seen JD for $27.99 and Eagle Rare for $26.99. It doesn’t always happen but it does happen on occasion.

            What was insane for me was seeing 12-year old Elijah Craig with a $65.99 price tag. Granted, I was in NYC but I bought my last bottle of that in Ohio for $23.99.Report

  10. Avatar RTod says:

    We’re reviewing flavored whiskey now? Will this be followed by a review of appletinis?

    Seriously, is there NOTHING sacred left on the Internet?Report

  11. Avatar George Turner says:

    The American Distilling Institute published a beautiful and highly informative book called “The Craft of Whiskey Distilling.” Save the PDF to your hard drive so you’ll always have something to read as you sip.Report