Kentucky and Tennessee are America’s biggest whiskey producing states. Even though their production styles may differ, both states create outstanding whiskey. Here’s a user-friendly guide to Tennessee Whiskey.
Tennessee Whiskey adheres to the same guidelines as bourbon with regards to mash bill distillation, age, and barrel aging. To produce Tennessee Whiskey these rules must apply: It must be made from at least 51% corn. Only new American oak barrels may be used wherein the whiskey must age for a minimum of two years. It must be bottled at nothing less than 80 proof (40% abv). Bourbon and Tennessee Whiskey are very similar, except that the latter goes through an additional step called the “Lincoln County Process”.
The “Lincoln County Process” which sets Tennessee Whiskey apart from bourbon, is the process of dripping the newly made spirit or “white dog” through sugar maple charcoal. This is done to mellow the whiskey before it goes into the barrel and it creates a drier, softer flavor profile than most bourbons. This process also creates predominant flavors of caramel and vanilla while allowing subtle hints of licorice to harmonize in the background.
There are only two whiskey distillers left in Tennessee namely George Dickel and, of course, the iconic Jack Daniel’s.
Jack Daniel’s produces four types of Tennessee Whiskey:
– Jack Daniel’s Green Label: This soft entry-level whiskey is only available in certain states and has obtained itself quite a cult following among Jack Daniel’s enthusiasts.
– Old No. 7 or Jack Daniel’s Black Label is the flagship of the brand. It is one of the top selling spirits in the world, famous for being soft and mellow with overtones of licorice.
– Gentleman Jack: This premium brand is put through the “Lincoln County Process” twice to ensure ultimate smoothness.
– Jack Daniel’s Single Barrel: This robust, full bodied, 94 proof spirit is the only single barrel Tennessee Whiskey on the market today.
George Dickel produces three types of Tennessee Whiskey:
– Dickel #8: This 80 proof (40% abv) whiskey has been described as light in body with strong vanilla and caramel flavors.
– Dickel #12: At 90 proof (45% abv) it smacks of vanilla and rich oak with a drier, more assertive taste.
– Dickel Barrel Select: This is an award winning small batch Tennessee Whiskey. Only 10 barrels are blended per year and aged for between 10 to 12 years to ensure a smooth and balanced taste.