Thursday, July 10, 2014

Dusty Thursday: Jack Daniel's 90 Proof (Circa 1974)


Jack Daniel's Old No. 7 has been around for years, but the proof has gradually dwindled.  Originally, it was bottled at 90 proof.  In 1987, it went down to 86 proof and then in 2002 it dropped to the legal minimum of 80 proof.  Today's dusty is a 90 proof Jack from 1974.

Jack Daniel's Old No. 7 (circa 1974), 45% abv

The nose is sweet with maple syrup and perfume notes.  Compared to the sweet nose, the palate is surprisingly dry with oak, smoke and tobacco.  The finish is peppery/spicy leading to medicinal notes.  Yum!

This is really delicious stuff, a far cry from the syrupy sweet JD of today.  If this is what Jack used to taste like, it makes me understand how it built such a loyal fan base.  It's got bold flavors like spice and tobacco and some real complexity.  I feel like I should go back in time Terminator-style and stop whoever was responsible for turning this stuff into the cloying, 80 proof crap it is today.


12 comments:

Jody said...

No Brown-Forman funk?

sku said...

You know, Brown Forman used to make really good stuff. The old Old Foresters are excellent. Somewhere in the '80s or early '90s, they lost their way.

William Segui said...

Is the decline due solely to diminished proof? Has age also slipped over time?

Tim Read said...

@William,

I did a bunch of Jack Daniels tastings last year. There's definitely a distillate quality issue compounding things. Older Brown Forman can be outstanding (see President's Choice). Newer bottles -- Angelo Lucchesi in particular -- definitely have something, but it isn't a quantum leap above standard black label. I thought Silver Select was a hot mess.

That said, I've had some good Single Barrel releases, but nothing astonishing. It's out there to be found, but it's all a far cry from what Brown-Forman was producing ~40 years ago.

Anonymous said...

Brown-Forman discovered it is more profitable making widgets than whiskey. And all of their widgets are crap.

sku said...

William, I think it's more than proof, but it's hard to know what has changed. Entry proof? Age? We don't know because they've never had an age statement but it stands to reason that during the glut years, JD was working with a glut the same as everyone else, so it might be an older whiskey.

Sam Komlenic said...

Their print ads used to boast that Jack was "90 proof by choice." Now it's whatever they can get away with.

A sad decline for a proud brand whose followers now are concerned only with the label on the bottle, not what's inside.

kaiserhog said...

I loved JD 90 proof, liked the 86 proof, but the 80 proof is strictly a mixer. I've switched to Dickel 12 as my sipper. It is still 90 proof.

Gary said...

I've got a bottle of Jack Daniels 1915 Gold Medal, which I purchased from the distillery back in 2005. Haven't popped it yet, but from what I gather it is a higher proof version of the standard no. 7. Do you think it would be comparable to the one you just opened?

sku said...

Gary, I can't speak to that bottle since I haven't tried it, but I've had some more recent higher proof JDs that mostly taste like regular JD to me (though a little stronger). There is something more than proof going on.

They may have made changes in the production and/or they may have been using older whiskey, which was common in the 1970s when there was a whiskey glut.

Gary said...

Thanks, Sku. Appreciate the insight!

mike gaebelein said...

From my guess having been drinking jack more than anything until a few years ago, I'm guessing that the entry proof went waaay up and age went way down to the minimum and the final nail in the coffin was the minimum proof. The final result is the hot mess you see today.