Jack Daniels and Jim Beam introduce white whiskeys
White whiskeys are becoming more prevalent, but they still aren’t very popular. Can Jack Daniels or Jim Beam bring them to the main stream? I’m not sure even these powerhouse distilleries can make it happen.
Jack Daniels recently announced their new “Unaged Tennessee Rye.” Before you rush down to the comments to inform me that if something isn’t aged it technically isn’t whiskey, I’m well aware of that and just don’t care. The majority of products casually referred to as “white whiskey” are unaged spirits, and I’ve never been one to get overly technical with the Guyism audience. We’re all friends here.
What’s more notable is that Jack created a new mashbill for the first time since your grandpa was stealing whiskey from his dad’s liquor cabinet. They’ve upped the rye content from 8% to 70%, which I believe is higher than Wild Turkey, the brand most well known for their high rye mash. Unfortunately that’s not the only bill that’s gone up. This new(tral) spirit will go on sale in January for the ridiculously high price of $50. That makes me think they’re making a limited amount on the road to an aged spirit and know the white whiskey will sell if for no other reason than rarity. I’m all for charging what the market will bear, but I can see any other justification for it.
Jim Beam’s “Jacob’s Ghost White Whiskey,” on the other hand, is a true white whiskey. It’s aged for at least year in white oak barrels, so all you whiskey snobs can just relax. It’s then filtered, hopefully through Brita pitchers, to remove as much color as possible. The result is a very young spirit that should have been able to snag some great flavors from the wood. I wouldn’t be surprised to see this stand out against just about all others. Ghost hits shelves in February, and at $22 it isn’t that cheap, but it’s certainly more palatable than $50.
The thing to realize about white whiskey is that it has traditionally come from craft distillers that needed to pick up some cash while their livelihood sat lazily in barrels in the back room. It’s understandable from a business standpoint, but never really makes for a great product. While I did find an exception at FEW distillery, I’ve rarely been a fan of the category. I haven’t tried either of these yet, but I think they both have potential to become a great spirit in their own right instead of just the precursor to the real deal. I’ll be sure to update you once it actually hits my lips.