It seems Jack Daniel’s is capitalizing on momentum after successful releases of their Bonded and Triple Mash whiskeys in 2022, both of which carried bottled-in-bond designations. While on a recent trip to their Lynchburg, Tennessee distillery, company reps told me both releases received better-than-expected responses from consumers and critics alike.
Now, the Brown-Forman owned whiskey giant is rolling out a new Bonded Rye, which will replace the 90 proof version currently on shelves. Like their other bonded expressions, Jack Daniel’s Bonded Rye will be distributed in the 700ml format.
This first release comes from the Spring 2016 distillation season, and Master Distiller Chris Fletcher said in a private tasting that virtually all barrels in the final blend made it to a full seven years of maturation. The mash bill is Jack’s standard for rye: 70% rye, 18% corn, and 12% malted barley. The whiskey is then charcoal mellowed, Tennessee-style, before being barreled.
With a suggested retail price of $32, they’re clearly taking a swing at the market with an affordable, multi-purpose product targeted at both bars and individual consumers. Fletcher went so far as to say the company extended the bottle’s neck so it would be easier for bartenders to grab and pour.
Let’s see how Jack Daniel’s Bonded Rye stacks up.
The nose starts off big with immediate rye spice, but notably, it’s not overly vegetal like higher-rye mashbills often produce. It’s warming with cinnamon, cloves, allspice, and a hint of nutmeg. There’s fruit aplenty as well, with a classic note of dried banana (which is a common note for me on Jack Daniel’s products).
Those aromas are coupled with a faint underlying sweetness, like caramelized sugars from cooked or even charred fruit. The entire nosing experience is a bit like bananas foster with a hefty drizzle of spiced cream.
On first sip, that sweetness hits right out on the tip of the tongue, and some bolder-than-expected fruit flavors then move through to the midpalate. There are both dried and stewed fruit elements here: apricots, peaches, and plantains. The spice kicks in later, but not incredibly deeply. The intersection of fruity, sweet, and slightly spicy (even tangy) is reminiscent of gobbling down a handful of Mike and Ike candy. (Though to be fair, the Bonded Rye has a far superior mouthfeel!)
Something that immediately struck me: This whiskey carries baking spices across the tongue with a complexity and intensity that far outclasses Jack’s outgoing 90 proof rye.
At the finish, spice — more cinnamon and nutmeg — builds even more and starts to dominate. The liquid isn’t leaning into overly hot territory, but it’s certainly showing its 100 proof (if not finishing just slightly above). There’s a little bit of nuttiness, walnuts specifically, folded in among that spice and heat. The finish starts to lose those lovely fruit notes, a relatively minor mark against an otherwise impressive offering.
Jack Daniel’s Bonded Rye is a worthy addition that immediately enhances the distillery’s bonded lineup. This release is going to please bartenders and customers alike, both on the rocks and in mixed drinks. And don’t let its competitive pricing fool anyone: This is more than good enough to enjoy neat.
A- / $32 (700ml) / jackdaniels.com