In my ongoing mission to make The Screaming Artichoke a well-rounded, interesting way to wind down a Sunday evening, or ease in to work on a Monday, I have lately been in search of new and exciting things to cover. When the lovely Roxy Jacenko from renowned Sydney PR agency Sweaty Betty put a call out on Twitter for food bloggers, I jumped right on the band wagon. Lucky I did, because in the (e)mail moments later was an invitation to an exclusive bloggers only session with Jack Daniel’s Master Distiller Jeff Arnett, only the seventh to be bestowed with the title in the brand’s 146 year history.
Arriving at the Byron Kennedy Hall at the Entertainment Quarter, it was clear Jack was in the house. With preparations for an event brewing, we were seated at an exclusive table for 8 to sample some of the best Jack has to offer.
Arnett, who is only a “talking head” 50 days of the year, otherwise overseeing the day-to-day manufacturing operations, meant business when he sat us down in front of three tastings and got stuck in to the facts. JD prides itself on catering to the “LDA to DND” market, that’s “legal-drinking-age to damn-near-dead” in layman’s terms. Founded in 1866 in Lynchburg Tennessee, the product is distilled in American White Oak barrels which are made in-house and charred for colour and flavour. 150 million bottles of the stuff are sold each year, unsurprising if you consider the state of the global economy and the sweet, sweet (if only temporary) relief a good nip can provide.
We try three different products, Gentleman Jack, Single Barrel and Old No. 7, the most common of the few. With a smokey, full-bodied flavour, a balance of sweet vanilla caramels and an oak finish, Single Barrel is by far my favourite. A surprise reveal at the end of the session allows us the chance to try Tennessee Honey, a 70 proof liqueur combining Old No. 7 and honey produced by a local label (I tried to find it but shall have to wait for the official release from Jack Daniel’s as it proved more difficult to find than I expected), this is the first new release from the brand in a generation.
Arnett recommends trying an Irish-style coffee using Tennessee Honey (soon to be released in Australia), and suggests an “Apple Jack” (Jack Daniel’s and apple juice) or “Ginger Ale Jack” as ways to incorporate Jack where you might not already. Personally, I draw the line at using Jack instead of vanilla (with a 3-1 ratio, to match the sweetness) in cooking, but I always love a new way to increase the alcoholic content of a meal, and may very well give it a go one of these days.
Unfortunately the canapés to match cater more for the meatier market, but all of the whiskeys are gluten free, and a rather fine looking take-home box with a selection of the three main samples more than makes up for it. I personally love a tasting, and the chance to be one of the first in Australia to try Tennessee Honey means we shall be looking out for it when it hits the shelves later this year. I hear the party was also a scream!