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Jack Daniel’s No. 27 Gold Tennessee Whiskey Review

Jack Daniel’s No. 27 Gold Tennessee Whiskey Review

Jack Daniel’s has a certain penchant for releasing multiple versions of their standard Tennessee Whiskey in different “limited edition” labels. Rarely has the difference between them been anything more than superficial. But their loyal fanbase doesn’t seem to care. They continue to make Jack the most popular (based on sales) whiskey brand that comes from the United States.

Jack Daniel’s No. 27 Gold changed the status quo by introducing one of the first examples of a secondary barrel finish to the famous Tennessee Whiskey brand. This project was headed by Jeff Arnett who was the Master Distiller from 2008 to 2020.

No. 27 Double Barreled gets its start

I mention this a lot when I do a review of anything from the Brown-Forman family of brands, but when one of their distilleries puts out a new idea, the other two generally follow suit sometime in the near future. I don’t know this to be a fact, but Jack Daniel’s No. 27 Gold was likely influenced from the recent creation of Woodford Reserve’s Double Oak Bourbon which was released in 2012.

That release proved the concept of aging whiskey in a second barrel for mass production. This was likely the inspiration behind Jeff Arnett experimenting with a double-barrel finish for Jack Daniel’s. Straight-up copying Woodford’s new smash hit would be a little too “on the nose,” so he worked with the Brown-Forman cooperage team in seeing what his options were. It turns out that they had the ability to craft barrels out of maple wood – a concept that had surely been done by someone in the past but never for commercial whiskey production.

Jeff spent 2013 and 2014 experimenting with the maple wood barrels to determine the exact length of time that was needed to extract the flavor profile he liked. The other side to the experiment was seeing what proof the whiskey should enter the finishing barrel at. Finally, the idea came up at some point in the testing phase that the Tennessee Whiskey should be subjected to another round of sugar maple charcoal filtering before being put into the maple barrel.

No. 27, how it’s made

The final formula sees matured Jack Daniel’s (4-5 year old) Tennessee Whiskey dumped out into a vat and put through another stack of sugar-maple charcoal. After it’s collected at the bottom, it is proofed down to 100 proof. That’s 25 proof points less than it was put into the original barrel at. Then it is put into a custom maple wood barrel for an additional 6 to 12 months for finishing. By the way, the reason why this bottle uses the “No. 27” on it instead of “No. 7” is because the 2 is supposed to signify a second barrel was used in the maturation process. Weird, right?

Some of you may wonder why they chose to proof down the Tennessee Whiskey before entering it into the maple barrel. This is actually common among Brown-Forman finished whiskies. Woodford Reserve Double Oaked (and Double Double Oaked), Old Forester 1910 (and 1910 Extra Aged and Extra Extra Aged) and The 117 Series Scotch Cask Finish have all lowered to 100 proof before being put into the second barrel. The reasoning seems to be that the additional water content will more readily dissolve the wood sugars and anything else that was in the barrel beforehand. The results speak for themselves in a sweeter, more mellow whiskey once it’s finished.

The one question I haven’t been able to answer is “does the maple wood barrel get toasted, charred or both?” My gut tells me it’s both, but Jack did release a Maple Wood Toasted Barrel finished rye whiskey in 2022 that were only toasted, not charred. So I guess anything could be possible.

When it was complete, Jack lowered the proof down one more time to 80, bottled it up into either 750 or 700ml bottles (the latter for foreign and duty-free markets) and also gave it a shiny gold box. It’s very similar in presentation to the Sinatra Select bottle and packaging. Only the topper is much more luxe with a brass finish with an eagle holding a sign that says “Gold Medal Louisiana Purchase Exposition.” What?

The price was anywhere between $100 and $130 USD. For a period of time from 2015 to 2018, it seemed like this was a travel exclusive or available in east Asia/Australian markets. Then Jack allowed it to be sold domestically.

Rumors abound that the No. 27 Gold has been canceled by Jack Daniels. They began around 2021 after Arnett’s departure. But it’s still listed on Jack’s website as of 2024 and there have been sightings of it on store shelves this year, too. So it’s anyone’s guess what the status is.

Now that you know the backstory, let’s find out how it tastes. I sampled this neat in a glencairn.

Tasting Notes

Nose: True to form, I’m smelling a lot of maple notes immediately. I was wondering if it was going to be closer to maple syrup, but I don’t think so. It’s more like a faint breakfast-cereal maple scent. There is also heavily browned caramel right alongside it. It goes without saying the nose is more candy sweet than deep and rich. Fruit notes are few and far between aside from a very light hint of banana. Vanilla bean and light cinnamon give it a soft touch with a hint of spice. A very light toasted nuts note also develops later into the dram. It’s basically classic Jack with a splash of maple and extra sweetness.

Taste: The first sip is sweet and somewhat thin. Maple and caramel transfer over from the nose giving it a nice base. But the supporting cast of flavors doesn’t exactly inspire confidence. I’m finding a small amount of wood, but it seems more like the maple is the cause of that rather than the oak from the first barrel. Vanilla, banana and cinnamon powder follow in quick order. A small amount of savory pecan pralines can be detected as well. It’s almost a crime how much the flavor has been washed away here in an effort to bottle this at 80 proof.

Finish: The finish can be described in two words: Short and Sweet. That’s about it. There is no burn (just like the rest of the experience showed me) and the finish trades a typical banana finish with one centered around maple and maybe a little bit of honey. I also detect a bit more residual vanilla, but no bolder notes like wood or cinnamon can be found.

Score: 5.5/10

This was a drink that didn’t exhibit any obvious flaws while also not being able to dodge its biggest one: namely, the lack of proof. I’d kill for this to be bottled at least 90 proof (with 100 being amazing, I bet), but sadly we won’t get that from Jack. Well, someday we might if they release a bourbo…errr, “Tennessee Whiskey” version of their Distiller’s Series finished in a maple barrel kind of like they did with their rye whiskey. Until that time, this is as close as we’ll get.

I view maple wood barrel finishes as a great idea for the future of the industry. It imparts maple notes that aren’t as sickly sweet as some brands’ “Maple Syrup Finished” bourbons. This is the perfect amount of maple and it deserves to be tried in other products.

Final Thoughts

I was under no illusions that this bottle probably wouldn’t be my cup of tea. It’s clearly designed to gift as a present to a person who says they like whiskey or Jack Daniel’s, but isn’t a true enthusiast. All of that is fine, the industry needs to supply products like this to those kinds of consumers. But an enthusiasts’ whiskey this ain’t. So if you were thinking you needed to track one down because you were missing out on something – or maybe you’re just a “completionist,” then I’m telling you that your money could be better spent elsewhere.

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