The Jack and Coke; A Tenderfoot’s Whisky and Cocktail
The Legendary Collegian’s official sanction is that whisky should be enjoyed straight. This is a ridiculous product with an amazing amount of flavor, history and science behind it. We drink it straight because at room temperature and with no additives, the innate tastes and aromas of this incredible product are accentuated. They will bellow at our palate instead of a subtle whisper behind ice, sugar or carbonation.
Having none or near to no experience with whisky and suddenly deciding that you will enjoy whisky straight is masochism. At this moment, as an amateur writer, I insert some sham and common placed metaphor related to walking before running.
SEE ALSO: A History and Whiskey Debate
Appreciating whisky is a process. And this process has certain practical thresholds. The introductory stage is the whisky cocktail. The Jack and Cokes, Jameson and ginger ales, Seagram’s 7 and 7 ups and so on. The flavor of whisky will be carried to you on the crutch of sugar and syrup. This is muted somewhat when we upgrade to whisky with a splash of soda or soda option. Ascension to the third level, whisky on the rocks, is dramatic as you begin to only dilute your whisky with melting water instead of sugar. You can decrease the dilution by graduating to the next level and enjoying your whisky with a single ice cube instead of many. The whisky pinnacle is to enjoy your whisky neat. A naked whisky will tell you a story that seems both intuitive and revolutionary at the same time– like a book you have never read before but the glorious message is a friendly neighbor to your insides. Whisky neat, with the first sip will justify beards, stoicism, pipe tobacco and a healthy distrust of strangers. With that first taste of neat whisky, the devil himself will aspire to sobriety out of apprehension because, ‘Oh shit, HE is drinking.’
The Legendary Collegian says; adding 2 to three drops of water to your whisky neat will release aromas and taste not available neat. This procedure will also demonstrate that you understand whisky and appreciate a dynamic spirit as opposed to coca cola with a splash whisky.
I am an arrogant man. Frequently this misconception in the mirror leads to my social compromise on hilarious occasions. In addition, just like any reasonable man, I appreciate a bright smile above amazing cleavage. My last year at my university I was at our unofficial Greek bar and said smile and cleavage was behind the bar and asked my drink order. After an exhausting game of ‘Fuck me, where’s the whisky?!’ I recognized Canadian Club’s bottle and ordered as much on the rocks. My “bartender” was dumbfound, outwardly (and inwardly) blind as I was just short of taking the bottle off the shelf with my feral gestures at the white label. She had no notion what I was talking about. Eventually I convinced her that Canadian Club did in fact exist, and when I thought victory at hand, she proceeded to fill a plastic sample cup fullway with ice and halfway with whisky. And because I am a weak, weak man, I still tipped her well.
Assess what type of bar experience you are participating in and the experience of your bartender before you order. Whisky is not respected behind a liquor license until the establishment has a menu with a single malt scotch division and a double malt scotch subdivision. Most of the bars that we can geographically and financially frequent will only be able to adequately serve a whisky cocktail or a whisky with a splash. The best way to foster a whisky education is to buy yourself something not associated with Jim Beam or Jack Daniels and enjoy it alone or in small company.
The Inebriate Economist says; Beam Incorporated also makes Maker’s Mark products. The Jack Daniels distillery is a part of the larger Brown Forman Corporation which also makes Woodford Reserve products. The former listed whiskies are delicious and are nothing to be guilty about. But we encourage you to explore outside of these commercial products and experience some independent distilleries like Four Roses, Heaven Hill, George Dickel (quality Jack Daniels) and Buffalo Trace. In addition, the best understanding of a whisky’s quality is the age. This is because the longer a whisky is aged in a charred oak barrel, the richer and deeper the flavor. Jack Daniels is only aged for four years and Maker’s Mark five– relatively young in the whisky world and close to the aging of bottom shelf whiskies.
The whisky cocktail is the introduction to whisky preparation. And Tennessee whisky is the gateway whisky to the whisky world. Jack Daniels and most Tennessee whisky is an undemanding spirit. If rye whisky is a loaf of rye bread, and bourbon a loaf of corn bread, than Tennessee whisky is a loaf of angel food cake. Tennessee whisky is the sweetest style of whisky available. The legal definition of Tennessee whisky is that it is a “straight Bourbon Whisky authorized to be produced only in the State of Tennessee” (NAFTA). It is ‘more southern’ bourbon.
The only distinction is a ‘charcoal mellowing’ process where the whisky is filtered through a ridiculous amount of sugar maple charcoal. That is the same tree that maple syrup comes from. Tennessee whisky is the brunch condiment of whiskies. What this process does is remove impurities (called conginers in a liquor discussion) leaving a very clean and very sweet whisky. And this is the brilliance of the marketing of Jack Daniels, The words used to reference this process are very appealing. Why wouldn’t you want a cleaner whisky? Impurities sound yucky and the idea of charcoal mellowing sounds bad ass. I concede that charcoal mellowing does yield something unique to bourbon, but Tennessee whisky has not perfected whisky with charcoal mellowing. Conginers are not dirty ‘impurities.’ They are the flavor that gives whisky its distinctive profile and experience. Jack Daniels is the vodka of the whisky world as they try to sell the smooth sensation of their production as opposed to a flavor.
In summation, the Jack and Coke and Jack Daniels are adequate as a beginning to whisky. But we encourage you to explore whiskies that Bluto and Kesha don’t binge in Animal House and Tik Tok respectively.
Here’s to you,