2022 Oloroso Finished Special Release
Jack Daniel’s limited releases have been impressive in the last few years. From the low entry proof and heavily toasted barrels of the Heritage release, to the exact opposite with the high temps and scorching Coy Hill release. A masterpiece of a bottle with the barrel proof rye, and now an Oloroso finished American single malt seemingly out of left field. These releases surprise and excite!
I am exceptionally fond of oloroso cask whiskies so I was eager to try this one. Thankful to a good friend, we split a bottle so each of us could enjoy. I was skeptical at first but I went in with an open mind. Of the American single malts I have tried, wine casks have always come out on top so this would fit perfectly within my preferences.
Tasted neat in a Glencairn with 10+ minutes of rest. Dilution was added throughout the tasting with additional rest for an hour for comparison. As this is a single barrel release, the proof on my bottle was 53.15% for reference.
Brown sugar, plums, and baking spices on the nose. Allspice, toasted dried ginger powder, and cinnamon spices. Raisins and dried currants. Cereal grains and a touch of vanilla sweetness give it an oatmeal cookie or oat bran muffin quality. Molasses and dark maple syrup. A touch of milk chocolate and malt powder reminds me of Maltesers or Whoppers candy. Almost like a malted milkshake.
The palate starts off with all of that oloroso cask. Dank, grassy, and earthy. A sweetness from the fortified wine but also a tannic and bitter cask char profile I’m assuming from the initial virgin oak maturation. Dried, but not preserved, citrus – like a sliced orange you forgot out on the counter. Oxidized vegetable greens and leafy spinach. Medicinal “raspberry” fruit-flavored lozenge. Lastly, a very, very, flat cola flavor.
The finish comes out strongly with wonderful tobacco and dark cocoa flavors. The first sip is very flat and muted but the flavor intensity builds quickly. Charcoal and barrel cask influences are very noticeable and far less bitter than on the palate. Hints of vanilla and sweetness as the bottle now leans into the earthy and leather oakiness. The more palatable bitterness with only a touch of wine sweetness finishes things off perfectly.
The nose and finish of this whiskey is delightful. The same cannot be said for the palate. It was harsh like a youthful grain whiskey and evident the finish was trying its best to cover up the flaws. While it mostly worked for me, I cannot forgive the palate’s shortcomings.
I enjoy bitterness and balance in whiskies and cocktails. I do not enjoy when that oak delves into a tannic nature, however. I suspect the initial cask maturation was too harsh for the malt used. I enjoy that note in their barrel proof bourbon releases but the mash bill difference makes up for it with the sweetness corn provides.
I did also ruin my perspective a bit as I sampled alongside a similarly aged Oloroso cask Westland that I adored. The difference is in the cask integration being wholly matured versus a lengthy finish. I would really like to sample what the Jack Daniel’s malt tasted like prior to finishing or perhaps in a reuse bourbon cask.
I do applaud Jack Daniel’s for this release but I cannot entirely recommend this whiskey. This is a try before you buy kind of bottle to me.