What is it that makes Jack taste like Jack? What’s the real difference between Tennessee Whiskey and Kentucky Bourbon?
The simple answer, according to the Jack Daniel’s website, is that Jack Daniel’s is charcoal mellowed.
Charcoal mellowing is the process of filtering whiskey through sugar maple charcoal before putting it into the cask for maturation.
The first step in charcoal mellowing is to “burn the ricks.” This is the burning of the sugar maple wood in order to convert it to charcoal.
The charcoal is then ground and used to fill a large 10 foot vat. It’s in these vats that the filtering will actually take place.
Once the vat is filled with charcoal, the whiskey is added. After 10 days, the filtering process is complete, and the whiskey is ready for its stay in the distillery’s hand made white oak barrels.
White oak barrels
The barrels used to age Old No. 7 are hand crafted from the white oak trees surrounding the Jack Daniel’s Distillery. After carefully choosing the best tree for the barrel, it is cut into barrel staves. The inside of the staves are then scorched and browned, bringing out the natural sugars from the wood. Once completely, the barrel is the ideal place for the whiskey to mature.
While the charcoal mellowing gives the whiskey its smooth taste, the color, finish and distinct flavor of Jack Daniels comes from the time it spends aging in the barrel.
Mellowing the whiskey through the sugar filter has been tradition at the Jack Daniel’s distillery since Jack Daniel himself was still alive. While time consuming and costly, in the end, it’s completely worth it – to both the distillery and its loyal customer.