By: Zach Johnston • Nov 15, 2021 • Read the full article here
There are a lot of great things happening in Tennessee when it comes to whiskey. While the conversation about Tennessee whiskey has been dominated by George Dickel and, of course, Jack Daniel’s, there is so much more going on now with new brands and those old-school classics changing up their own lines. It’s an exciting time to follow and drink Tennessee whiskey, and that’s why we’re blind-tasting some of our favorites below.
The keyword there is “favorites.” We’re not tasting every single Tennessee whiskey on the shelf. We’re tasting six Tennessee whiskeys that we dig. Three of these TN whiskeys are sourced. The other three are made and bottled under their own labels. One of them was one of my favorite whiskeys of the year back when I tasted in the early summer. Will it still stand up? Let’s find out.
Our lineup today is:
George Dickel Bottled-in-Bond, Fall 2008
Nelson’s Green Brier Sour Mash Tennessee Whiskey
Uncle Nearest 1884 Small Batch
Bib & Tucker Small Batch 6-Year-Old
Heaven’s Door Redbreast Master Blender’s Edition
It’s a small but powerful grouping of whiskeys. Let’s see which one comes out on top!
Part 1: The Tasting
#5 Tasting Notes:
The nose on this one is huge with meaty dates next to rich marzipan, worn leather, sweet Gala apples, dry cedar, and bright red cherries. The palate has this vanilla and eggnog latte vibe with a walnut background until the mid-palate comes in with a moist and heavy vanilla pound cake bespeckled with poppy seeds next to orange-infused marzipan covered in dark chocolate that leads towards a hint of dry cherry tobacco and a final note of chocolate-covered raisins.
Part 2: The Ranking
Heaven’s Door Redbreast Master Blender’s Edition — Taste 5
The juice in the bottle is Heaven Door’s low-rye 10-year-old Tennessee bourbon. They take that whiskey and fill it into Redbreast whiskey casks that had previously aged Irish whiskey for 12 years. After 15 months of final maturation, those barrels are vatted and slightly proofed down with soft Tennessee spring water.
This wasn’t a surprise at all. This expression is damn near perfect. It’s so deeply hewn with pronounced flavors that feel like coming in from the rain and sitting next to a warm fire. This is a stellar whiskey.
Part 3: Final Thoughts
I think the biggest surprise for me today was the Gentleman Jack scoring so high. I really didn’t think I liked that whiskey that much. That’s why I love these blind taste tests, you’ll always be surprised what you pick and don’t.
As for the rest, I wasn’t overly shocked. That Heaven’s Door expression is just pure fire. It remains one of my favorite pours of the year for sure — as does the Dickel. I guess I have to say that I was a bit surprised Uncle Nearest didn’t rank higher given all the awards love it receives. But it was just a bit thin for me today. Maybe I’ll put it up against only other small batches next time and see how it fares. Until then, I’m going to be sipping on that Heaven’s Door.