Not Easy Finding Green

I come across products to write about in many ways. Usually someone introduces me to it, or maybe I see it at the store or bar and order it out of curiosity. But every once in a while, it comes in an unexpected way.

Such is the case of this week’s article.

My girlfriend is a real estate agent, and one day as she was with a listing client, they let her know that anything left in the house, she was free to take. One of those things left behind was a bottle of Jack Daniels. She, not being a whiskey drinker, turned it over to me. But this bottle had a green label.

Everything else about the label looked virtually the same — just green. So I figured it was some offshoot release that distilleries do from time to time, and I didn’t think much of it. Because I am not a huge Jack drinker, it sat in my home bar for well over a year, hidden by other bottles, and summarily forgotten.

Until one day I was searching for one of my favorites, when I spied it in the back of the bar. I pulled it out, almost forgotten how I ever ended up with it and paid a little closer attention.

What exactly was this green label Jack Daniels?

I tried it neat, then with a large cube of ice, then with a little water. And what I discovered is that it was way lighter and smoother than the black label Jack we all know.

So what is the story? (There is a rumor about the green label being the original, and the black label, a longer aged whiskey, released in honor of Jack Daniel’s death, but it is not true). Turns out, before Prohibition, Jack Daniels was aged for four years before being bottled and sold. So when Prohibition ended, and the distillers began production again, they didn’t want to wait four years to start selling their iconic whiskey. So they released a one year old with a green label instead of black to distinguish the difference.

But, today’s green label is not that low-aged whiskey anymore. In fact, it is aged just as long as the black label. The distinction is the green label is aged in casks exclusively on the ground floor of the rack houses where there is little variation in temperature. This results in a less “aged” taste. While some complexity compared to its black label brother is not present, I found it smooth and mellow over ice as a nice easy sipper.

And if you can find it (Jack does not distribute its green label nearly as widely), it will also be cheaper in price than the original. And because of its “rarity,” it is sought after by many whiskey drinkers. I’m glad I have it.