Introduced in the year 1988 – over a century since the distillery last introduced an expression to their existing portfolio; the Gentleman Jack was poised to sit a notch higher than the Old No. 7 giving customers an opportunity to experience something more premier and upscale. These first generation bottles were initially sold exclusively within the United States, looking nothing like the Gentleman Jacks we are so accustomed to. The more popular, unmistakable design was introduced only by 2007 – after quite a few cosmetic mods and a few generations of bottle designs.
The contents of the Gentleman Jack goes through a similar charcoal filtration process just like the Old No 7 and also involves an additional filtration process after being matured in Virgin American Oak barrels. The folks at the distillery are quite tight lipped about its age and although you do see several forums mentioning them ranging between four and six, what is sure is that its contents are over two years with more mature spirits blended in from barrels housed at various levels of the warehouse.
The bottle itself is butch and very Gentleman like – broad curved shoulders, tapering towards the bottom; well shaped edges with a rather bold cylindrical bottle cap and a black strip beneath which seems to embody a bow-tie. The flat face allows maximum exposure to the whisky minimizing any effects of refraction, showcasing its true, rich amber hue. I do however feel the thick, rather wide, flat sides might also pose a risk if it were to harbor moisture, minimizing friction making it more prone to slip.
ABV : 40%
Eye: Deep Copper
Nose: Vanilla fruit cake, caramel, honey and brown sugar with over ripe banana peels interleaved between cardamon, aniseed, and charred oak. Although not prominent you do sense a mild citrus note along with corn, cherry and some dried hay.
Taste: A blend of caramel, char, honey and wood combined with ripe bananas and some spice – licorice, cinnamon, pepper and nutmeg.
Finish: Medium finish- sweet caramel with the signature spice.
The Gentleman Jack is a more mature, subtle, refined version of the ‘Old No 7’. It’s not as rough around the edges, nor as ‘yeasty’ as its younger sibling, but does however share that characteristic JD spice. The whisky exhibits such a wide spectrum of sweetness coupled with an abundance of spice that leaves the palate quite content.
Having said that, it isn’t starkly different from the Old No. 7 and that in a way is a slight disappointment. The second filtration perhaps?! Taking away some of that complexity which might have otherwise introduced more breadth into the whisky. But having that, the Gentleman Jack is a good whiskey, but is it a great one? I’ll stay mum here…
At 40% ABV, the whisky isn’t harsh and so can be easily sipped neat without the need for any water. The ever so famous ‘Jack and Coke‘ might also be well worth the try and for all you know you’ve now got a more enhanced version of it in your tumbler. If cocktails are what catches your fancy, the official website (and many others too) have quite a variety on display, so feel free to give them a shot!