If one of your winter indulgences is a shot of whiskey in hot apple cider, then you will love what Jack Daniel's has done in Winter Jack. Produced in Lynchburg, Tennessee, this spiced apple cider liqueur uses the famous Tennessee whiskey as a backdrop. It's a seasonal release that appears in late fall and offers a great flavor experience that will appeal to many drinkers, even beyond the brand's devoted fan base.
- Ingredients: Jack Daniel's Tennessee Whiskey, apple cider, spices
- Proof: 30
- ABV: 15%
- Calories in a shot: 73
- Origin: Lynchburg, Tennessee
- Taste: Spiced, apple cider, soft whiskey
- Serve: Warm and straight, on the rocks, cocktails
What Is Jack Daniel's Winter Jack?
Winter Jack is labeled as a "Tennessee Cider." While it does have a Jack Daniel's Old No. 7 whiskey base, the flavoring brings it back into the world of liqueurs. To get technical about it, it's best classified as a "spiced apple cider whiskey liqueur."
According to the brand, Winter Jack is "based on an original family recipe from Jack's home in Lynchburg, Tennessee." It does have that old-world charm to it with its warm, inviting aroma and the inclusion of "holiday spices" (presumably cinnamon, nutmeg, allspice, and the like). Unlike many other "apple whiskeys" this one tastes like real apples, not the sweet and sour stuff that has been so common for years.
Winter Jack follows suit with Jack Daniel's other flavored liqueurs like Tennessee Honey and Tennessee Fire, which are impressive as well. Unlike those, this bottle clearly states that it contains caramel. Don't let that throw you off because it is not as sweet or syrupy as other whiskey liqueurs that use the ingredient. Winter Jack is bottled at a mild 15 percent alcohol by volume (ABV, 30 proof).
This is a very nice bottle of whiskey-based cider and, quite honestly, one of the best among its competitors and other seasonal releases. Winter Jack has been a regular in the Jack Daniel's portfolio for quite a few years and you will only be able to find it from October through December. Hopefully, the brand continues to bring it back year after year.
What Does Winter Jack Taste Like?
Unlike many other "apple whiskeys," nothing about Winter Jack is overpowering and that is a relief. This is a very mild, well-flavored apple cider liqueur that is a joy to drink from start to finish.
Possibly the most surprising aspect is how few of the signature Jack Daniel's notes are in it. There is a definite emphasis on the cider liqueur rather than the whiskey. That adds to its appeal, especially for those who are not big whiskey drinkers.
The pale-golden liqueur has a nose of soft cinnamon and red apples, accented by sweetened notes of honey. The palate itself is an experience because it begins very soft and apple juice-like, eventually growing into a tart apple with the spices making their appearance very near the end. The finish is sweet, but not that level of sweetness that coats your mouth and has you grabbing a glass of water.
Drinking Winter Jack
Winter Jack is nice straight or on the rocks. Jack Daniel's recommends serving this liqueur warm and that does liven up the flavor considerably. It only makes sense because Winter Jack is a cider and cider is fantastic when it is hot!
There are a number of ways that Winter Jack can be warmed up. One is to toss a mug in the microwave for a minute or less. Don't overdo it because liquor tends to lose its flavor in the microwave and it will naturally evaporate some of the alcohol. It is already a mild 30 proof, so you want to keep the alcohol intact. A better solution is to warm a cup's worth very slowly on the stovetop. Better yet, throw the whole bottle in a pot or slow cooker and share it with friends!
Winter Jack is an ideal base for a hot toddy without the tea. In this case, begin with three parts Winter Jack and one part hot water, and make adjustments from there to suit your taste. This should open up the aroma and flavors nicely and cut a bit on that soft sweetness to make it a very enjoyable warm drink. A few dashes of fresh lemon juice is a good addition and it's even better with a cinnamon stick.
Winter Jack has several possibilities in both warm and cold cocktails. Use it as the base for a warm old-fashioned or the hot apple toddy. You can also simply pour it with ginger ale to make a seasonal highball.
If you are feeling adventurous, you may even want to consider it for the base of Jack Daniel's signature Lynchburg lemonade. Tennessee Cider works surprisingly well with lemon and the brand created a new lemonade recipe (named the Jack Daniel's Tennessee Cider Lemonade) for it that is very easy: Stir 4 ounces Winter Jack with 1 squeeze of lemon juice.
If you are expecting the full force that is Jack Daniel's Whiskey in Winter Jack, you will be disappointed. The whiskey is not the focus, though you could always add a little JD to it and be perfectly happy.
As a seasonal taste that warms you up with everything that is great about the final months of the year, this is a great choice. We need more cider liqueurs in the world and this is one of the better options. Have fun with it... warm it up, mix it up, simply enjoy it!