Jeff Arnett, Jack Daniel’s Master Distiller: Get to Know Jack

On his first visit to Australia, Jeff Arnett, Jack Daniel’s seventh Master Distiller, held an exclusive whiskey tasting at unique location in Sydney that became known as Jack’s House.

Jeff Arnett Jack Daniel’s
Jack’s House – Inside Byron Kennedy Hall

Long black velvet drapes, Chesterfield lounges and chairs, vintage mirrors,  armoured statues, even a taxidermied bear set the scene for a tasting masterclass where Jeff Arnett regaled guests with stories of life in Lynchburg, Tennessee and the making of the Jack Daniel’s family of brands.

Jeff Arnett Jack Daniel’s
Inside Jack’s House

Jeff Arnett Jack Daniel’s
Jeff Arnett

“I wasn’t born in Lynchburg Tennessee”, Jeff Arnett said in his address. “But I got there as fast as I could.”

The seventh Master Distiller in the 142-year history of Jack Daniel’s worked in the food and beverage industry and was a Tennessee squire a fan club for Jack Daniel’s whose membership is by nomination and word of mouth. In 2001, he was offered the position of quality control manager at Jack Daniel’s, a role that put him in the unique position of learning the entire operation. He saw the entire whisky making process and worked with all the people involved in it, and after seven years, he was appointed as Master Distiller.

Jeff Arnett Jack Daniel’s

Speaking about Jack Daniel, Jeff Arnett gave a brief history of the man behind the brand.

Jack was born around September 1850 – the uncertainty of the date gives reason for fans to celebrate for the entire month. His mother died soon after childbirth and he lost his father to pneumonia when he was a very young teenager. He then moved to a neighbour’s farm that had a general store and made medicinal whiskey. Discovering he had a talent for it, he then set up the distillery in 1866 in Lynchburg, Tennessee. Jack died at age 61 after losing his leg from gangrene poisoning.

Jeff Arnett Jack Daniel’s

Jack Daniel’s is classified as Tennessee Whiskey and not Bourbon. What makes it unique is a combination of factors.

Jack Daniel’s is made from Cave Spring water which has a constant temperature of 13 ºC making it pure and iron-free. It starts as Distillers’ Beer which passes through copper distillation columns which allow precise still control. The Charcoal Mellowing process ensures every drop passes through 10 feet of hard sugar charcoal to remove all bitterness and give a sweet to oaky character. Toasted and charred new white oak barrels are used where charring gives it the oak character and the toasting imparts sweetness. The result is a whiskey unlike any other.

Jeff Arnett Jack Daniel’s

The first whiskey on taste, Gentleman Jack, is one that is often recommended to a novice or someone who says they don’t enjoy the taste of whiskey. It is the softest, lightest and sweetest of the Jack Daniel’s family which is the result of twice charcoal mellowing.

Described as clean and uncomplicated on the nose, it has caramel and vanilla notes, less oak and does not linger much on the palate. There is a tingling sensation at the tip of the tongue followed by warmth on back of throat but less on the finish. Gentleman Jack is popular in a Manhattan cocktail because of the absence of the finish.

The tasting is paired with a canapé of grilled quail breast in Gentleman Jack marinade.

Jeff Arnett Jack Daniel’s

Next was the Single Barrel, a more complex whiskey that makes a statement. Deep caramel in colour, it has intensity on the nose with wood notes and an earthy character. Sweet and oaky with a long warm finish, it opens up mid palate with a lot of flavour at the back of the throat.

Not one for Jack and Coke fans, this is for those who enjoy the taste of whiskey, and it fares well in cocktails where the base spirit is the primary flavour.

The tasting is paired with a ham and cheese croquette.

Jeff Arnett Jack Daniel’s

Jack Daniel’s Old No. 7 may need little introduction. Popular in Jack and Coke, it is the number one selling whiskey in the world. Old No. 7 doesn’t have the sweet start of Gentleman Jack, and it’s not as creamy, long and lingering as Single Barrel but it has a balance of sweet and oak character with vanilla on the tip of tongue.

Old No. 7 was paired with a wild mushroom tart with truffle oil.

Jeff Arnett Jack Daniel’s
L to R: ham and cheese croquette; wild mushroom tart with truffle oil; grilled quail breast in Gentleman Jack marinade 

Jeff Arnett Jack Daniel’s

Guests were also treated to a surprise tasting of Tennessee Honey, the latest member of the Jack Daniel’s family introduced in April 2011, soon to be released in Australia. (edit – July 2012, now available)

“Everybody is buzzing about it,” Jeff Arnett said about the fastest growing brand.

The whiskey, which is made by bringing Old No. 7 to 35% ABV and rounding off the edges by adding honey, was designed to introduce new drinkers to the Jack Daniel’s family. It has a sweet and nutty flavour, with maple character, honey and molasses, making it a drink that can be used in cocktails as well as sipped neat.

Jeff Arnett Jack Daniel’s
L to R: Gentleman jack, Single Barrel, Old No. 7, Tennessee Honey

Jeff Arnett regaled guests with stories of life in Lynchburg, Tennessee, a dry county where alcohol cannot be sold before opening the floor to questions.

Jeff Arnett Jack Daniel’s
Jeff Arnett signing certificates of appreciation and gift boxes

When it comes to the Jack Daniel’s point of difference, Jeff Arnett summed it up in a sentence. “It’s in the taste, and it doesn’t taste anything like the rest.”

Jack's House
Jack's House
Entrance to Jack's House
Entrance to Jack's House
Jack's House
Jack's House
Jack's House
Jack's House
Jack's House
Jack's House
Jeff Arnett, Master Distiller
Jeff Arnett
Jeff Arnett
Jeff Arnett
Jack Daniel's
Jack Daniel's
Jeff Arnett signing my certificate and gift box
Jeff Arnett
The stage at Jack's House
Jack's House
Jack's House
Jack's House
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Get to Know Jack was held on 21 March 2012 at the Byron Kennedy Hall at the Entertainment Quarter in Sydney.

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Jeff Arnett, Jack Daniel’s Master Distiller: Get to Know Jack was last modified: December 20th, 2015 by Corinne Mossati

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Corinne Mossati

Corinne Mossati is the Founder/Editor of popular online magazine Gourmantic and Cocktails & Bars, a website dedicated to cocktail culture and the discerning drinker. She is named in Australian Bartender Magazine’s Top 100 Most Influential List, is a member of The Academy responsible for judging the World’s 50 Best Bars. She has also judged the inaugural Australasian Whisky Awards and various national cocktail competitions.