For whiskey lovers, it’s a classic debate.
Both are incredibly popular American bourbons. One from Kentucky, the other Tennessee – each with their own devoted following.
Both of these brands have a long and storied history of producing high-quality spirits, and for many, the debate of which is better is an ongoing one.
Ultimately, it’s up to you to determine which is the better whiskey, but by the end of this article, you should have a better understanding of what makes each of these whiskeys unique.
In this article, we will explore the differences between Four Roses and Jack Daniels, looking at their origins, their production processes, their taste profiles and the arguments for each one’s superiority to find out which is the true king of the bourbons.
Let’s take an in-depth look at Four Roses vs Jack Daniels.
Four Roses’ backstory
Four Roses has a long and storied history. Founded in 1888 by Paul Jones Jr., Four Roses was originally known as “Paul Jones and Company” and was one of the first nationally recognized bourbon brands.
The brand was later sold to Seagram in 1943 and its name changed to Four Roses. During the 1950s and 1960s, Four Roses was the top-selling bourbon in the United States, but its popularity waned after Seagram began to focus more on other spirits. In 2002, the brand was purchased by Kirin Brewing Company, who reintroduced it to the United States in 2004 after a 40-year absence.
Today, Four Roses is one of the most popular bourbons on the market. The brand produces a variety of bourbon expressions, including a range of single barrel, blended and small batch bottlings, as well as a range of limited-edition releases. Four Roses is known for its unique production process, which involves blending two different bourbons to create its signature taste.
About Jack Daniels
Jack Daniel’s is an iconic American whiskey brand founded by Jasper Newton “Jack” Daniel in Lynchburg, Tennessee, in 1866. Daniel, the son of a Lutheran minister, was born in 1850 in rural northern Alabama.
At the age of seven, Daniel was sent to live with his uncle, a local Lutheran minister, in Lynchburg. It was there that Daniel became acquainted with a local distiller, Dan Call, who ran a distillery and country store. Daniel learned the trade from Call, and in 1875, when he was 25 years old, he received a distillery licence to begin producing his own whiskey.
Daniel named his whiskey Jack Daniel’s Old No. 7, in honour of his favourite number. He used a charcoal mellowing process to filter and refine the whiskey, which imbued its distinctive flavour and smoothness. In 1907, the Jack Daniel Distillery was officially registered as a limited liability company (LLC). The company grew quickly, and by the 1920s had become one of the largest whiskey producers in the United States. In 1956, the Jack Daniel’s brand was sold to the Brown–Forman Corporation, which is still the brand’s owner today.
The company has continued to expand, and Jack Daniel’s is now one of the best-known and most popular whiskey brands and is a staple in many bars and homes around the world.
The Jack Daniel Distillery is still in operation in Lynchburg and is a popular tourist attraction. The distillery offers tours, tastings, and other special events. The whiskey is still produced using the same charcoal mellowing process that Daniel pioneered over 150 years ago.
Jack Daniels has an iconic brand image. The black-and-white label and the signature square bottle have been widely recognizable for over a century, and the brand has become synonymous with high-quality whiskey. The brand also has a strong presence in popular culture, appearing in movies, books, and television shows. Jack Daniels has a wide range of products. The company offers a variety of different whiskeys, as well as liqueurs, flavoured whiskey, and even specialty items.
The distillation differences between Four Roses vs Jack Daniels
Four Roses and Jack Daniels are two of the most popular and widely known whiskey brands in the world. Both distilleries have been producing quality whiskey for over a century, and their products have become icons of American culture. While the two brands have a lot in common, they also have some major differences when it comes to their unique distillation processes. Here’s a quick overview.
|Four Roses||Jack Daniels|
|Barrels||Made offsite||Made on-site|
Making Four Roses single barrel
The distillation process used to create Four Roses Bourbon has been around for over 140 years, and it is considered to be one of the most unique distillation processes in the world.
Uniquely, the Lawrenceburg distillery uses two different mash bills and five different yeast strains, allowing them to create ten different bourbon recipes. Depending on the mash bill and yeast used, each of these ten bourbons have their own unique flavour profile and four letter recipe code.
The process begins with the selection of the highest quality grains, which include corn, rye, and malted barley. As Four Roses have two mash bills, each have their own unique grain recipes;
- Mash bill B: 60% corn / 35% rye / 5% malted barley
- Mash bill E: 75% corn / 20% rye / 5% malted barley
These grain recipes are milled and soaked in pure limestone-filtered water for several hours. Once the grain mixture is ready, it’s transferred to be heated and treated with enzymes to convert the starches into sugars. This sugary liquid is called the ‘sweet mash’.
Next, the mash is transferred to large stainless-steel fermentation tanks, where it’s mixed with any of their five yeast strains and a small portion of previously distilled grains called ‘sour’. These old grains help acidify the mash, encouraging the yeast to ferment and convert the sugars to alcohol.
Between four to five days, the fermented liquid develops its fruity flavours, resulting in a basic 8% ABV beer known as the “wash.”
The wash is then transferred to one of the distillery’s two 20ft tall Vendome column stills and slowly heated. The alcohol evaporates due to the heat, progressively becoming more alcoholic as the vapour rises through the still. Eventually, it pushes its way out the top as a relitively pure 66% ABV clear spirit.
To remove any remaining impurities, the spirit is re-distilled inside a second still called a doubler. This heats and re-evaporates the spirit which is then collected and condensed into a clear 70% ABV ‘new make spirit’.
Each barrel is aged for at least 5 years at Four Roses. The caramelised sugars impart oak and woody flavours to the bourbon, as well as sweet vanilla and toffee notes from the charred interior surface.
Making Jack Daniels Old No.7
Unlike Four Roses, Jack Daniel’s uses just a single mash bill containing 80% corn, 12% rye, and 8% malted barley. The whiskey’s notorious sweetness is partly due to its high corn content, and it also has pepper and spice flavours from its rye component.
The process starts with the hammer-milled corn and rye being cooked in a mash cooker with spring water from the nearby Lynchburg limestone cave. Dried and then mixed with the barley, the three-grain mixture is milled into a coarse flour. This helps break down the cellulose walls when the grains are combined with water and fermented with yeast to create a beer-like liquid called mash.
Sour mash you say?
Observing the label on any Jack Daniels bottle, you’ll notice the term ‘sour mash’. A strange term for such a smooth whiskey, this actually refers to the fermentation process. This is where a small portion of grains from the previous batch is used to ferment the new one – a bit like making sourdough bread.
Mixed with water and a small portion of previous leftover grains, the yeast converts new mash mixture’s sugars into alcohol. After for 4 to 6 days of fermentation, the mash mash has become 10.5% ABV distillers beer, also known as the wash.
After fermentation, the wash is transferred to any of Jack Daniels’ four continuous stills. While hot steam rises from the bottom, the wash is poured in from the top. When it makes contact with hot steam, the alcohol evaporates upwards, becomes increasingly stronger and eventually exits the top of the still.
At 66% ABV, the alcoholic vapour pushes its way into a small vessel called a thumper keg. The hot vapour condenses and begins to gather inside the still getting increasingly hotter. Eventually, the spirit begins to boil, creating ‘thumping’ bubbling noises. The boiling spirit becomes vapour once again, exiting the thumper as a purer, stronger ‘new make spirit’.
One of the main differences between Four Roses vs Jack Daniels is a very old filtration process. Pouring their new make spirit into a large vat of fine sugar maple charcoal, the whiskey slowly filters its way downwards through 10 feet of densely packed charcoal chips.
Traditionally known as the Lincoln County Process (used since 1866) the whiskey takes 3-5 days to filter down through the charcoal. This incredibly slow method of filtration removes any remaining impurities from the spirit and gives its sweet signature smoothness.
The whiskey is then aged in brand new, charred American oak barrels for four to seven years, which helps to give it its unique flavour. Before bottling, Jack Daniel Old No. 7, is diluted to 40% ABV.
Single Barrel Four Roses vs Jack Daniels Old No.7
Four Roses Single Barrel tasting notes
Nose: Rich, fruity with notes of spice, toffee, chocolate and vanilla.
Palate: Sour stone fruits, prunes, cocoa, spices, morello cherries and vanilla.
Finish: Chocolate, butterscotch and oak.
Price: $43 / £36
Flavour profile of the Single Barrel
The Four Roses Single Barrel Bourbon Whiskey is a complex and flavourful whiskey with a smooth finish. It has a deep, rich aroma of caramel, charred oak as well as hints of oak and spice. It has flavours of vanilla, cocoa, and honey on the palate and is full-bodied and smooth. A faint cinnamon undertone and smokiness are also present.
Its deep amber colour and inviting bouquet make it a great choice for sipping neat or on the rocks. The Single Barrel pairs perfectly with sharp cheddar, Gruyere, and blue cheese. The richness of the cheese will bring out the sweetness of the whiskey and the spiciness of the Bourbon will help to balance out the flavours of the cheese. Try a grilled cheese sandwich made with sharp cheddar and a few slices of smoked bacon for a delicious snack.
Chocolate and whiskey is a classic pairing that’s sure to please. Milk or dark chocolate work equally well. Try a rich, dark chocolate truffle topped with a few drops of whiskey for a decadent treat.
Jack Daniels Old No. 7 tasting notes
Nose: Light and sweet in abundance. There are hints of smoke as well as dry spices and oily nuts.
Palate: Smooth and creamy. Notes of banana milkshake, nuts, and a hint of caramel with crème anglaise.
Finish: Toasty oak with a hint of spice, and the touch of cereal sweetness.
Price: $30 / £25
Flavour profile of Jack Daniels Old No. 7
The flavour profile of the Jack Daniels is complex and well-rounded. On the nose, it has a sweet, smoky aroma with hints of oak, vanilla, and caramel. On the palate it’s smooth and mellow with a hint of spice on the finish.
Nothing pairs better with the Jack Daniels than a rack of ribs or juicy pulled pork. The sweetness of the whiskey complements the smoky flavour of the BBQ, creating a sweet and savoury balance.
A classic steak dinner pairs well with a glass of Jack Daniels Old No. 7. The bold flavour stands up to the richness of the steak, resulting in a delicious meal that is sure to satisfy.
If you want to try it with fruits, apples, pears, and peaches are all great options, as are tart fruits such as cranberries and oranges.
These are just a few of the many delicious food pairings that can be enjoyed with Jack Daniels Old No. 7. Whether you’re looking for something to snack on while sipping your whiskey or a full meal to share with friends, this classic whiskey has something to offer.
|Four Roses Single Barrel||Jack Daniels Old No.7|
|Nose||Rich, fruity with notes of spice, toffee, chocolate and vanilla.||Light and sweet in abundance. There are hints of smoke as well as dry spices and oily nuts.|
|Palate||Sour stone fruits, prunes, cocoa, spices, morello cherries and vanilla.||Smooth and creamy. Notes of banana milkshake, nuts, and a hint of caramel with crème anglaise.|
|Finish||Chocolate, butterscotch and oak.||Toasty oak, with a touch of cereal sweetness.|
|Age||Usually, 8-9 years||4 years|
|Classification||Straight Bourbon||Tennessee Whiskey|
|Cask||American white oak||American charred oak|
|Price (USD/GBP)||$43 / £36||$30 / £25|
Final thoughts on Four Roses vs Jack Daniels
Four Roses and Jack Daniels are two of the most popular whiskey brands in the world. Both offer a variety of flavours, styles, and expressions, so it comes down to personal preference.
Four Roses is known for its smooth, mellow flavour and is especially popular in the south. Jack Daniels is a classic and is loved for its smoky, oak flavour. Ultimately, the choice between these two brands is yours to make.
Whether you’re looking for a classic or something more unique, both Four Roses and Jack Daniels have something to offer.