If you can look past the fact that Jack Daniel’s Tennessee Honey isn’t actually a whiskey, you might just appreciate the whiskey-based liqueur’s genuine honey flavor over ice or in a highball. Like most liqueurs, it’s very sweet, but thanks to its 70 proof, it also packs a punch.
Classification honey liqueur combined with whiskey
Distillery Jack Daniel’s (Lynchburg, Tennessee)
Still Type copper pot
Proof 70 (35% ABV)
Aged no age statement
This bottle has great appeal for drinkers who like the idea of Jack Daniel’s or whiskey in general but don’t like the taste of the real thing.
At 70 proof, it packs a bit of a punch, but it can also be sipped by novice drinkers.
It’s said to be flavored with genuine honey.
It’s a liqueur masquerading as a whiskey, and thereby muddies the water for both categories.
Like many liqueurs, it’s tooth-achingly sweet.
Color: Light golden honey, of all things. Makes sense, right?
Nose: Honey is the dominant aroma by far, with a bit of light grain, oak, and ethanol bringing up the rear.
Palate: Quite a realistic honey flavor—one sip and it’s easy to believe Jack Daniel’s claims that real honey is used to make the liqueur. The whiskey doesn’t contribute a whole lot flavor-wise, but it does lend a bit of an alcoholic bite.
Finish: Probably the same aftertaste that would come from a spoonful of honey mixed with a touch of whiskey—it’s sweet, perhaps a bit too much so, with just a hint of caramel and oak.
The 2010s were the decade of flavored whiskeys (or “whiskey liqueurs,” as they’re also known). Cinnamon-flavored Fireball made the biggest splash, but in the spring of 2011 Jack Daniel’s arguably ushered in a new era with its Tennessee Honey. Wild Turkey’s American Honey, a similar liqueur blended with the brand’s bourbon, had been around and remained largely under the radar since the late ’70s, but the promotional blitz accompanying Tennessee Honey announced the new stage of whiskey liqueurs in a big way. The rest is sugary history.
The main thing to remember when tasting Tennessee Honey is that it is, legally and by all other standards, a liqueur, not a whiskey. When evaluated as such, it succeeds pretty admirably. It tastes the way it’s supposed to taste, like honey combined with whiskey. Fans of genuine Jack Daniel’s would probably appreciate a little less of the former and more of the latter, but the whiskey’s presence is definitely felt in the gentle alcoholic bite—let’s call it a nibble—on the swallow. Neat, the liqueur is quite sweet, just this side of cloying. But add ice or use it in a highball and the syrupy texture and intense sweetness are effectively diluted.
Is Tennessee Honey better than Wild Turkey’s American Honey? It’s a little different: brighter on the palate, and the honey flavor is possibly more…authentic? But most likely, if you enjoy one, you’ll enjoy the other, and which one you pick is a matter of brand loyalty.
Prior to the launch of Tennessee Honey in 2011, Jack Daniel’s hadn’t introduced a new product since its Single Barrel expression rolled out in 1997. Since then, however, the brand has been on a tear, introducing everything from canned cocktails to rye whiskey, along with multiple other flavored expressions.