What’s In The Barrel? Debating What Makes Tennessee Whiskey

March 20, 2014

The debate over Tennessee Whiskey

When looking at American Whiskey, most of the world only thinks about Bourbon and Tennessee Whisky. According to a law passed right around a year ago, Tennessee Whiskey is virtually identical in process to bourbon, apart from one singular step – the addition of a filtering through maple charcoal. Other than that: 51% Corn? Check. New, charred oak barrels? check. Bottled at at least 80 proof? Check.

That specific law is something that Jack Daniel’s fought to have put in place. But given the recent boom in craft distilling throughout the US, Tennessee lawmakers are looking to change the designation by allowing the re-use of barrels in distillation. Diageo (global liquor mega brand, and owners of the #2 Tennessee Whiskey brand George Dickel) and Brown-Forman (Kentucky-based owner of Jack Daniel’s) are starting to put some political pressure out there, and right now it’s playing out in the Tennessee Statehouse.

Erik Schelzig and Bruce Schreiner have dug deeply into the debate for The Associated Press:

“There are a lot of ways to make high-quality whiskey, even if it’s not necessarily the way Jack Daniel’s does it,” Sanderson said. “What gives them the right to call theirs Tennessee whiskey, and not others?”

Sanderson acknowledged that he introduced the measure at Diageo’s urging, but said it would also help micro distilleries opening across the state. Diageo picked up on the same theme.

The debate is certainly one of interest, and will likely continue for quite some time. Until then, if you’re looking for a good bourbon or tennessee whiskey suggestion, we’d be more than happy to point you to a few.

Source: Jack Daniel’s Opposes Changing Tenn. Whiskey Law [ Erok Schelzig and Bruce Schreiner}

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