That was exactly my thought when I was first contacted by a representative for this whiskey brand. Scotch has always been my first love and has and likely always will form the biggest part of my collection. Vying for second place are the whiskies from the United States and the rest of the world.
My collection of American whiskies has grown over the last 5 years but certainly not at the same rate as my other bottles including English whisky. This is partly due to the tenancy of a certain individual resembling a disgruntled apricot – who was until recently sat behind a desk in a large white building in Washington D.C. Many months of political posturing and tantrum tariffs caused price increases in Scotch in the US, and American Whiskey in Europe by return. Thankfully that’s all behind us now and things (C*vid aside) are starting to return to some semblance of normality.
How fitting then that I am told about an American whiskey distiller that I’d not come across before. In American Whiskey, a bit like the Irish whiskey scene at times, waters can be muddied with sourced spirit, brands using suggestive phrasing on packaging, and a lot of fanfare without much end result. Luckily however there is a distillery tucked away in Tennessee that’s released a new to market whiskey to provide what appears to be an alternative.
Sat in an unassuming industrial unit in Columbia Tennessee sits the Tennessee Distilling Company and is headed up by J. Arthur Rackham, who spent more than fifty years in the drinks industry in various guises. Full disclosure, I hadn’t heard of these guys before but that’s more likely a reflection on me than them. Their bottling, Daddy Rack Whiskey, is named after the nickname that J. Arthur was given by his daughter.
Tennessee is already home to two whiskey titans in the form of the inescapable Jack Daniels and George Dickel so its always good to hear of smaller and under the radar alternatives. Jack Daniels and Dickell both market their whiskey’s as ‘Sour Mash’ referring to the process where the bacterial aspects are carried over from batch to batch to provide consistency. A similar concept as a sourdough starter. Realistically this isn’t an unusual process as the many of the large Bourbon players also utilise the process but don’t market their whiskey in this way.
Before we go on, let’s do away with a few American whiskey myths. Bourbon doesn’t have to come from Kentucky, the mash ingredients and ageing process is what dictates that. In the same vein, Sour Mash whiskey doesn’t have to come from Tennessee. Tennessee Whiskey however can only be made in Tennessee.
Daddy Rack is produced using a mashbill of 80% corn, 10% rye and 10% malted barley. The significant corn proportion all sourced from farmers within a 50 mile radius of the distillery which is both impressive and a nod to the local community. After distillation initially through a copper column still followed by a pot still, the whiskey undergoes what is known as the Lincoln County process. A production process popularised notably by Jack Daniels, the spirit is passed through an initial charcoal filtration. One difference utilised by Tennessee Distilling Co being they then pass the spirit through maple charcoal a second time.
Each batch is set to be made up of just 20 barrels.
After maturation the whiskey was then bottled at 40% and in true American whiskey style, without the addition of added colouring.
Disclosure: This sample was kindly provided by Daddy Rack/LX PR/Emporia Brands for review. However, as with any other whisky, just because this whisk(e)y has been provided to me this does not mean that it will automatically get a favourable review and as with all whiskies that I have reviewed and will review in the future shall be judged on it’s own merits.
Daddy Rack Tennessee Straight Whiskey – 40% – No added Colour
The colour is a light copper with some nice slow legs on the glass.
The nose is all fairground vibes and takes me back to my time at Santa Cruz Beach Boardwalk. There’s an instant rich sweetness, warmth and savoury note to this that is a bit like walking passed the various food stalls. Donuts, corn on the cob and warm breads open proceedings. Buttered popcorn cherry pie and Bounty bars follow with a nice coconut and chocolate note. In comes browned salted butter and vanilla alongside a touch of menthol.
The palate carries with it a good texture initially. That cherry makes a welcomed reappearance alongside raw buttery cookie dough and milk chocolate. The corn influence is there in abundance and it brings with it a good level of sweetness and spice. Custard and granola finish things off with a warming finish of medium length.
Overall I’m impressed and on the face of it this seems like a welcomed addition to the market of a versatile Tennessee whiskey. This is approachable and interesting and as I don’t always sit analysing whiskies to death; I’ve also tried this in a few cocktails including Old Fashioned’s and sours and it works well with that sweet corn led note coming through. I’d happily sit back and sip this from a heavy bottomed tumbler in the evenings of the coming warmer months. Speaking of which I may just do that..
Fancy some tunes? The Malt Music for this dram comes from Father John Misty. Given he’s one of my favourite artists its a wonder I’ve managed to wait this long to include him. The stage name of Joshua Tillman, Misty’s music is all encompassing. Surreal, punchy, toe tapping and at times lyrically hilarious. This particular song, Writing A Novel from his 2012 Album Fear Fun meets a lot of the above and for me perfectly encompasses the fun but laid back attitude of this whiskey.
Holy Grail – Indiana Jones himself can only hope to find such a treasure.
Unbelievable – Among the best I’ve ever had. Must be tried at all costs.
Outstanding – One you should try to get hold of. Qualities in abundance.
Very Good – One to have on the shelf regularly. Provides consistent enjoyment.
Good – I’d happily drink this. One to buy at the right price.
Solid – No particular flaws but no wow factor either.
Fine – There to take the edge off. Good for highballs and won’t need much thought.
Meh – Somewhat flawed. More of a chore than a pleasure.
Oh Dear – Consistent flaws. Gets you where you’re going at the speed you want to get there.
Please Make it Stop – Not one to seek out. Hope for a gift receipt.