New Spirit: Jack Daniel's Tennessee Honey Liqueur + Our Huckleberry Variation

Blueberry Focaccia + Homemade Ice Cream + Whiskey-Honey Liqueur. Jealous?
Blueberry Focaccia + Homemade Ice Cream + Whiskey-Honey Liqueur. Jealous?
J. Garbee

The honey craze hit the whiskey and bourbon trail long ago, Drambuie (honey whisky liqueur) and Wild Turkey American Liqueur (bourbon-honey) among them. Jack Daniel's is now joining the game with the release of its namesake Tennessee Honey whiskey liqueur in two weeks, a blend of Jack Daniel's trademark (standard?) Old No. 7 Tennessee Whiskey, honey and spices.

Jeff Norman, the distillery's Master Taster (yes, they also have a Master Distiller) describes the liqueur simply as honey and Jack Daniels. "Obviously, it's unique in that regard," he says in a press release with surprisingly few Southern embellishments. "Nothing else is made with Jack." There you have it. Southern pride at its finest.

Perhaps with heavy hitting competitors like Drambuie already on the honey-and-whiskey market, the marketing execs at Jack Daniel's decided to take the gentlemanly high road. It would be hard to come up with a Southern tale about Tennessee Honey liqueur as grand as the 18th century Drambuie battles. There's nothing like the secret honey and herb-spiced recipe that supposedly only the female members of the Scottish MacKinnon clan are still privy to today (the matriarch does the blending, we are assured).

As for the taste, the pinch-of-cinnamon spirit is easy drinking (translation: a bit soft to our palette), likely why Jack Daniel's recommends serving it chilled. Adding more sugar, or in this case honey, kills much of the harsh finish of hard alcohol but begets a pastry chef's Catch-22: now you've got too much sugar. Serving the spirit chilled cuts down on the lingering sweetness. If you've ever licked the homemade custard bowl before churning ice cream, you know exactly what we're talking about.

Could you use it in a cocktail? Of course. In fact, we prefer this spirit as an ingredient rather than as a straight sipper. Poured over that homemade vanilla bean ice cream would be grand. A blueberry focaccia tart from Huckleberry, even better. That chewy crust sprinkled with the inky berries and just a touch of sugar begs for -- what else? Homemade vanilla ice cream and a generous drizzle of local honey, and sure, why not amp it up with honey liqueur. If you happen to have pewter Jefferson cups handy, as we (yes, actually) do, invite your friends over and show them how Southerners take on California, one Southern whiskey liqueur-drizzled dessert plate at a time.


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