Cocktail Enthusiast joined a slew of other booze writers and avid drinkers in Vegas this week for the official launch of Jack Daniel’s Tennessee Honey. Hosted by the MGM Grand, we tasted through the full Jack Daniel’s lineup with Master Taster Jeff Norman, sipped cocktails featuring the new Tennessee Honey liqueur and attended a mixology contest that pitted 14 Vegas bartenders against each other in a Tennessee Honey mix-off. Some highlights —
Drinking Whiskey with Jeff Norman
As Jack Daniel’s Master Taster (which is perhaps the world’s greatest job title) Jeff Norman is responsible for quality control. He ensures that each Jack Daniel’s expression is bottled at peak maturity. There are no age statements on Jack Daniel’s whiskeys, so each enters the bottle when Norman deems it ready.
Tennessee Honey is a 70 proof liqueur. It’s a blend of Jack Daniel’s Old No. 7 and a proprietary honey liqueur. Norman mentioned that honey was a natural fit to pair with Old No. 7, as it marries well with the whiskey’s caramel and vanilla notes imparted by Jack’s toasted oak barrels.
Tennessee Honey Cocktail Competition
14 Vegas bartenders, whittled down from an original 48 entrants, competed at Tabu Lounge inside MGM, stirring and shaking their way to some creative cocktails. Some worked nicely while others missed the mark. The winning drink made by Eddie Perales, pictured above, was an ingredient-heavy punch that featured – among other things — watermelon, cantaloupe, citrus, orange marmalade and edible flowers, plus an elaborate presentation. Tasty, sure, but it masked the Tennessee Honey more than enhanced it.
Tennessee Honey Cocktails
Besides the competing drinks, we were plied with Tennessee Honey cocktails for two days. Popular mixers included ginger ale, citrus and tea. One favorite was the Honey Smash, detailed below.
Tennessee Honey Smash
1 1/2 ounces Jack Daniel’s Tennessee Honey
1 ounce honey
8 mint leaves
1 lemon, diced
Muddle lemon and mint leaves, then add remaining ingredients. Shake with ice, then strain over fresh ice into a rocks glass. Garnish with a lemon wheel.