Editor’s Note: This whiskey was provided to us as a review sample by Jack Daniel’s. This in no way, per our editorial policies, influenced the final outcome of this review. It should also be noted that by clicking the buy link towards the bottom of this review our site receives a small referral payment which helps to support, but not influence, our editorial and other costs.
If you thought last year’s High Proof release was over the top at 148.3 proof, Jack Daniel’s one-upped it with 153.2 in the 2022 release of the Jack Daniel’s Small Batch Coy Hill High Proof Tennessee Whiskey. In the race to release the highest barrel proof whiskey, this clocks in at a near weapons-grade 76.6% ABV. Given the intensity of the finished product, it seems fitting that it is only bottled in a stout 375ml package. Despite its smaller size, it has a distinguished presence on the side bar.
In a recent press release, Jack Daniel’s Master Distiller Chris Fletcher explained how they found 55 barrels with extreme amounts of evaporation and high proofs. These barrels were located in the Coy Hill barrelhouse, where they source single-barrel expressions. The evaporation in all 55 barrels was so extreme that there wasn’t enough for the company to produce any single-barrel expressions. Instead, the barrels were blended into five separate batches, resulting in final proofs of 143.6, 147.3, 149.8, 153.2, and 155.1.
These are to be the “highest proof whiskeys ever released” by Jack Daniels. Those keeping track at home will note that this 2022 release is not the highest of the five.
Special corks were used to bottle these spirits, but the producer repeatedly suggests that the bottles be stored upright, presumably to keep the spirit from dissolving the cork and to allow any sediment to settle to the bottom. My sample bottle, a full-sized 375ml bottled on May 23, 2022, likely experienced quite a bit of jostling on its long journey to my desk. Glancing over the cork, it looks a touch worn. My suggestion: heed the warning well.
The 2022 release is described by the producer as having aromas of “burnt sugar, cooked fruit and oak with notes of rich molasses and concentrated barrel spice with bold oak. It finishes long and full with layers of char, dried fruit and caramel.” Sounds satisfying, so let’s check it out!
Tasting Notes: Jack Daniel’s Small Batch Coy Hill High Proof Tennessee Whiskey
Vital Stats: Age time not disclosed, aged in new American oak, 76.6% ABV, mash bill: 80% corn, 12% malted barley, and 8% rye, SRP $55/ 375ml bottle.
Appearance: This is one of the darkest spirits I’ve encountered recently. Its near-opaqueness in the bottle implies a heavy amount of extraction from the barrels, which isn’t much of a surprise given the proof. This is deep chocolate-mahogany with an amber undertone that takes on a brilliant ruby cast in full sunlight.
Nose: As the color suggested, this is strongly aromatic, serving up notes of hearty buckwheat honey and charred vanilla sugar. There’s a hint of nail polish remover and shoe polish that leaps from the glass alongside notes of toasted pecans. On the fruit side, I pick up aromas of stewed yellow peaches and overripe nectarines. Spice aromas include allspice, clove, and dried bay. There’s a touch of a high-toned floral note like wild daisies and sassafras leaves. The aromatics are surprisingly fresh.
Palate: The palate’s notes are milder than the aromatics on the nose, showing a hint of ripe peach but mostly baking spices and old vanilla pods. Swirling the spirit is like having a wrestling match with a burning log. Besides, the finish and retro-nasal notes are far more interesting than letting this melt a hole through your tongue. It evaporates with a bitter lingering note like chewing whole spices, burnt honey, and cedar.