Whisky of the week – Tennessee Fire by Jack Daniels.
Some say it doesn’t exist. 
Others that it shouldn’t.
But it does.
So here we go.

I’ve heard the questions asked.
is it Jägermeister for adults?
Is it whiskey for kids? 
Is that really Jack Daniels? 
Tennessee Fire?

Well, it exists. I’ve even seen the T-shirt.
Cinnamon whisky.
My Heilan’ grandfaithers will be turning in their peaty graves.

Released in the US in 2014, is it a bold bid for the mid-shelf or a hasty response to a Canadian invasion?
Who knows. Who cares.
It’s here, it’s clear, it’s really, really queer.

Cinnamon liqueur blended with Jack Daniels Old No. 7. A dark amber demeanour in a familiar square bottle with a flame-red label calling out for attention. A fiery drop desperate to be drunk.

Well, it would be rude not to, wouldn’t it?

But how to drink it? That’s the sixty-four thousand dollar question.

Now I’m not much of a shots guy. I like to savour my whisky, enjoy the warming glow, bask in the afterbite and settle neatly into my mellow.
But when the lads from Lynchburg themselves suggest chilled shots is the way to go, you have to pay some attention.

Tennessee Fire – spicy amber shot

Chilled to thrill, it goes down easy. Smooth sinking with a fiery finish. A cinnamon spice-burn rather than the deep-throated flame of a raunchy Tennessee whiskey. The sweet and spicy cinnamon flavour dominates the vanilla notes, as intended. Very shootable and rather deceptive, it doesn’t really feel like downing strong liquor.
Buyer beware!

Tennessee Fire and soda
Tennessee Fire with ice and soda at Canary Wharf, London

If shots are not your thing, enjoy it with ice and soda – lemonade or coke if you really need that sugar mega-hit. The fine-grained whiskey provides a firm foundation for a cinnamon liqueur strong enough to match any mixer. It’s a warm and welcoming addition to the shelf for a chilly afternoon in the Nordic spring, a pleasant log-fire supper in snow-draped Vermont or a night on the town.

The Nose: Sweet spicy candy in a glass. Cinnamon, cinnamon and cinnamon on a foundation of sugar with a faint note of whiskey.

The Palate: Strong flavour of candied cinnamon, nicely spicy, with hints of vanilla and brown sugar. Less fiery than the nose suggests, a pleasant heat, especially when chilled. A taste of the old Lynchburg magic lingering in the mid-palate.

The Finish: Long and very sweet, fire and ice, candied cinnamon fading slowly.

While not wanting to destroy my whisky-connoisseur reputation any more than I already have by drinking craft beer, I did enjoy this chilled. Its concentrated cinnamon core doesn’t go too far in terms of heat, while it has a rich, rounded, sweet background for when the heat fades.

Will it change the habits of a lifetime?
I doubt it. 
Will it raise the ire of some died-in-the-wool whiskey drinkers?
You bet!
Is it for me?
Not as a regular tipple. But I wouldn’t say no if a round of shots materialised in front of me.
Is it for you?
Yes, if you’re looking for a spicy liquor. No, if you’re looking for a nicely balanced Tennessee whiskey.
Does it deserve its place on the shelf?
Why not? But the pouring bottle should be chilled in the cooler for shots. 

Tennessee Fire
Its flames may extinguish amid the familiar evanescence  of a failed fad.
It may lend itself to the reimagining of traditional whisky cocktails in clubs and bars around the globe – the new fashioned Old Fashioned.
It may even help spread the gospel according to Jack beyond the cola drinking masses.
But, feast or famine, win or lose, it shows Jack Daniels undoubtedly still have the fire in their belly to innovate and experiment.

Good luck to them.

Roadtested at Smollensky’s, Canary Wharf, London, England.