On Halloween, I came home from work to find a bottle of Jack Daniel’s new Winter Jack Tennessee Cider at the doorstep. It was a nice surprise, wrapped in a white, wintery wrapper in sharp contrast to the warmth offered inside.
Winter Jack mixes Jack Daniel’s whiskey with apple cider liqueur for a blend that’s 15 percent alcohol by volume (roughly the strength of a wine). The bottle recommends serving it warm, unlike many of the typical hard cider offerings.
So I obliged, pouring roughly a wine glass-worth into a mug and microwaving it for roughly a minute, which was probably a little too long but offered a steaming cauldron effect perfect for the holiday. Once it cooled a bit, the taste-testing began.
It does, indeed, taste better warm, and cinnamon comes through as the key spice in the recipe. But even at 15 percent, the flavor of the whiskey/liqueur tends to overwhelm the cider. It’s a tasty combo and decidedly sweeter thanks to the liqueur, but rather than giving the effect of a spiked cider, it comes across with more emphasis on the alcohol.
That’s not to say it’s bad — the bottle definitely has not gone to waste, and some may prefer more emphasis on the booze — but it seems like there’s still room to improve the formula. And it’s still got its work cut out for it against the seasonal designed-to-be-warmed wines that tend to appear this time of the year.
Or it may simply benefit from one of the recipes included with the bottle — a mix of Winter Jack, caramel sauce and cream dubbed Jack Daniel’s White Cider. The cream and caramel help thicken the drink a bit, which in turn helps mute the alcohol for a smooth, thick drink that still allows the all-important cider flavoring to slip through. For my money, it’s the best way to drink Winter Jack.
For more info, www.jackdaniels.com/whiskey/winter-jack
Bill Jones Ink received a bottle of Winter Jack courtesy of Jack Daniel’s for review purposes.