Ok, maybe this is a dumb question, but I feel bothered by it. I recently was sharing a bottle of Evan Williams black label with a friend and I happened to look over the bottle. It says it's a Kentucky straight bourbon whiskey, however, it also says that it is charcoaled filtered. How is it that these two labels can coexist on the bottle? Is Evan Williams ignoring the 'technicality' of the Lincoln county process?
Not a dumb question at all. Though I am not entirely sure what you are asking. I am assuming you’re talking about the fact that a (straight) bourbon is using charcoal filtration, which, as generally understood, is the overall process used in producing Tennessee whiskey? If that is the case, there are two things going on: One, Tennessee whiskey is “technically” bourbon, yet those who use the term “Tennessee whiskey” are allowed to do so by state Tennessee law, one requirement is the Lincoln country process. So it’s not really bourbon if it isn’t designated by law. You’ll get all these hypo-bourbon-snobs lighting up the blogosphere stating that Jack and Dickel are not bourbon, but Tennessee whiskey. Yes, legally they are different, but only by exclusion in name. Hypothetically, if tomorrow Jack Daniels or Dickel wanted to change their status from Tennessee whiskey to bourbon they would legally find no road blocks. Second, there is more then one kind of “charcoal filtration” as it were, i.e. sugar-maple or activated charcoal. Neither of which would exclude a particular spirit from being labeled bourbon.
Evan Williams Black Label most likely uses some kind of chill-filtration, which many times includes some kind of charcoal-filtration. When the brand was created they most likely were trying to cash in on the mystic of JD or Dickel, even with the Lincoln County Process being much different from what Evan Williams was doing. Hope that answers your question.
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I really like Johnny Walker Double Black, but I'm looking at trying more expensive whiskys. Any recommendations?
I haven’t had the Double but I have tried the normal Johnny Walker Black label, and as I’ve heard, they are similar. The Double being more smoky, which mean more aggressive aging and larger percentages of the peatier, smokier malts added. Some of the main malts used in Black (and most likely Double Black), which you would most likely enjoy, are: Cragganmore, Talisker, Caol Ila (try 12), and many other brands that Diageo likely uses. Really most of the Islay whiskies. Bowmore (try Tempest 10), Legavulin (the 16 being most popular), and Scapa for example.