Alice Hargreaves steps up her whiskey game by trialling Daddy Rack’s Small Batch Straight Tennessee Whiskey.
The first time I properly drank whiskey was in my teens when Southern Comfort or Jack Daniel’s with Coke was the drink du jour. I did not enjoy it. My young palate, and terrible taste, meant I winced whenever that was the only drink on offer. Fast forward more years than I’d like to admit; I can now afford a nicer tipple and my palate has definitely developed away from poorly-made spirits. With whiskey though, my consumption is reserved for cocktails.
I was excited then to try Daddy Rack’s Small Batch Straight Tennessee Whiskey, without the Coke, to see if my tastes have matured. Spoiler: they have. Daddy Rack has everything I love to see when choosing what to buy: a brilliant back story, some serious skill, and a small independent brand.
Daddy Rack, aka J. Arthur Rackham, has spent 40 years in the booze business as both a blender and an international spirit merchant. As a whiskey fan it was his ambition to create a small batch whiskey brand and that is exactly what he did. Despite this being an American whiskey, Daddy Rack himself actually hails from London - Portobello Road specifically - but wanted to challenge himself and be a true pioneer.
The whiskey has a high corn content, all sourced from within 50 miles of the distillery in Tennessee. The blend is mashed, double filtered and aged for 3 years in oak barrels. When ready, twenty barrels are selected for a Master Batch Blend; these barrels are given a light additional filtration for a final smoothness. Finally, the twenty selected barrels are then batch blended using an original recipe that includes no colours, caramels or other nasty chemicals.
When enjoying this on the rocks the real element that comes through is the smoothness. It tastes smoky with tones of vanilla and maple and for a straight spirit is rather too drinkable. I enjoyed mine over ice and added a blackberry to complement the flavours of the whiskey. Ordinarily, I’d opt for a slice of orange peel, but a blackberry in its place did a great job.
Daddy Rack admits he’s a sours fan and as I am too, I absolutely had to try this as a sour. It would be rude not to right?
Daddy Rack Whiskey Sour
50ml Daddy Rack
35ml Lemon Juice (I used bottled for ease)
15 ml of sugar syrup (I used shop bought but you can make it yourself very easily)
3 dashes of angostura bitters
½ an egg white (I used a carton to avoid mess and wastage)
To garnish: a cocktail cherry (or two)
Daddy Rack makes an impressive sour, one where you get the elements of citrus and sour from the whiskey showing through. The sour elements are something unique to the style of whiskey, from both the high corn content and the sour mash at the beginning of the process.
It really is a beautiful all-rounder. It doesn’t have the edge of paint stripper that you get with some cheaper alternatives and as it is a Tennessee whiskey it has to be made in Tennessee following strict production and quality standards. The fact that it has been through this process absolutely shines through.
What’s more, the bottle really does feel special. The illustration of Daddy Rack is an accurate representation (thanks Google) of the real J. Arthur Rackham whose eccentricity and passion really shines through.
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