Our man on the barstool warms up to Jack Daniels' “Tennessee Fire”
Way back in the days of wide collars, denim flares, zodiac medallions and mood rings, a new mall opened in the Chattanooga area. They had some great stores that sold all variety of black velvet/glow-in-the-dark paraphernalia that helped solidify the ’70s as the lowest cultural decade in the history of mankind. But, right in the center of this tacky chaos was a Swiss Colony cheese shop.
And there they sold liquor-flavored hard candy. They had “Martini”, “Whiskey Sour” and other assorted flavors. It was always fun to get a sample and then walk around the arcade smelling like an eight-year-old bar fly. And like Willy Wonka says, “Candy is dandy but liquor is quicker.”
The reason for this rant is the fact that with age, changes in taste don’t always follow suit. The liquor market is inundated with pseudo-candies in brightly colored bottles.
Of course, this really is nothing new at all. Since the 18th century, Germany, Austria, Switzerland and France have been heavily into schnapps of all configurations. So it only makes sense that more modern times lead to more modern variations of the theme.
The exploding world of Internet food and drink blogs has opened up a Tardis of experimentation and deviations from the traditional cocktail. Walk into any well-stocked bar or liquor store and you’ll be astounded at the plethora of wild flavors in everything from vodka to moonshine.
The advantages of this are not limited to tasting the rainbow of flavor choices available. There’s also the added bonus of being able to expand the possibilities of mixed cocktails…or just having them straight up.
Over the past few months, I’ve had the great pleasure of tasting and reviewing much of what’s being offered to the ever-expanding tastes of a thirsty public.
There were times when I would stare at certain combinations and wonder if I were looking at the answer to a question no one asked, only to be silenced by taste buds doing the hula. One of the labels I spent time with was “Cinerator”, made by Heaven Hill.
If you were paying attention, it’s a nice cinnamon whiskey that has the taste of those little red-hot candies you used to get in school on Valentine’s Day before the food police took the fun out of being a kid. Since that write-up, yet another big league player has tossed his wide-brimmed hat into the game.
The Volunteer State’s own first son of smooth, Jack Daniels, has come out with a label they’re calling “Tennessee Fire”. Right now it’s in test-market phase. So, if you’re reading this in Poughkeepsie, keep in mind that you’ll have to go to Tennessee, Pennsylvania or Oregon to get your hot pop rock on.
Jack’s Tennessee Fire comes in the traditional JD shaped bottle but with a bright red label that holds the description, “Cinnamon Liqueur Blended with Jack Daniels Tennessee Whiskey”. Of course that’s a bit vague to me, so I had no other option but to try it.
I asked around a bit if there were any specialty cocktails that local spots were making with the 70 Proof “Tennessee Fire” and as of yet the answer is, “We put it in a glass.” But, worry not. I bet right now some Portland blogger with a beard and a flat cap is unicycling down to a warehouse bar to try it on a doughnut. In a week, everybody on Main Street will be doing it.
Jack’s Tennessee Fire is a lot like the other cinnamon whiskey I tried. This is merely because of the pronounced red-hot-like aroma and flavor. I think the primary difference is obviously that it’s made with Jack Daniels. Those two words alone let you know that you’re in for something special.
After the initial blast of spicy heat, the woody-vanilla of the charcoal filtering comes though for a very smooth finish and it fits an otherwise empty glass perfectly OK. It’s not as sweet as the other cinnamon bottles on the market, which allows it to be an actual cocktail rather than a “shooter”.
The longer it lingers in the throat, the more it turns from cinnamon to good ol’ Jack. It’s like the initial shock of getting in a hot shower and then going, “Ahhhh!” and not wanting to get out. Feels good.
So it you’re lucky enough to be living in one of the three states where “Tennessee Fire” is available, celebrate your kismet! And if you can’t get some of this hot stuff, there’s always Hot Topic…in the mall.