The names ‘Jack’ and ‘Johnnie’ will never mean a thing other than whisky to a true whisky lover worth their salt; not even if their closest friend is named either of those names but what assigns them this iconic status? Why are so many of the world’s whisky lovers on a first name basis with these whisky brands?
For starters, both Johnnie Walker and Jack Daniels are two of the most enduring whisky/whiskey brands in the world, and although they do share their extensive list of differing qualities, they are after all, whisky/whiskey makers when it comes down to brass tacks.
So how are Jack Daniels, and Johnnie Walker different from each other? Are they really any different, and if so, how? Is there a winner when it comes to the Jack Daniels Vs Johnnie Walker debate? Look no further for the answers.
Let us begin with Jack Daniels; one of America’s proudest exports, beloved drinks and one of the few ‘Tennessee Whiskies’ in the market. The brand was established in Lynchburg, Tennessee in 1875 by Jack Daniel and is one of the world’s largest selling whiskey brands, regardless of the categorized definitions such as Bourbon, Irish whiskey or Scotch whiskies.
Ideally, American made whiskeys that are prepared using a 51% Corn mash are labelled as Bourbon whiskeys, and before Jack Daniels goes through the ‘Lincoln Country Process’, that is exactly what it is too.
The Lincoln County Process involves filtering the whiskey through bits of charcoal chips before they are filled into barrels for aging. Jack Daniels also chooses to mature their whiskey in charred oak barrels to achieve their distinctive taste.
Johnnie Walker on the other hand belongs to Scotland, the mythical land that produces Scotch whiskies that satiate the desires of whisky drinkers all over the world. It was established in Kilmarnock, Scotland by John Walker in 1865, and later expanded multi-fold by his son and grandson, Alexander ‘Alec’ Walker and Alexander Walker II.
It is one of the few Scotch whisky brand to have obtained the Royal Warrant to supply goods to the court of King George V in 1934.
The brand is one of the most popular and high selling blended Scotch whisky brands globally, and belongs to the ultra-premium segment. The Johnnie Walker inventory contains numerous different expressions, aged and with no-age-statements.
The comparison between the two brands goes deeper than comparing brands belonging to the same category since Jack Daniels and Johnnie Walker are not even produced in the same country, or even continent.
Jack Daniels, as we know, is a Tennessee Whisky produced in the state of Tennessee in the United States of America, whereas Johnnie Walker is a typical blended Scotch whisky produced in Scotland.
Either brand also employ a vastly different set of ingredients; Jack Daniels uses a mash that is predominantly Corn based (80%) with smaller amounts of other grains such as Barley, and Rye (12% and 8% respectively).
Johnnie Walker on the other hand, is a blend of several grain and single malt whiskies, meaning the nature of the mash would vary based on the source whiskies and how they are produced.
The Jack Daniels recipe is pretty straightforward, and fairly simple although that doesn’t necessarily factor in when comparing the two brands, but merits purely as an interesting factoid.
Both Jack Daniels and Johnnie Walker carry an alcohol percentage of 40% (80 US Proof), as they are legally required to do so.
Moving on, let us pit the two heavyweights in the tasting notes category, and see who prevails. Since Jack Daniels does not follow a proper hierarchy of placing their expressions on the basis of ‘premium-ness’, a fair comparison would be between the Jack Daniels Old No. 7, and the Johnnie Walker Black Label. The Black Label is a 12-year-old blended Scotch whisky expression that is one of the most popular variants from the house of Johnnie Walker.
The tasting notes on the Jack Daniels Old No. 7 are;
It has a mellow nose, with hints of sweetness, dry spice, and smoke.
Smooth flavours of banana, nuttiness, and caramel.
Long and sweet, with a bit of oakiness.
The tasting notes on the Johnnie Walker Black Label are;
Rich aromas of honey, soft smoke and rum spice.
Woody oakiness, with traces of butterscotch, Christmas cake and maltiness.
Long finish, with hints of smoke and spice.
Overall, the Jack Daniels Old No. 7 and the Johnnie Walker Black Label, both have their respective strengths, and drawbacks, although when it comes to making an educated choice, we would opt for the Jack Daniels Old No. 7. It can be slammed straight from a shot glass, has been proved to be a terrific on the rocks companion, and also constitutes a part of the crowd favourite and legendary, Jack and Coke.
As far as your personal preferences are concerned, we would recommend trying both.