Jack Daniel’s is not a Bourbon

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Suparnaa Chadda, Editorial Consultant, exchange4media Group

Suparnaa Chadda, Editorial Consultant, exchange4media Group

A recent conversation over a relaxed evening had me witness a badger where the lady insisted that Jack Daniel’s is a Bourbon.  While I sat smug, the trigger to the mélange I must admit, was brought on by my decline for a whiskey.

The lady insisted, “But it’s not whiskey it’s a Bourbon.” I tried to diffuse the situation with a rather animated act from the ‘Truman’ show. The antics had the  host convinced I didn’t need a drink – Jack Daniel’s, Bourbon or any other.

In retrospect, I wonder what suckers we’ve become to names, brands and classifications. Whatever happened to enjoying a drink with out worrying about what classification it is. I remember when whiskey meant either a Black Label or a Chivas that my dad would proudly display in front of his guests. Whiskey was whiskey not Bourbon, Scotch or Irish. It was just whiskey with or without the ‘e’. The only other classification was the neighborhood Pomeranian that was called Whisky.

I am not a connoisseur of spirits, neither am I a marketing guru but it seems a simple evening out now needs me to know my spirit. Which country? What ingredient? How many years old? What cask? What temperatures? And more…

Then again, if I need to survive, I must know the brand. It reminds me of my stint on air with Radio City. Listeners especially from Seelampur and Regarpura (representative TG for most stations that make the numbers for any research) would invariably call in to request ‘Salman Khan’ songs. And more often than not say Mirchi City or FM City or some such deviated conjunction of words. And if you tried to correct them, pat would be the reply “After all its only FM – City, Red or Mirchi what difference does it make?”

I guess, it’s time for me to wake up from the ignoramus and be aware of the choices I make.  Taking refuge in being simple is just going to herd me with the masses of Seelampur and beyond.

In a country like India, where whiskey still isn’t tasted but is gulped and for kicks, the likes of Johnny Walker have a task ahead in educating people like me to differentiate between Black Label and Red Label. Warm, Smooth, Mature and Single are adjectives that make ‘whiskey’ sound like a ‘lady’. Maybe it’s on purpose and is a well thought through marketing strategy. Since a lady demands respect and so should it be with a whiskey. Treat her any other way and well, hell hath no fury.

So as my first baby step towards brand enlightenment (Thank You Google), I learnt that Bourbon is a term for whiskey from the American South, specifically Kentucky. It is made primarily from corn and while Jack Daniel’s is also corn based it is from the south eastern state of Tennessee. Ergo, I can now proudly comment through my next tete-a-tete over  whiskey that Jack Daniel’s is definitely not a Bourbon.

And by the way, unlike most self-respecting whiskey brands, that pride themselves to be had best on the rocks, Jack and Coke break the pretentious shackles. One part Jack Daniel’s Old No 7 and three parts Coke – served on the rocks, in a tall glass, garnished with a slice of lime, proves to be an ideal recipe to a cool evening through these hot summer days. Cheers!

The views expressed here are of the author alone, and do not necessarily reflect the views of Pitch

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