But that's not saying much
EC: Jack Daniel's Whiskey Coffee Is Better Than Plain Old Whiskey and Coffee
Credit: Photos by Teresa Sabga

If you are of the belief that hot beverages and alcohol are the perfect match, Jack Daniel's Tennessee Whiskey Coffee was made just for you. Jack Daniel's has infused 100 percent Arabica coffee with Jack Daniel's Tennessee Whiskey. The brew is now available for purchase pre-ground or in bean form, caffeinated or decaf. If, however, your reaction upon hearing that the brew is also nonalcoholic is one of disappointment, you, like us, may wonder why you wouldn't just take a mug of black coffee and add some whiskey to it. Well, wonder no longer.

I sampled a cup of Jack Daniel's Tennessee Whiskey Coffee along side a cup of Blue Bottle's Three Africans coffee with a shot of Jack Daniel's Single Barrel Select Tennessee Whiskey and can now tell you exactly why you wouldn't—and shouldn't—do this. I like coffee, and I like whiskey. And while I’m by no means an expert on either, I do have working taste buds and can now say with some authority that these two things are not good together. Sure, Irish coffee is eminently drinkable. The blend of coffee, warming whiskey, and sugar and cream certainly has supporters. But whiskey that tastes like coffee, and black coffee with a shot of whiskey—who is this for?

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The canister of ground Jack Daniel's coffee greets the nose with a sickly sweet aroma—an aroma that dissuaded many a coworker from giving the brewed form a shot. But I soldiered on. Luckily, the sweet whiskey scent is subdued in the final cup of coffee, and the first sip was much better than I had expected. It tasted like whiskey—if you were to warm whiskey and mix it with watery coffee. While this is not my preferred vehicle for whiskey flavor, as I sipped, it got better. Or, I got used to it. The unpleasant whiskey-coffee aftertaste lingered, but I can say that it is not the worst thing that I have ever consumed on the job—that came next.

I had high hopes for this most basic of coffee cocktails. After all, the ingredients were simple and of high quality. Unfortunately, the only thing the combination of Single Barrel Select Tennessee Whiskey and Blue Bottle's Three Africans coffee has to recommend it is the alcohol, and that's not much. The buzz you get from combining a shot of Jack Daniel’s Single Barrel Select Tennessee Whiskey (and that’s nice whiskey!) with black coffee is not worth suffering the taste.

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The fruity notes of the Blue Bottle coffee combined with the caramel and cinnamon notes of the Single Barrel Select Tennessee Whiskey to produce a taste that had all the sourness of fruit and acridity of whiskey. The primary, overwhelming tasting note of the DIY whiskey coffee could best be described as cat urine, but not in the way that a serviceable New Zealand sauvignon blanc will sometimes have hints of cat pee. This urinous odor hits you in the nose and lingers in the mouth long after the first sip. It was not at all good.

I'm not sure why one would want to drink coffee that tastes like whiskey. Some people have a misguided belief that two great things can combine to form something better. Sadly, you can't have an invigorating cup of coffee with whiskey taste, or whiskey's depressive effects with all the delicious comfort of a hot mug of coffee. At least not in a way that pleases the tastebuds. Whiskey and coffee are at their best at different times of the day, in separate drinking vessels. Trust.