Jack Daniel's and Ginger: Does the Ginger Ale Make a Difference?
A Texas upstart gets its revenge.
Photos by John Kiely
I'm not one to drink Jack Daniel's Tennessee Whiskey straight, due to the thin and faintly acrid sweetness that comes from filtering the spirit through sugar maple charcoal. However, it's that exact flavor that mysteriously makes Jack Daniel's Old No. 7 a great mixer, particularly with Coca-Cola, eggnog (Borden's Supreme, no nutmeg) and ginger ale.
While the taste of Coca-Cola and eggnog are generally constant, ginger ales can vary wildly, so in the spirit of curiosity and a fourth-grade science experiment, I decided to put a range of ginger ales to the test, to find a good one, or to see if the choice of ginger ale mattered at all.
Canada Dry: Bottled in Texas with high fructose corn syrup, it's not too sweet, bland, and the corn syrup dulls the taste of ginger.
Dublin Ginger Ale: Bottled in Texas with cane sugar, it's mildly but pleasantly sweet, not strong on the ginger flavor, but it tastes great plain as a soda pop.
Dr.Brown's Extra Dry Ginger Ale: Bottled in New York with sugar and/or high fructose corn syrup, this particular bottle had both sugar and syrup, slightly tart and dry.
Blenheim Ginger Ale: Bottled in South Carolina with sucrose, it's crisply sweet, with a strong ginger taste. Though listed as natural flavoring, it has capsaicin, the chile pepper extract that causes many ginger beers to give you a punch in the sinuses. Blenheim is more closely a ginger beer than a ginger ale.
Ale-8-1 (A Late One): Bottled in Kentucky with corn syrup, it's as dull as the Canada Dry, with even less ginger taste.
White Rock Ginger Ale: Bottled in New York with pure cane sugar, it has a clean sugar taste, more ginger than the Canada Dry, and it's almost as good as the Dublin, which is the best of the plain ginger ales in this test.
Bundaberg Ginger Beer: Bottled in Australia with sugar, it has a powerful ginger taste, with a defined sugar sweetness, and a yeast taste. It doesn't have capsaicin, so it's more of a ginger ale, which is why I included Bundaberg in this test.
The Jack Daniel's website lists a Jack & Ginger as 1 part Jack and 3 parts ginger ale with a slice of lime. I've found that 2 ounces of Jack Daniel's with 4½ ounces to be a much tastier, though stronger mix, so I tested it like that, without lime, to get a better idea of the ginger ales' tastes.
Canada Dry: The corn syrup took out the whiskey taste. Dead last of the plain ginger ales.
Dublin: The sugar and light ginger enhanced the taste of the whiskey, and made it bloom.
Dr. Brown's: The drink was a little sweet, but there's another taste, one of the "other natural flavors" listed on the label, that makes this ginger ale considerably more interesting with Jack Daniel's.
Blenheim: The capsaicin totally overwhelmed the whiskey taste, even when I remixed it with less Blenheim. After the test, I just added a splash of Blenheim and a lime slice to the Jack, and it made a unique but good variation.
Ale-8-1: Pretty good, though with sugar instead of corn syrup, it would probably be better.
White Rock: Works almost as well as the Dublin.
Bundaberg: Completely overwhelmed the whiskey with the ginger and yeast taste. Bundaberg is an amazing ginger beverage, but not a good mixer.
No matter how you mix it, Dr. Brown's comes out on top, with Dublin a close second.
With a Slice of Lime
I quickly remixed all of the drinks with the official Jack Daniel's 1-to 3-ratio, but the results didn't vary. Dr. Brown's still came out the winner, with Dublin second, followed by White Rock. When I added lime to both mixes, the Dr. Brown's got even better, as did the Dublin and White Rock. The lime also cut through the corn syrup of the Ale-8-1, making it worthy of its popularity in Kentucky and Tennessee.
The Canada Dry Ginger Ale was bottled under the authority of Dr Pepper of Plano, Texas--the company that took away a Dr Pepper franchise from Dublin Bottling Works for making Dr Pepper better with sugar. Dublin has responded by making a ginger ale that is way better than Canada Dry, whether you drink it plain or with Jack Daniel's.
Rocket Fizz has sodas from all over the world.
Dr. Brown's and Ale-8-1 can be found at Rocket Fizz in Rice Village, Dublin is at Kroger, and White Rock is at Spec's Liquors.
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