Difference between Jack Daniel’s and Bourbon

What is almost common knowledge about Jack Daniel’s is that it is a bourbon whiskey; this is somewhat true, but it is actually more of a Tennessee whiskey. Little did we know, with just an extra step in the process, it changes entirely the type of a whiskey.


Jack Daniel’s

Jack Daniel’s vs Bourbon
The Old No. 7 Jack Daniel’s with 40% Alcohol by Volume

One of the top selling whiskeys in the world, Jack Daniel’s is a brand of Tennessee whiskey that was founded by Jasper Newton, “Jack Daniel’s” himself. While the brand label states “Est. & Reg. in 1866”, it wasn’t actually established until 1875. It is produced in the city of Lynchburg, Tennessee by Jack Daniel Distillery, and has been owned by one of the largest American-owned companies in spirits and wine business, the Brown-Forman Corporation since 1956.

Like all other whiskeys, Jack Daniel’s goes through the same process, and is made from corn, malted barley, and rye. There is however one extra step known as the Lincoln Country Process that makes it different from all other whiskeys. It is a step where the whiskey is filtered through charcoal chips before going into the casks for aging. With this extra step, the company argues that the product is different from bourbon. However, under the terms of the North American Free Trade Agreement and Canadian Law, Tennessee whiskey is required to be a ‘straight bourbon whiskey’.

Different Labels

  • Old No. 7 – Also known as Black Label, at 40% ABV (Alcohol by Volume).
  • Gentleman Jack – Charcoal filtered twice, at 40% ABV.
  • Single Barrel – Sourced from a single barrel, at 40% ABV.
  • Tennessee Honey – Honey liqueur blended with less than 20% whiskey, at 35% ABV.
  • Tennessee Fire – Cinnamon Liqueur blended with less than 20% whiskey, at 35% ABV.
  • Green Label – Lighter-bodied bottling of Old No. 7, at 40% ABV.
  • Silver Select – For export only, at 50% ABV.
  • Winter Jack – Seasonal blends of apple cider and spices, at 15% ABV.
  • No. 27 Gold – Limited release, at 40% ABV.
  • Sinatra Select – Tribute to Mr. Frank Sinatra, at 45% ABV.
  • Sinatra Century – A limited edition honoring the 100th birthday of Frank Sinatra, at 50% ABV.
  • Single Barrel Proof – Can have an ABV as high as 62.6% to 70%.


Straight bourbon at 43.2% Alcohol by Volume

On a par with Jack Daniel’s, Bourbon is also one of the top selling whiskeys in the world that is made primarily from corn. The term Bourbon can be traced way back to the 1820s, and there is a dispute as to whether it was derived from Bourbon County in Kentucky or Bourbon Street in New Orleans. While a bourbon can be made anywhere in the United States, it is strongly associated with the southern part region of the U.S., Kentucky in particular.

What makes bourbon, bourbon, is that it is exclusively made in the United States. Aside from that, it also has to comply with regulations such as being made from a grain mixture that is at least 51% corn, being aged in new and charred oak barrels, being distilled to no more than 80% ABV, and being bottled at 40% ABV or more.

Jack Daniel’s vs Bourbon

What’s the difference between Jack Daniel’s and Bourbon? While both are in fact whiskeys, they do have some differences that distinguish them. Jack Daniel’s can be called a bourbon in some ways; it does have that extra step called the ‘Lincoln Country Process’ that changes it from what a bourbon should be, and is therefore known as a Tennessee Whiskey instead. Also, while a Jack Daniel’s can go from 15% up to 70% alcohol content, bourbon can go from 40% and up to 80%. One other, but important difference between the two, is that Jack Daniel’s is a whiskey brand, while bourbon is a type of American whiskey.

Comparison Chart

Jack Daniel’s Bourbon
Requires an extra step called ‘Lincoln Country Process’ Does not have an extra step
Made from corn, malted barley, and rye Made from at least 51% corn
Can go from 15% to 70% ABV Can go from 40% to 80% ABV
Made and produced in the United States Made and produced in the United States


Here is a video that can explain why Jack Daniel’s is not bourbon.