MW:What does it feel like to be only 33 and in such a pivotal position at Jack Daniel’s?
CF: It is very special for me to be working in the same distillery that my grandfather Frank Bobo, the fifth Jack Daniel’s Master Distiller, worked in for over 30 years. The community of Lynchburg takes great pride in providing the world with the best whiskey possible. I am very happy to be a part of that.
MW: Tell us what you learnt from your grandfather.
CF: He is a great resource for how to make sure we stay true to Jack’s original process. While he was master distiller, the brand grew tremendously. He had to make sure that every drop was still made to the same flavour that our friends enjoyed all over the world. He obviously did a great job, and we are going to make sure we do the exact same thing in the future.
MW:You started out as a tour guide at the facilities. Tell us something about your journey from there.
CF: Being a tour guide was the best summer job anyone could have. I was able to meet visitors from all over the world everyday. Plus, you get paid just to talk!
MW: What’s the principal difference between American and Scottish whisky – apart from the spelling?
CF: Tennessee and Bourbon whiskies are mostly made from corn and are always matured in brand new, charred oak barrels. At Jack Daniel’s, we make our own barrels instead of buying them from other companies, and we mellow our whiskey through charcoal that we make at the distillery. This is part of what makes Jack Daniel’s unique in the world of whiskies.
MW: What would you say to a newbie who asked you “Why should I drink JD?”
CF: I would say that with our family of whiskeys, we have a product for any palate. The flavours that we are able to create during the maturation process can be very soft and mellow, like in Gentleman Jack, or robust and rich like in our Single Barrel expression. I believe we have a whiskey that can be enjoyed by someone new to whiskey or someone that is very experienced.
MW: If you had to create an ‘India special’ variant of Jack Daniel’s, what would it taste like?
CF: This one is tough! I think Gentleman Jack may be the perfect whiskey to balance spicy Indian cuisine. Gentleman Jack is charcoal- mellowed a second time after we remove the whiskey from the barrel. The result is an incredibly soft and smooth finish. I think this smoothness would pair perfectly with the complex spices found in Indian cooking. So, I think we already make a perfect whiskey for India!
MW: Tell us about a killer Jack Daniel’s cocktail recipe.
CF: It’s called a Lynchburg Lemonade. You mix together 1 part Jack Daniel’s Old No. 7, 1 part Triple Sec, 1 part sour mix and
4 parts lemon-lime soda and stir it. Garnish it with a lemon slice and cherry.
MW: Other than Jack Daniel’s, what are some whiskies that you enjoy drinking?
CF: I always enjoy trying spirits from around the world. My favourite, however, is Jack Daniel’s Single Barrel.
MW: What’s the best part of your job?
CF: Well, tasting our whiskeys every day to ensure consistency is obviously one of the best things! I also enjoy travelling from time to time to talk to our friends all over the world about Jack Daniel’s.
MW: What variant of Jack Daniel’s would you choose to be stranded on a desert island with?
CF: Old Number 7