The 2014 Barrel Series at the Queen Mary in Long Beach last night as a sold-out crowd enjoyed the Jack Daniel’s Dinner. Both the food, paired by Executive Chef Todd Henderson and the choices of some of Jack Daniel’s fine aged whiskeys, culminating in the presentation of the Queen Mary’s Barrel No. 2 by Twain Schreiber, the Queen Mary’s Director of Food and Beverage, who personally flew to Lynchburg, Tennessee to choose the blend crafted especially for the Queen Mary. Finally, over some delicious Cohiba cigars including the Limited Edition Comador from General Cigar, the crowd enjoyed their Jack Daniel’s Queen Mary Barrel No. 3 Whiskey under cloudy, slightly drizzly skies that did nothing to dampen the spirits of the guests who attended. It certainly did not dampen my tastes whom the Queen Mary generously invited to partake in the event. A Photo Essay is at the end of the story.
The evening was hosted by Jesse James, Jack Daniel’s Official Taster and Brand Ambassador. “It took a lot of training for Jesse to become the Official Taster. “Well I’ve been drinking Jack Daniel’s since I was of legal drinking age”, he began. “Several years ago I approached the brand to go to work with them and I use the term ‘work’ loosely because when you love your job as much as I do it’s not work’. The evening had started off with passed hors d’oeuvres such as a BBQ Pork and Brown Sugar Barquette and a Smoked Trout and Dill Canape. The beverage of choice for the cocktail time was Jack Daniel’s with lemonade, otherwise known as Lynchburg Lemonade.
At the dinner tables, the guests got their First Course, a marvelous Smoked 5 Onion Soup, with a Gruyere Crust and a small Capicola Panini perched on top. Jesse introduced Jack Daniel’s White Rabbit Saloon for every one’s tasting pleasure, a limited edition Whiskey named after ‘Mr. Jack’s’ White Rabbit Saloon in Lynchburg’s public square where folks gathered to drink his whiskey. Jesse James led the crowd through the tasting, highlighting the notes of caramel, vanilla and other spices in the delicious whiskey.
The Second Course was an absolutely delicious Teryiaki Glazed Ahi, the ahi ‘kissed’ by the sauce with the fish still raw and very fresh. Also on the plate was a wonton chip with a Shiitake, Pepper and Daikon Slaw. Jesse did an interesting comparison for this course, bringing out samples of both the Unaged Rye and the Rested Rye. He explained that while the rested rye could be called rye whiskey since it had aged in an oak barrel, the unaged rye could not be called that, Instead, unaged rye seemed to get a lot of names, even ‘moonshine’. The comparison was really noticeable, with the unaged rye with a unique aroma, from the grains and very different than the mellower aged rye. Taste wise, though, the unaged rye was surprisingly smooth with hints of fruit and the more pronounced aroma of the grain. Produced in a very limited edition, this is the first new recipe Jack Daniel’s has created since Prohibition. It is well worth tasting if you can find it.
As the Third Course, an Olive Oil and Crushed Red Pepper Marinated Angus Sirloin with a Tennessee Honey Demi-Glace was presented, Jesse told a story about the next whiskey to be presented, the Frank Sinatra Blend. “Frank Sinatra was introduced to Jack Daniel’s by Jackie Gleason. Jackie Gleason was a big fan of Jack Daniel’s and Frank Sinatra took a drink of it, one night in a small bar and became an instant fan of the Jack Daniel’s that we make there in Lynchburg. We never paid him a penny to endorse the product”, Jesse said. “He was known to make sure that Jack Daniel’s was in a lot of his movies. As you know, Jack Daniel’s has appeared in many movies. We’ve never paid any one to endorse our product in a movie which is quite unheard of. But Frank Sinatra thought that Jack Daniel’s had such a ‘cool’ factor to it that he wanted to be affiliated with Jack Daniels.”
Jesse continued to explain the rest of the story. “As I was telling you earlier tonight, when he was in Las Vegas, Frank Sinatra wore a blazer. Sinatra was always a very well dressed man and he wore a blazer, custom made, with a patch with ‘Jack Daniel’s Country Club’ embroidered on it. A lot of his friends would ask him about that. ‘Where is that? How do you become a member of that?’ In Frank Sinatra style, he would tip his hat and say, ‘The membership is very exclusive. You probably wouldn’t qualify to be a member’. So back in the day, it was a big thing to be a member of some country clubs and there was a lot of bragging rights that went along with being a member of a country club. And to be a member of the ‘Jack Daniel’s Country Club’, Frank Sinatra thought that was really, really fun!”
The Fourth Course paired one of the special barrels of whiskey personally chosen by Twain in Lynchburg, the Queen Mary’s Barrel No. 2. This was paired with an excellent Pecan and Salted Caramel Tart, topped with Double Chocolate Ice Cream. Finally, the crowd went to the Verandah Deck outside, where the slight dampness and cloudy skies did not deter anyone’s enjoyment of some of the Barrel No. 3’s Queen Mary Blend. Lana and , from General Cigars, again scored a hit as they brought some wonderful Cohiba Cigars to enjoy on the deck as the guests sipped their whiskey. A special Comador cigar from Jay Z’s new line was among those available to try and it was smooth and very easy to smoke.
As Jesse told the Examiner at the end, “The venue was unbelievable. This ship here has so much history. I’ve been doing a little research on the history and I’m getting chills now as I stand here on the deck. The food, the ship…..Chef Todd did a magnificent job, he has a lot of passion for Jack Daniels’s, he love Jack Daniel’s and tonight, with the food pairings, it came out. They did a great job pairing some unique flavors of the Jack Daniel’s whiskey with some unique foods and I have not heard one negative thing said here about the food or whiskey tonight. Everybody is leaving after having a good time, and what a way to finish the evening, on the deck with the stars shining and with a nice cigar!”.
1126 Queens Highway
Long Beach, CA 90802