It might sound like a Mexican cowboy’s name, but Yukon Jack is actually a little-known liqueur with some serious oomph!
Better known as ‘The black sheep of Canadian liquors’, it is 100 proof (in America, 80% in Canada). This heady concoction is made from Canadian whisky and honey - the golden nectar of the honey provides a natural sweetener to this otherwise spicy and potent drink. Those who think this liqueur is more ‘Yuk’ than ‘Yukon’ liken it to drinking ‘gasoline’, while others describe it as a ‘very strong and very sweet’ drink with fruity undertones.
How did it come about?
The first record of Yukon Jack can be traced back to 1970s America, reportedly imported by a food and drink company in Connecticut. The same one that brought us finger lickin’ chicken from that well known Colonel!
Because of its strength and characteristic potent flavour, the company knew that it deserved an equally strong name. Rumour has it that it draws inspiration from the 19th century gold-rush pioneer Jack McQuesten.
A rebel from the outset, the drink was titled “The Black Sheep of Canadian Liquors” which helped with ‘talkability’. In true ‘Mad Men’ style, it enjoyed a long and successful advertising campaign that made it a hit back in the 70s. This led to a peak in sales, with its ‘100 proof’ tagline serving to help its subversive image.
Yukon Jack Today
In the 1990s, alcohol monoliths Diageo took ownership of the company, but discontinued its long-stretch of successful adverts. One of the major players in the world of spirits, Diageo has a portfolio of drinks brands, such as Smirnoff Vodka, Gordons gin and Johnnie Walker, to name some of its more popular drinks.
Although Yukon Jack may have had its time in the spotlight, it still earns a respectful keep, often found in the corners of drinks cabinets and dive bars in the USA!
Comparisons have naturally been made to ‘the other Jack’ hailing from Tennessee. Jack Daniels Tennessee honey might be as close to a palatable version you’ll get, although at 35% proof, it is only a fraction of Yukon Jack’s strength.
A curious drink, Yukon Jack is not the easiest to come by. It’s most commonly found in dedicated whisky curators collections and online shops from £40.65. There are variants in the range, including; Jacapple and Wicked Hot Liqueur, for those who can handle their drink!
Raising a Glass
For a drink as distinctive and unusual as Yukon Jack, it should be reserved for special occasions. Vintage, but not in quite the same way that an aged bottle of wine might be, Yukon Jack could be a fitting aperitif to a business deal, university graduation or another coming-of-age moment!
Appealing to the hardiest of drinkers, Yukon Jack can be consumed straight or on the rocks. But if you just want a gentle kick from its after-murmur, then try mixing it with fruit based juices or liqueurs, here’s a few tried and tested ‘yuktails’ as we like to call them:
A charming name for an equally charming drink! For this sprightly number, you’ll need 1 oz of Yukon Jack, 1 0z of peach schnapps and 1 oz of orange juice. Mix the ingredients together with ice in a shaker and serve as a lucid shot!
For a tangy twist, you will need 1 part Yukon Jack, ½ part cherry brandy, 1 part Southern Comfort peach liqueur and a splash of sweet and sour mix. Mix ingredients together and shake well before serving.
The Crystal Virgin
Probably as virginal as this classic drink gets, add 1 oz of Yukon Jack with ¾ oz amaretto almond liqueur and 2 ¼ of cranberry juice. Shake ingredients together along with ice before straining into shot glasses.