Drinking Jack Daniel’s With Country Music Star Chase Rice
We talked to the star musician, who just scored his first No. 1 hit song, about whiskey and life on the road.
Chase Rice’s bio reads like the back story of a character in the movie Talladega Nights: The Ballad of Ricky Bobby—college football player turned NASCAR pit crew member turned country musician and songwriter. To complete his Hollywood story arc, Rice’s song, “Eyes On You,” just reached number one on the country charts.
And, like many star crooners, including Frank Sinatra, his drink of choice is Jack Daniel’s (he likes it neat, or with a big square or sphere of ice).
“I’m whiskey all the way,” he says. “I’ll drink vodka every now and then, but whiskey all the way for the most part. Jack Daniel’s has always been my go-to.”
It’s a serious predilection: In homage to his favorite spirit, he recorded a ballad called “Jack Daniel’s and Jesus” and the upbeat party anthem “Jack Daniel’s Showed Up.” This weekend, he will most likely perform both at a special concert for firefighters—held at the Jack Daniel distillery—as part of a benefit for the National Volunteer Fire Council.
Rice, who grew up in North Carolina, loves the Tennessee whiskey so much, he bought two barrels of the stuff. “Those things are expensive. You’re paying for every bottle you get,” he says. But it’s worth it. “It’s a cool thing,” he explains. “People are blown away, especially if I give them a bottle. They’re usually pretty excited. I would be, too, if someone gave me their [personal bottle].”
He got the first one, a cask of the brand’s potent 94-proof Single Barrel, back in 2015. “I got the 19th barrel of 2015. I still have some cases of that left,” he says. Then, last summer, he came back and bought a cask-strength barrel at an even heartier 132-proof. The best part of buying his own barrel was that he got to go the distillery to select the whiskey he wanted. “You sit there and you smell ’em, you drink ’em, you sip ’em. There’s a whole art to it,” he says. “And then you just pick your favorite one.” And for the cask-strength barrel, Jack Daniel’s master distiller Jeff Arnett tasted the samples with him. “We ended up picking the same one,” Rice tells me proudly.
That barrel has particular significance for Rice: He had the brand bottle the whiskey on his father’s birthday. It’s been ten years since he passed away. “Each bottle has its own plaque that’s his tombstone. So, I don’t give those away, unless it’s family,” he says. Was his Dad a big whiskey drinker? “He was a beer guy, actually,” he says. “I don’t know where I got the whiskey from but I’m a big whiskey guy.”
All that whiskey comes in handy when he tours. His bus is stocked with bottles from each barrel and he travels with a portable bar, which he calls Pub 44 (named for the number he wore when he played football at the University of North Carolina). It’s “right outside the tour bus every night,” he says. “We have a blast there.”
Besides whiskey, is there a house cocktail at Pub 44? “That’s a little too sophisticated for us,” he admits. Although, after shows, he admits to drinking Jack & Coke. “I’ll drink as much as I feel like,” he says, “because my job is done.”