January 2023 was my first opportunity to meet Jared James Nichols. He was playing a sold-out secret show in Los Angeles to celebrate the release of his newest record. It’s a self-album with 12 tracks of mind melting blue power jams that is a mandatory addition to your playlists.
With support from Whiskey Network Family members Robert Jon and the Wreck, it was a truly magical evening. Following the show, he was keen to interact with his fans and they just can’t get enough of him. It says a lot about an artist when they honor their fans in such a way.
Born in Waukesha, WI, he shares the same birthplace of Les Paul. The guitar, the music, and the mythos are baked into his DNA. He’s a tall and imposing figure and radiates his own brand of warrior energy that is worthy of hallowed halls of Valhalla. However, the axes he wields are a coveted duo of stunning guitars: an Epiphone Les Paul Custom P90 (with a single Seymour Duncan P-90 in the bridge position) named Old Glory and a vintage original 1953 Gibson Les Paul named Ole Red. With his dynamic pick-less playing style, he effortlessly delivers bombastic blues-rock anthems that give a nod to the legends of the genre while simultaneously showcasing his own essence.
This conquering warrior of Blues Power has been quite busy. Since his debut album in 2015 (Old Glory & the Wild Revival) he has since been on a mission to bring his special brand of guitar potency to the world. The industry has taken swift notice of his talent and he’s toured with a list of top shelf acts: ZZ Top, Kid Rock, Glen Hughes, Saxon, UFO, and Zakk Wilde. His time with Lynyrd Skynyrd is important and he shares this with me during our discussion (read about this in the interview). In 2021, he was named as a global brand ambassador for Gibson Guitars. Also, he is additionally endorsed by Seymour Duncan, Blackstar Amplification, and DR strings.
Fast forward to May of 2023 and Jared James Nichols is going to be performing to another sold out crowd at the Viper Room in West Hollywood, CA. It’s familiar territory for him, as one of his early EP’s was a live recording in the same room, and he’s made frequent appearances in this legendary venue. He hits the stage like a dynamo and dives right into the music, the crowd swells with energy. He absorbs this energy and channels it into every second of his performance. It is an unforgettable evening of music and celebration.
We are proud to present our triple shot of Jared James Nichols: exploring whiskey, tasting 3 whiskeys, and music. Be sure to also check out his amazing story involving whiskey and music. It’s legendary!
Read on to see the details of our discussion.
What are your earliest memories of whiskey?
That would be watching my dad drink it. He was a construction worker and would come home, open a beer, crack an egg in it, drink it down, and then chase it with whiskey. As I got older, I can remember studying the bottles and thinking to myself, “…this is what adults drink!”
A raw egg in a beer?! Can you recall what whiskey he was drinking at the time?
Yeah, I don’t know. Maybe he skipped lunch and was hungry. As far as the whiskey is concerned, it was mostly bottom of the barrel stuff.
When you began to drink whiskey on your own, what did you drink?
Of course, I saw my dad drinking some brands, so it was easy for me to start with those. As a teenager in Wisconsin, I remember being with my friends and having sips of whiskey. At the time, we weren’t concerned about taste or brands, so it didn’t matter if it was Jack Daniels or Jim Beam. If we were lucky, we had Makers Mark.
When I got to the point where I could drink on a rider when I was playing, I made sure that whiskey was always on the list. Some places would give us something decent, but we always ended up with Jack Daniels. Is it wrong to say that it is “the McDonalds of whiskey”? I have toured the world and no matter where we go, they could always get us a bottle of Jack Daniels. Just like the Big Mac.
The exception was Egypt, they did not have Jack. They had Four Roses, and I liked it right then and there. It’s like “the Burger King” of whiskey now.
You mentioned your tour rider. Can you give us an idea of what is on yours?
I wish I could tell you it was a huge thing, but it’s a simple one-page deal. Straight up, our rider used to be a veggie tray, cheese tray, fresh fruit, tea, Red Bull, trail mix, protein bars, a hot meal, and a few other things. Whether we were in a small club, or in an opening slot for Lynyrd Skynyrd, we would walk into the same thing. Most times, it wasn’t everything we asked for, either.
I was looking one day and saw that there was a buyout for the rider. That’s when I told the team that we should have a small rider and then I could pay them so they could do something on their own. For whiskey, I realized that venues were over charging us for the bottles. How about you just give me the $90 instead, and I’ll buy the same bottle for $20 and get a nice hot meal from a local place.
So, the days of “no brown M&M’s” are past us. I think they’ve been gone for some time. One final question about whiskey, what flavors do you prefer now?
It depends on my mood, really. Sometimes, I want something that burns when it goes down. There are times where I just like that sensation. There is nothing wrong with whiskey that has a spicy finish, that is always nice, too. I can tell you that I don’t like whiskey that is sugary sweet. It just doesn’t sit right with me and that’s not good when I’m on the road and on tour.
At the moment, my favorite whiskey is (Nelson’s) Green Brier. I like the taste, it has a nice burn to it, and it has a charcoal note that I like. I just love the stuff.
There’s a great story behind Nelson’s Green Brier product. Check that out in your spare time, it’s a great story about whiskey and family. Speaking of stories, sharing whiskey is a great conduit to stories. With your extensive work and time on the road, can you share a whiskey story for the audience?
I was just thinking about this the other day. Gary Rossington from Lynyrd Skynyrd passed away the other day (rest in peace). There is a classic bond between me, Gary, and a bottle of Jack Daniels.
One of my first big shows ever was in 2015 at Sturgis. Lynyrd Skynyrd was playing in the amphitheater that night and everyone had to go through the parking lot… where I was playing. I’m up on that stage playing my heart out and all of the sudden this guy walks up to the side of the stage. He’s wearing a Skynyrd laminate. About 10 minutes later, three more of these dudes show up and they are all watching intently. Finally, the Tour Manager for the band shows up.
I’m a little worried at this point, not knowing what to expect. Finally, Rickey Medlocke and Gary Rossington show up. I think they are digging it and just watching me do my thing. Just like that they all go away. When I’m done, I get a note from the sound guy and the band wants to meet me in their dressing room. I start to head back there and I’m thinking that this is completely insane. I grew up in Wisconsin and was a HUGE Skynyrd fan. It was the soundtrack to everyone’s lives back there.
There I am, talking to Lynyrd Skynyrd. What do they do? They offer me whiskey. Now, I’m backstage drinking Jack Daniels with the band. Next, they start asking me questions about where I am from and what my plans are. At the time, I was about to get on a plane and head to Europe for the second time ever. It just so happened that they were also heading that way.
They asked me if I’d like to open some shows for them. In my head, I’m thinking this will never happen. A week later, I got the phone call and I’m going to open six shows for the band. Shows in France, Germany, Austria, and Switzerland… I remember playing the Gastometer in Vienna, which is an old gas plant, and I kept thinking “What am I doing here?” Another time, Gary (Rossington) walked up to my amp during the sound check and made some adjustments to it. It sounded better.
He had this thing where he would wink and nod. He’d be standing on the side of the stage sipping whiskey and would give me the wink and nod. On the last show of the tour in Germany, it was 18,000 people and completely SOLD OUT. I get done with my set, I’m sweaty and out of breath. Gary is waiting for me and then invites me to come on stage. We’re going to jam “Sweet Home Alabama” together. I immediately go back to the dressing room, tell my band what is happening, and then start listening to the song to make sure I remember all the parts. I’ve got my sipper of whiskey.
It’s the encore and they plug me into an old stack of Marshall Amps. I walked out on stage with my guitar, and that whiskey. It was the biggest crowd I’d ever played in front of. Gary kicks it off and I’m freaking out. I gave it everything I had.
I will never forget how amazing they were to me.
He just passed away and I immediately thought of the whole experience.
This is such an amazing story on all fronts. Completely speechless. Thanks for sharing. Also, rest in peace, Gary Rossington.
When we met in Los Angeles in January, I shared 3 samples from my personal collection with you. Let’s taste each one and discuss.
Got them right here. Let’s go!
First up, let’s taste Three Chord Bourbon Strange Collaboration.
This brand is the amazing creation of Neil Giraldo and his dream team. All their expressions are fantastic, but this one is special. A portion of the proceeds of this bottle go to the Johnny Strange foundation; it’s a good cause that is near and dear to Neil’s heart. This is a straight bourbon whiskey finished in pinot noir barrels. This is 99 proof.
Nose: I like the way it smells. It’s a high note, I think it is cherry. Also, there is a hint of butterscotch. I can’t wait to taste this.
Taste: WOW! This is a really good whiskey. I get classic bourbon notes of caramel and vanilla, and I do taste a note of cherry buried in there. This is a great sipping whiskey, for sure.
Agree with your take here. Again, this is a special whiskey in many ways. However, at the heart of this is just a rock-solid whiskey with those classic notes. This is easy to drink and tastes amazing.
The second sample is Blackened American Whiskey – Cask Strength Limited Edition.
It’s a blend of straight whiskeys finished in black brandy casks. This started a partnership between Metallica and Dave Pickerell (rest in peace), then Rob Dietrich came on board to preserve the legacy that Dave began and stuart the brand into the future. This is 114.73 proof and is from batch 121.
How about we give it a taste?
This is interesting to me.
Nose: there are quite a few things I’m picking up. There is a hint of perfume, and it has a sweet smell.
Taste: My lips are burning, and it’s got a nice slow burn going down. It’s not as sweet as it smells. The longer it sits, the more I get classic whiskey notes.
This bottle is widely available and costs around $75. It’s an incredible value on the landscape of whiskey and it has a great flavor profile.
The last sample is ZZ Top Tres Hombres by Balcones, and it’s Texas Whisky.
This is made from three Texas grown grains, corn, barley, and rye. It is a direct collaboration between the band and Jared Himstedt at Balcones. It is 100 proof.
Let’s taste this one.
I’m curious to try this.
Nose: Higher (sweeter) notes on the nose. The smell of corn is very strong, and it’s burning my nostrils a bit. There is a lower note like cinnamon that is also coming out.
Taste: This is a relaxing whiskey. This is hitting me nicely and it’s easy to drink. Classic whiskey flavors of caramel and vanilla here, and not too sweet. This is another sipping whiskey for sure. I could go on sipping this all day.
You’ve had a chance to taste all three of these. Which one is your favorite?
I keep going back to the ZZ Top Tres Hombres. When I close my eyes and take it all in, this gives me an old school feel. It’s simple and I like the straightforward whiskey flavor. It’s got something that appeals to me.
The Three Chord Bourbon Strange Collaboration is also something special, though. It’s so hard to choose favorites. Of course, Blackened by Metallica is exceptional. Can I pick all three?
Let’s get into music. Can you talk about the music that caught your interest when you were younger?
When I was a kid, things like Patsy Cline and Santo & Johnny were the sounds that grabbed me. To this day, I still love the sound of steel guitar. When I got a little older, it was the sounds of classic rock radio because my parents listened to that. My dad would listen to Dylan, Mountain, Hendrix, and Cream. That’s when I would start to really get into it and listen more to the things that had the right punch for me.
When I picked up the guitar, it was game over. My taste in music went wild and I was getting into Sabbath, Skynyrd, Allman Brothers Band, and all the classic guitar driven music. At the same time, there was a new crop of bands like Alice in Chains and Pearl Jam on the radio. All of it influenced me.
Do you recall the first record you ever bought?
Funny story… it was a Weird Al Yankovic CD. It was also my first concert. I was with my family at a resort in Wisconsin where the Packers were training. I’m talking about all the OG Packers like Brett Favre, Gilbert Brown, and Reggie White. Weird Al was playing that night and we were invited to check it out. The lights… the music… the show… it was everything and I was hooked. I went to Wal-Mart and bought the CD the next week.
That’s a great story and what a core memory! Continuing with music, you are currently supporting your newest and self-titled record. What is the plan for the remainder of 2023, and do you have plans for new music soon?
We just got done touring Europe from January to March 2023. Right now, I’m home and writing new music. I love saying that, by the way. In April we will kick off again and hit the East Coast of the US and make our way across to the West Coast. All of June and through part of July will be in Europe. I’m hoping to make some announcements about US festival dates very soon. From there, I’m planning a headline US tour in the fall and then back to Europe. That takes us to Thanksgiving. With most of this year spent on the road, I am looking forward to recording a new album over the holidays.
My latest record is a great one and I want to push it for a while. Truth be told, I have so many songs that are ready to go. We are already talking about it and I’m looking forward to getting into the studio again. I’m hoping for around Christmas, but it will depend on how we feel after being on the road for most of the year!
Let’s make sure in 2024 when you have new music that you come back.
We can make it a tradition!
What are the platforms where fans can find out more about your tour dates and music?
They are all updated constantly. The easiest one is Facebook and there is a ton of info there, but I am on all the popular social media sites. Also, you can always go to www.jaredjamesnichols.com to get more in-depth information.
It is our tradition at the Whiskey Network to ask our guests the same final 5 questions, also known as the
Mashbill: Whiskey Network Wants to Know Your Recipe
Question 1: What was the last whiskey, bourbon, or scotch in your glass?
That would be Buffalo Trace. It’s so good and we finished the bottle…
Question 2: Do you prefer to drink your whiskey from a specific type of glass?
I do, I like the rocks glass. I don’t want ice in my glass, just whiskey. Just straight whiskey in a short glass. Simple.
Question 3: Do you have a Unicorn bottle?
I have such a long journey to get further into whiskey. I don’t have a unicorn bottle just yet. I do have a long list of whiskey that I do want to try!
Question 4: I’m looking for a gift for a friend. My budget is around $50 to $75. What would you recommend I buy?
There are two choices I’d offer. Buffalo Trace or the Green Brier. Solid choices.
Question 5: What is your favorite toast?
It sounds cheesy, but I just say “cheers”. When we are about to go on stage, I always say “cheers to a great fucking show!” Then, I’ll say “SHOWTIME!”
On behalf of Whiskey Network Magazine, thank you for taking the time to speak with us. We look forward to hearing more about your music and ongoing whiskey journey soon!
We are proud and excited to welcome Jared James Nichols to the Whiskey Network Family. His new, self-titled record is available now and is mandatory listening for rock and blues fans across the spectrum. 2023 is going to be a blur of live shows, so make sure to follow his social media accounts and check his web site for updates. His live performances are worth the time, make sure to check him out on the road. He’s always down for some whiskey! His palate is well developed, and he’s tasted a wide variety of bottles. We look forward to his continued whiskey journey.