Review: The New Jack Daniel's Country Cocktails Hard Tea Lineup Is Easy On The Palate And Wallet

There's something secretly extraordinary about a zero-effort cocktail. Even for the most devout of cocktail aficionados and mixology devotees, reaching for one of the many popular store-bought canned cocktails, especially in the carefree days of summer, is hard to resist. To tap into that sweet summer mindset, Jack Daniel's has launched a new line of canned Hard Tea as a part of its Country Cocktails collection, available in fresh, summertime flavors to ease into the outdoor drinking season.

The ready-to-drink (RTD) cocktail category has seen an increase in value over the last year, with drinkers opting for ready-made cocktails instead of making cocktails at home. According to a report from IWSR Drinks Market Analysis, while the number of new RTD cocktails being introduced to the market has decreased, consumption has increased in recent years. The report notes that 45% of RTD drinkers enjoyed them weekly in 2023, up from 38% in 2022. "RTD cocktails have become more premium and sophisticated, which is driving growth in spirit-based products," said Marten Lodewijks, a IWSR consulting director. Additionally, the hard seltzer market has reached a "saturation point," leaving room for higher-strength RTD cocktails made with premium ingredients to continue to grow in popularity. 

Just in time for the warm-weather months, Jack Daniel's provided us with samples of the new Country Cocktails Hard Tea lineup to see if, as you fill up your outdoor coolers, these are worth including in the mix.

What is Jack Daniel's Country Cocktails Hard Tea?

Jack Daniel's Country Cocktails Hard Tea drinks combine black tea with a variety of fresh and fruity summertime flavors — peach, raspberry, and blackberry — in addition to original black tea flavor. Like all RTD cocktails, this new lineup attempts to make cocktail-ing as simple and freewheeling as possible, as all summer cocktails should be. Each 12-ounce can is 5% alcohol by volume.

For those familiar with the brand's previous RTD products — like the Jack Daniel's ginger ale canned cocktail and a Tennessee Honey lemonade — the Jack Daniel's Country Cocktails Hard Tea are a different offering. These hard teas are a malt beverage, somewhat similar to a beer.

According to the brand, Jack Daniel's Country Cocktails Hard Tea "redefines the hard tea experience," joining a growing list of RTD hard tea cocktails already on the market. With this new release, Jack Daniel's looks to be returning to its roots as a product ingrained in the South and Southern flavors. In comparison to Jack Daniel's current Country Cocktails lineup, featuring a wide range of flavors available in bottles, the Hard Tea cocktails seem to present a more traditional summer drink, focusing less on trendy flavors and more on ease of enjoyment and a little something for every palate.

Price and availability

For those who want to sample the full lineup, Jack Daniel's Country Cocktails Hard Tea comes in a 12-pack that has three of each flavor. This 12-pack is available in only 13 states across the U.S., namely Alabama, California, Georgia, Idaho, Illinois, Kentucky, Michigan, North Carolina, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas, and Wisconsin. Additionally, cans of the original and peach flavors will be available in single-serve cans across the aforementioned 13 states. 

These 12-packs are being sold for $14.99 retail, with the price possibly varying based on location. Compared to other 12-packs in the hard tea category, this is quite the bargain, with each Jack Daniel's 12-ounce can costing about $1.25. It's also a drop in price from the Jack Daniel's Country Cocktails variety pack, also made up of a dozen 12-ounce cans, which retails for over $20. Compared to other hard tea offerings, Jack Daniel's falls into the more affordable category. The well-known brand Twisted Tea sells at Walmart for almost $19, while the line of spiked iced tea by coffee giant Dunkin' is sold in a 12-pack of 12-oz cans for about $18. 

Taste test: Peach Hard Tea

Peach iced tea is my non-alcoholic drink of choice in the summer months, and if I didn't know that this was a canned cocktail, I might have thought it was freshly brewed in my kitchen only moments ago. Once I popped the top on the can, I immediately got the light, peachy aroma. A few sips out of the can, and I have to agree with the brand's marketing language that this is a sweet and balanced sip.

Like any good iced tea, this is best enjoyed in a glass with a few ice cubes and a lemon wedge, rather than straight out of the can. The tea is sweet but not cloying, and that freshly brewed tea flavor is clearly differentiated with subtle and fresh peach notes. The flavor doesn't linger too much or leave any fake sugary aftertaste, which I find a rare delight for a malt beverage. A little squeeze of lemon juice gives the tea some added brightness for a more well-rounded sip. If the brand wants to put any flavor out front to promote this new lineup, this is the one to get the job done.

Taste test: Raspberry Hard Tea

Raspberry iced tea, when made fresh, can be an absolute delight in the warm-weather months. I look forward to making it at home, using my favorite raspberry tea bags, a few raspberries, and a lemon wedge for garnish when it's ready to pour. With images of a slightly sweet, smooth sip from a glass beading with condensation in the summer heat, I had high hopes for this particular flavor, and I'm glad it hit the mark.

The aroma out of the can is pleasant; it's light and sweet, with fresh, juicy notes coming out right away. In a glass, it has a more sugary, fruity flavor than the peach iced tea, but it isn't overly rich or fake. The raspberry flavor is there for a moment, and then it's gone, with only the flavor of brewed iced tea remaining on the finish. I wish there was a little more fresh raspberry flavor in here, but if I were to add a few fresh berries in there myself, it just might be the perfect summer sip.

Taste test: Blackberry Hard Tea

The blackberry tea is where this iced tea lineup loses its luster. Blackberry can be a tough flavor to mimic in a drink — it's got a darker, juicier flavor than a raspberry or even a strawberry, and I find that a lot of brands just end up calling it "blue raspberry" rather than assign its beverage an actual fruit. I spent several minutes with my nose in the glass, searching for a hint of blackberry anywhere, and could not find it.

Flavor-wise, this is the least exciting of the country cocktail hard tea lineup. Rather than having a subtle, juicy flavor like the raspberry or peach, the blackberry tea has a more fake taste that lingers for a bit too long, and a pretty unpleasant aftertaste. Unlike the other flavors in this lineup, it was improved only slightly by a lot of ice and a full squeeze of a lemon wedge. If you're a fan of blackberries or blackberry tea and hope to get a refreshing, fruit-forward sip from this variety, this is not the tea you're looking for.

Taste test: Original Hard Tea

A well-brewed iced tea doesn't always need a fruity component — if it's not too weak and not overly brewed to the point of bitterness, it makes for the perfect beverage on its own. In a glass with a few ice cubes, the Jack Daniel's Original Hard Tea ticked that box for me.

A surprising aspect of this hard iced tea is that despite being a nod to Jack Daniel's Southern roots, the original iced tea is not sweet. Before even opening the can, I expected the fruit-less flavor to be a sweet tea, a beverage I've had several times in Southern states, which is sweeter than any pie or cookie I've ever had, and yet it manages to be the perfect accompaniment to a barbecued pulled pork sandwich with a side of mac and cheese. 

This iced tea, however, is not sweet at all, which came as both a surprise and somewhat of a delight. Canned cocktails are so often sticky sweet to the point where they can be hard to drink, but this made for an easy sip I kept going back for again and again.

How does Jack Daniel's Country Cocktails Hard Tea compare to other canned cocktails?

While the data tells us that new entries to the RTD category haven't increased, the amount currently on the market still gives drinkers a wide range of options, especially in the hard tea category. So, how do the new offerings from Jack Daniel's stand up in the RTD hard tea category? I tasted the hard peach tea by AriZona against Jack Daniel's peach hard tea to find out.

Both hard iced teas are malt beverages, and are made with a real tea base, meaning they are naturally caffeinated. They are both 5% alcohol by volume, and the fact that they are both malted beverages suggests that they are higher in calories and sugar than that of a hard seltzer. 

That said, the peach flavor in Jack Daniel's hard tea tastes far more natural, whereas whatever flavoring is used in the AriZona hard tea has a more synthetic flavor, not even in the neighborhood of a freshly brewed tea or a ripe peach. If you're seeking a canned hard iced tea this summer, Jack Daniel's hard tea options are far superior to the AriZona lineup.

Are Jack Daniel's Country Cocktails Hard Tea worth buying?

If boozy, fruity iced tea is the vibe you're going for during the warm weather months, you're going to be pleasantly surprised with a majority of the Jack Daniel's Country Cocktails Hard Tea lineup. In a market that is so heavily saturated by hard seltzers, RTD cocktails, and hard and spiked iced teas, Jack Daniel's is certainly making a space for themselves as a light and fresh summer beverage, relying on the flavors of freshly brewed iced tea and ripe fruits instead of sugar and fake ingredients.

The biggest pro for these hard tea cocktails is the price — the 12-pack is considerably less expensive than other hard iced teas on the market, so if budget is an important factor for you when picking out RTD cocktails, this is a worthwhile purchase to keep you and your wallet happy.

While the blackberry hard tea flavor was the least enjoyable of the bunch, the peach, raspberry, and original flavors would be more than welcome in my ice-filled cooler during the upcoming BBQ season. Considering the peach and original flavors will also be available as single cans, if you live in one of the states where the Jack Daniel's Country Cocktails Hard Tea will be available, consider picking up a handful of these to stock your fridge.