Jack Daniel's

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Jack Daniel Distillery,
Lem Motlow Prop, Inc.
TypeSubsidiary of Brown-Forman
IndustryManufacturing and distillation of liquors
FoundedLynchburg, Tennessee (1875)
FoundersJack Daniel
HeadquartersLynchburg, Tennessee, US
Key peopleJack Daniel (founder)
Lem Motlow (proprietor, 1911-1947)
Jeff Arnett (7th master distiller)
ProductsDistilled and blended liquors
Production output11 million cases (2013)[1]
Net income$121,700,000
ParentBrown-Forman Corporation
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This article is about Jack Daniel's whiskey. For people named Jack Daniels, see Jack Daniels (disambiguation).
Jack Daniel Distillery,
Lem Motlow Prop, Inc.
TypeSubsidiary of Brown-Forman
IndustryManufacturing and distillation of liquors
FoundedLynchburg, Tennessee (1875)
FoundersJack Daniel
HeadquartersLynchburg, Tennessee, US
Key peopleJack Daniel (founder)
Lem Motlow (proprietor, 1911-1947)
Jeff Arnett (7th master distiller)
ProductsDistilled and blended liquors
Production output11 million cases (2013)[1]
Net income$121,700,000
ParentBrown-Forman Corporation
Jack Daniel Distillery
Jack Daniel Distillery Lynchburg TN 001.JPG
LocationTN 55
Lynchburg, Tennessee
NRHP Reference #72001248
Added to NRHPSeptember 14, 1972

Jack Daniel's is a brand of Tennessee whiskey that is the highest selling American whiskey in the world.[2][3] It is produced in Lynchburg, Tennessee, by the Jack Daniel Distillery, which has been owned by the Brown-Forman Corporation since 1956.[4] Despite being the location of a major operational distillery, Jack Daniel's home county of Moore is a dry county, so the product is not available for consumption at stores or restaurants within the county.

Although the product generally meets the regulatory criteria for classification as a straight bourbon, the company disavows this classification and markets it simply as Tennessee whiskey rather than as Tennessee bourbon.[5][6] Packaged in distinctive square bottles, a total of 11 million cases of the flagship "Black Label" product were sold in the company's fiscal year ended April 30, 2013.

Early history[edit]

The Jack Daniel's website suggests its founder Jasper Newton "Jack" Daniel was born in 1850 (and his tombstone bears that date[7]), but says his exact birth date is unknown.[8] The website states that it's customary to celebrate his birthday in September.[8] The Tennessee state library web site says that records list his birth date as September 5, 1846,[7] and in the 2004 biography Blood & Whiskey: The Life and Times of Jack Daniel, author Peter Krass says he was born in January 1849 (based on Jack's sister's diary, census records, and the date of death of Jack's mother).[9]

Jack was one of thirteen children fathered by Calaway Daniel and was the youngest of his mother's ten children.[9] According to the Tennessee state library, Jack's mother, Lucinda Cook Daniel, died in 1847[7] (making an 1850 birth date impossible). After Jack's mother died, his father remarried and had several more children. Jack Daniel's grandfather, Joseph "Job" Daniel emigrated from Wales along with his Scottish wife, Elizabeth Calaway, to the United States.[10] He was of Welsh, Scottish, English, and Scots-Irish descent.[11] Jack's father died in the Civil War, and he despised his step-mother, and as a result he ran away from home and was essentially orphaned at a young age.[9][12]

Statue of Jack Daniel in front of the subterranean fresh water spring from whence he once drew the water used in the production of his whiskey (Jack Daniel's Distillery, Lynchburg, Tennessee)

Jack was taken in by a local lay preacher and moonshine distiller named Dan Call, and began learning the distilling trade as a teen-ager from Call and Call's slave Nearest Green, who stayed on with Call after his emancipation.[12] In 1875, on receiving an inheritance from his father's estate (following a long dispute with his siblings), Daniel founded a legally registered distilling business with Call. He took over the distillery shortly afterward, when Call quit for religious reasons.[9][12] The brand label on the product says "Est. & Reg. in 1866", but his biographer has cited official registration documents to assert that the business was not established until 1875.[12][7]

After taking over the distillery, in 1884 Daniel purchased the hollow and land where the distillery is now located.[10][12] By the 1880s, Jack Daniel's was one of fifteen distilleries operating in Moore County, and the second-most productive behind Tom Eaton's Distillery.[13] He began using square-shaped bottles in 1897, with the square shape of the bottle intended to convey a sense of fairness and integrity.[9][12]

According to Daniel's biographer, the origin of the "Old No. 7" brand name was the number assigned to Daniel's distillery for government registration.[9][12] He was forced to change the registration number when the federal government redrew the district and he became Number 16 in district 5 instead of No. 7 in district 4. However, he continued to use his original number as a brand name, since his brand reputation had already been established.[9][12]

Jack Daniel's experienced a surge in popularity after the whiskey received the gold medal for the finest whiskey at the 1904 St. Louis World's Fair, although his local reputation was suffering as the temperance movement was gaining strength.[10][9][12]

Jack Daniel never married and did not have any children. However, he took his nephews under his wing – one of whom was Lemuel "Lem" Motlow (1869–1947).[9][12] Lem, a son of Jack's sister, Finetta,[10] was skilled with numbers, and was soon doing all of the distillery's bookkeeping. In 1907, due to failing health, Jack Daniel gave the distillery to two of his nephews.[9][12] Motlow soon bought out the other nephew and went on to operate the distillery for about forty years.

Ad for Old No. 7 from a May 1908 issue of The Nashville Globe

Tennessee passed a statewide prohibition law in 1910, effectively barring the legal distillation of Jack Daniel's within the state. Motlow challenged the law in a test case that eventually worked its way up to the Tennessee Supreme Court. The court upheld the law as constitutional, however.[14][15]

Jack died in 1911 from blood poisoning. An oft-told tale is that the infection began in one of his toes, which Daniel injured one early morning at work by kicking his safe in anger when he could not get it open (he was said to always have had trouble remembering the combination).[16] However, Daniel's modern biographer has asserted that the story is not true.[9][12]

Because of the prohibition in Tennessee, the company began distilling operations in St Louis, Missouri, and Birmingham, Alabama, though none of the production from these locations was ever sold due to quality problems.[17] The Alabama operation was halted following a similar statewide prohibition law in that state, and the St. Louis operation was halted by the onset of nationwide prohibition following passage of the Eighteenth Amendment in 1920. While the passage Twenty-first Amendment in 1933 repealed prohibition at the federal level, state prohibition laws (including Tennessee's) remained in effect, thus preventing the Lynchburg distillery from reopening. Motlow, who had become a Tennessee state senator, led efforts to repeal these laws, allowing production to restart in 1938. The five-year gap between national repeal and Tennessee repeal was commemorated in 2008 with a gift pack of two bottles, one for the 75th anniversary of the end of prohibition and a second commemorating the 70th anniversary of the reopening of the distillery.[18]

The home of Lem Motlow, proprietor of Jack Daniel's from 1911 to 1947, still stands at the Jack Daniel's Distillery in Lynchburg

The Jack Daniel's distillery ceased operations from 1942 to 1946, when the U.S. government banned the manufacture of whiskey due to World War II. Motlow resumed production of Jack Daniel's only in 1947 after good quality corn was again available.[17] Motlow then died the same year. He bequeathed the distillery to his children, Robert, Reagor, Dan, Conner, and Mary, upon his death.[19]

The company was later incorporated as "Jack Daniel Distillery, Lem Motlow, Prop., Inc." This has allowed the company to continue to include Lem Motlow, who died in 1947, in its marketing, since mentioning him in the advertising is technically just citing the full corporate name. Likewise, the advertisements continue to use Lynchburg's 1960s-era population figure of 361, though the city has since formed a consolidated city-county government with Moore County, and its official population had thus grown to over 6,000 by the 2010 census.

The company was sold to the Brown-Forman Corporation in 1956.[4]

The Jack Daniel's Distillery was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1972.

In 2012, a Welshman, Mark Evans, claimed to have discovered the original recipe for Daniel's whiskey,[20] in a book written in 1853 by his great-great-grandmother, whose brother-in-law emigrated to Tennessee.

Moore County, where the Jack Daniel's distillery is located, is one of the state's many dry counties. Therefore, while it is legal to distill the product within the county, it is illegal to purchase it there. However, a state law has provided one exception: a distillery may sell one commemorative product, regardless of county statutes.[21] Jack Daniel's now sells Gentleman Jack, Jack Daniel's Single Barrel, the original No. 7 blend (in a commemorative bottle), and a seasonal blend (on rotation) at the distillery's White Rabbit Bottle Shop.

Recent history[edit]

Lowering to 80 proof[edit]

Jack Daniel's black label was historically produced at 90 U.S. proof (45% alcohol by volume).[22] The lower-end green label product was 80 proof. However, starting in 1987, the other label variations were also reduced in proof. This began with black label being initially reduced to 86 proof. Both the black and green labels are made from the same ingredients; the difference is determined by professional tasters, who decide which of the batches would be sold under the "premium" black label, the rest being sold as "standard" green label.

Finally, starting in 2002, all generally available Jack Daniel's products were diluted to 80 proof (including both black label and green label).[23] The reason stated for this was that the distillery's marketing had found that customers preferred a lower-proof whiskey; this also simplified the production process,[citation needed] and lowered production costs. This reduction in alcohol content was condemned by Modern Drunkard Magazine and a petition was formed for drinkers who disagreed with the change.[23]

Jack Daniel's has produced higher-proof products at times. A one-time limited run of 96 proof, the highest proof Jack Daniel's had ever bottled at that time, was bottled for the 1996 Tennessee Bicentennial in a decorative bicentennial bottle. The distillery debuted their 94 proof "Jack Daniel's Single Barrel" in February 1997. The Silver Select Single Barrel is currently the company's highest proof at 100, but is only available in duty-free shops.


Jack Daniel's Black Label Tennessee Whiskey remains the flagship product of the Brown-Forman Corporation. In the fiscal year ended April 30, 2013, the company sold a total of 11 million cases of the beverage.[24]


The Kelly Racing Holden VE Commodore of Todd Kelly at the 2010 Clipsal 500 Adelaide

In 2006, Jack Daniel's sponsored the Perkins Engineering team in the Australian V8 Supercar series, which continued until the end of 2008. From 2009 their sponsorship moved to the newly formed Kelly Racing team, formed from the remnants of Perkins Engineering and now defunct HSV Dealer Team.[25] Jack Daniel's also sponsored the Richard Childress Racing 07 car (numbered after the "Old No. 7") in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series from 2005 to 2009.[26] Jack Daniel's also sponsors Zac Brown Bands Tour.

Master distillers[edit]

Jeff Arnett, a company employee since 2001, became Jack Daniel's master distiller in 2008. He is the seventh person to hold the position in the distillery's history. His predecessor, Jimmy Bedford, held the position for 20 years.[27] Bedford retired in mid-2008 after being the subject of a $3.5 million sexual harassment lawsuit against the company that ended in an out-of-court settlement, and he died on August 7, 2009, after suffering a heart attack at his home in Lynchburg.[28][29]

Other former Master Distillers include Jess Motlow (1911–1941), Lem Tolley (1941–1964), Jess Gamble (1964–1966), and Frank Bobo (1966–1992).[30]

Tennessee Squires[edit]

A Tennessee Squire is a member of the Tennessee Squire Association, which was formed in 1956 to honor special friends of the Jack Daniel's distillery.[31] Many prominent business and entertainment professionals are included among the membership, which is obtained only through recommendation of a current member. Squires receive a wallet card and deed certificate proclaiming them as "owner" of an unrecorded plot of land at the distillery and an honorary citizen of Moore County, Tennessee.[32]

Production process[edit]

Making charcoal at the distillery, ca. 1920-1935

The mash for Jack Daniel's is made from corn, rye, and malted barley, and is distilled in copper stills. It is then filtered (or "mellowed") through 10-foot (3.0 m) stacks of sugar maple charcoal.[33] This extra step, known as the Lincoln County Process, removes impurities and the taste of corn,[10] and is not used in the production of Bourbons.[34] The company argues this extra step makes the product different from Bourbon. However, Tennessee whiskey is required to be "a straight Bourbon Whiskey" under terms of the North American Free Trade Agreement[35] and Canadian law.[36] After mellowing, the whiskey is stored in newly handcrafted oak barrels, which give the whiskey its color and most of its flavor.[33]

The product label mentions that it is a "sour mash" whiskey, which means that when the mash is prepared, some of the wet solids from a previously used batch are mixed in to help make the fermentation process operate more consistently. This is common practice in American whiskey production. (As of 2005, all currently produced straight bourbon is produced using the sour mash process.)[37]

After being used for the aging of Jack Daniel's whiskey, many barrels go to Scotland to be used in the production of Scotch whisky. Some barrels are leased from Glenmorangie distillery. Some of the barrels are sold to McIlhenny Company of Avery Island, Louisiana, for production of Tabasco sauce and to both the Mount Gay Rum company of Barbados and Appleton Estate of Jamaica for use in the aging process of their distinctively flavored rums.[citation needed] Some barrels are also cut in half and shipped to Lowe's Home Centers to be used as planter pots. They retain the whiskey smell for some time after arriving there and must be watered every couple of days to keep them intact before they are sold and filled with soil.

Legal status[edit]

On a state level, the State of Tennessee has imposed stringent requirements. To be labeled as Tennessee Whiskey, it is not enough under state law that the whiskey be produced in Tennessee; it must meet quality and production standards. These are the same standards used by Jack Daniel's Distillery, and some other distillers are displeased with the requirements being enshrined into law.[38][39]

On May 13, 2013, Tennessee governor Bill Haslam signed House Bill 1084, requiring the Lincoln County process to be used for products produced in the state labeling themselves as "Tennessee Whiskey," with a particular exception tailored to exempt Benjamin Prichard's, and including the existing requirements for bourbon.[39][40] As federal law requires statements of origin on labels to be accurate, the Tennessee law effectively gives a firm definition to Tennessee whiskey, requiring Tennessee origin, maple charcoal filtering by the Lincoln County process prior to aging, and the basic requirements of bourbon (at least 51% corn, new oak barrels, charring of the barrels, and limits on alcohol by volume concentration for distillation, aging, and bottling).

In 2014, legislation was introduced in the Tennessee state legislature that would modify the 2013 law to allow the reuse of oak barrels in the Tennessee whiskey aging process. Jack Daniel's Master Distiller Jeff Arnett vehemently opposed the legislation, arguing the reuse of barrels would require the use of artificial colorings and flavorings, and would render Tennessee whiskey an inferior product to Scotches and bourbons.[41]

The company has also been the subject of a proposal to locally surtax its product. It is claimed that the distillery, which is the main employer in a company town, has capitalized on the bucolic image of Lynchburg, Tennessee, and it ought to pay a bounty of $10.00 per barrel. The company responds that such a tax is a confiscatory imposition penalizing it for the success of the enterprise.[42]


Special bottlings[edit]

The company has done special bottlings, sometimes to commemorate special events.

1970s and 1980s[edit]




Series Bottling[edit]

Upcoming bottles[edit]


The Jack Daniel's Distillery in Lynchburg is situated in and around a hollow known as "Stillhouse Hollow" or "Jack Daniel's Hollow," where a spring flows from a cave at the base of a limestone cliff. The limestone removes iron from the water, making it ideal for distilling whiskey (water heavy in iron gives whiskey a bad taste).[10] The spring feeds into nearby East Fork Mulberry Creek, which is part of the Elk River watershed. Some 1.9 million barrels containing the aging whiskey are stored in several dozen barrel houses, some of which adorn the adjacent hilltops and are visible throughout Lynchburg.[33]

The distillery is a major tourist attraction, drawing over a quarter of a million visitors annually.[33] The visitor center, dedicated in June 2000, contains memorabilia related to the distillery and a gift shop. Tours of the distillery are conducted several times per day.[59]



Cultural references[edit]

Dave Lewis - Jack Daniel's Green


  1. ^ Cavale, Siddharth; Das, Joyjeet (22 August 2013). "Jack Daniel's toasts rising demand with new distillery". Reuters. Reuters. Retrieved 24 June 2014. 
  2. ^ Hughes, T.,World's best-selling spirits revealed (and the winner is very unexpected), The Daily Mail, 6 June 2012.
  3. ^ Stengel, Jim. "Jack Daniel's Secret: The History of the World's Most Famous Whiskey". The Atlantic. Retrieved 2012-03-26. 
  4. ^ a b "Slight Change of Recipe". Time Magazine (Time Magazine). 1966-08-05. Retrieved 2008-07-25. 
  5. ^ Cowdery, Charles K., Favorite whiskey myths debunked, The Chuck Cowdery Blog, December 16, 2009. (Accessed January 2011.)
  6. ^ Cowdery, Charles K., Tennessee Whiskey Versus Bourbon Whiskey, The Chuck Cowdery Blog, February 21, 2009. (Accessed January 2011.)
  7. ^ a b c d "Tennessee Myths and Legends". Tennessee State Library and Archives. Retrieved 23 July 2012. 
  8. ^ a b "People" section of Jack Daniel's website. Retrieved: 20 March 2014.
  9. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k Book Discussion: Blood & Whiskey: The Life and Times of Jack Daniel, C-SPAN.
  10. ^ a b c d e f Jeanne Ridgway Bigger, "Jack Daniel's Distillery and Lynchburg: A Visit to Moore County, Tennessee," Tennessee Historical Quarterly, Vol. 31, No. 1 (Spring 1972), pp. 3-21.
  11. ^ Jasper "Jack" Newton Daniel.
  12. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l Krass, Peter (2004). Blood and whiskey: the life and times of Jack Daniel. Hoboken, New Jersey: Wiley. ISBN 0-471-27392-9.  (page 7 saying "after he was born in 1849", and page 19 saying "By the time Jack was born in January 1849, ...")
  13. ^ Carroll Van West, Megan Dobbs, and Brian Eades, National Register of Historic Places Nomination Form for Lynchburg Historic District, Southern Places Database (MTSU Center for Historic Preservation), 1995.
  14. ^ Motlow v. State, Reports of Cases Argued and Determined in the Supreme Court of Tennessee, Vol. 125 (1912), pp. 557-594.
  15. ^ "Can't Make Whiskey There," The New York Sun, 17 March 1912, p. 1.
  16. ^ Freeth, N. (2005). Made in America: from Levis to Barbie to Google. St. Paul, MN: MBI.
  17. ^ a b "Jack Daniel Distillery". The Whisky Guide. Retrieved 2009-10-08. 
  18. ^ "Brown-Forman Unveils Plans to Celebrate 75th Anniversary of End of Prohibition". RedOrbit.com. RedOrbit, Inc. 16 June 2008. Retrieved 2009-10-08. 
  19. ^ Lem Motlow, Jack Daniel's website. Retrieved: 20 March 2014.
  20. ^ Welshman claims to have found original Jack Daniel's whiskey recipe (The Guardian)
  21. ^ The Tennessee General Assembly passed a 1994 special act for selling commemorative decanters containing Jack Daniel's Tennessee Whiskey on January 2, 1995.
  22. ^ "Drinkers object to Jack Daniel's watering whiskey down". USA Today. September 29, 2004. Retrieved March 9, 2012. 
  23. ^ a b "A Legacy Betrayed", Modern Drunkard Magazine, 2002.
  24. ^ "Jack Daniel's In Legal Fight with Upstart Rival Distiller," The Oregonian [Portland], Oct. 26, 2013, pp. B8, B10.
  25. ^ "Jack Daniel's teams up with Kelly Racing". Holden Motorsport. 2009-03-02. Retrieved 2009-03-03. 
  26. ^ "Jack Daniel's will end NASCAR sponsorship; Company backed a team for 5 years." The Tennessean, Sept. 22, 2009
  27. ^ Hevesi, Dennis. "Jimmy Bedford, Guardian of Jack Daniel's, Dies at 69", The New York Times, August 10, 2009. Accessed August 11, 2009.
  28. ^ Hevesi, Dennis. "Jimmy Bedford, Guardian of Jack Daniel’s, Dies at 69", The New York Times, August 10, 2009. Accessed August 11, 2009.
  29. ^ "Former Jack Daniel's master distiller dies at 69". WRCB. 7 August 2009. Retrieved 2009-08-11. [dead link]
  30. ^ http://www.jackdaniels.com
  31. ^ http://www.jdcollectorspage.com/TSAssociation.html
  32. ^ http://tennesseesquires.com/
  33. ^ a b c d Beth Haynes, "HomeGrown: Jack Daniel's Distillery," WBIR.com, 4 December 2012. Retrieved: 21 March 2014.
  34. ^ Axelrod, A. (2003). The complete idiot's guide to mixing drinks. Indianapolis, IN: Alpha.
  35. ^ "Chapter 3 - Annex 307.3 to Annex 315: Annex 313: Distinctive Products". 
  36. ^ Canada Food and Drug regulations, C.R.C. C.870, provision B.02.022.1
  37. ^ "The Straightbourbon FAQ". Straight Bourbon.com. Retrieved 2012-04-19. 
  38. ^ Esterl, Mike (March 18, 2014). "Jack Daniels Faces Whiskey Rebellion". The Wall Street Journal. Retrieved March 18, 2014. 
  39. ^ a b Zandona, Eric. "Tennessee Whiskey Gets a Legal Definition". EZdrinking. Retrieved 2014-01-11. 
  40. ^ "Public Chapter No. 341" (PDF). State of Tennesse. Retrieved March 19, 2014. 
  41. ^ Robert Holman, "Jack Daniel Denounces Barrel Legislation," The Tullahoma News, 18 March 2014.
  42. ^ Roberts, John (October 21, 2011). "Jack Daniel's Faces More Taxes From Cash-Strapped Hometown in Tennessee". Fox News. Retrieved March 24, 2014. 
  43. ^ http://www.jackdaniels.com/whiskey/winter-jack
  44. ^ http://www.jackdaniels.com/whiskey/maxwell-house
  45. ^ a b c d e f g h i http://www.jdcollectorspage.com/Homepage.htm
  46. ^ http://www.jackdaniels.com/whiskey/belle-lincoln
  47. ^ http://www.jackdaniels.com/whiskey/inaugural
  48. ^ http://www.jackdaniels.com/whiskey/silver-cornet
  49. ^ http://www.jackdaniels.com/whiskey/riverboat-captain
  50. ^ http://www.jackdaniels.com/whiskey/barrelhouse-1
  51. ^ http://www.ar15.com/archive/topic.html?b=1&f=5&t=1402260
  52. ^ http://www.jackdaniels.com/whiskey/75th-anniversary-repeal-prohibition
  53. ^ http://www.jackdaniels.com/whiskey/70th-anniversary-distillery-re-opening
  54. ^ http://www.jackdaniels.com/whiskey/american-forests
  55. ^ http://www.thewhiskyexchange.com/P-15064.aspx
  56. ^ "Jack Daniel's Unaged Rye Whiskey". uncrate. Retrieved 14 March 2013. 
  57. ^ "Jack Daniel’s Sinatra Select whiskey". BNP Media. Retrieved 21 February 2013. 
  58. ^ http://societeperrier.com/new-york/articles/nectar-of-the-gods-jack-daniels-releases-sinatra-select/#.Ue6R942zctg
  59. ^ Jack Daniel's Tours, Jack Daniel's official website. Retrieved: 21 March 2014.
  60. ^ Walker, Tracy.Walker. It's clear that brown spirits have gained momentum, particularly the Tennessee whiskey segment. Retrieved February 1, 2007.
  61. ^ "Jack Daniel Recipes". Retrieved 2011-10-16. 
  62. ^ http://artists.letssingit.com/dean-martin-lyrics-i-love-vegas-68z9b3m#ixzz2efcreMXx
  63. ^ Jack Daniel's Classy Book Cover Cease-And-Desist Letter For Patrick Wensink's 'Broken Piano For President' Huffington Post July 23, 2012
  64. ^ Graham Hartmann, "Motörhead's Lemmy Kilmister Talks Health, Smoking, Drinking and Death," Loudwire, 15 October 2013. Retrieved: 20 March 2014.

Further reading[edit]

External links[edit]

Coordinates: 35°17′6″N 86°22′5″W / 35.28500°N 86.36806°W / 35.28500; -86.36806