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)
Founder(s)Jack Daniel
HeadquartersLynchburg, Tennessee, US
Key peopleJack Daniel (founder)
Lem Motlow (proprietor, 1911-1947)
Jeff Arnett (7th master distiller)
ProductsDistilled and blended liquors
Net income$121,700,000
ParentBrown-Forman Corporation
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Jack Daniel Distillery, Lem Motlow Prop, Inc.
TypeSubsidiary of Brown-Forman
IndustryManufacturing and distillation of liquors
FoundedLynchburg, Tennessee (1875)
Founder(s)Jack Daniel
HeadquartersLynchburg, Tennessee, US
Key peopleJack Daniel (founder)
Lem Motlow (proprietor, 1911-1947)
Jeff Arnett (7th master distiller)
ProductsDistilled and blended liquors
Net income$121,700,000
ParentBrown-Forman Corporation
Jack Daniel Distillery
LocationTN 55
Lynchburg, Tennessee
NRHP Reference #72001248
Added to NRHPSeptember 14, 1972

Jack Daniel's is a brand of sour mash Tennessee whiskey that is the highest selling American whiskey in the world.[1][2] It is produced in Lynchburg, Tennessee, by the Jack Daniel Distillery, which has been owned by the Brown-Forman Corporation since 1956.[3] 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.[4][5] 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]

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)

According to the Jack Daniel's website, founder Jasper Newton "Jack" Daniel was born in September 1850, although seemingly no one knows the exact date because the birth records were destroyed in a courthouse fire.[citation needed] If the 1850 date is correct, he might hypothetically have become a licensed distiller at the age of 16, as the brand label says "Est. & Reg. in 1866".[6] Other records list his birth date as September 5, 1846,[6] and in the 2004 biography Blood & Whiskey: The Life and Times of Jack Daniel, author Peter Krass maintains[7] that land and deed records show that the distillery was actually not founded until 1875 (the date also suggested by the Tennessee state library,[6] estimating that he was 29 when the distillery was founded). Jack was one of twelve children fathered by Calaway Daniel. Jack's mother, Lucinda Cook Daniel, died in 1847[6] (making an 1850 birth date impossible), after which his father remarried and had several more children. Jack Daniel's grandfather, Joseph "Job" Daniel emigrated from Wales as did his Scottish wife to the United States. He was of Welsh, Scottish, English, and Scots-Irish descent.[8] In 2012, a Welshman, Mark Evans, claimed to have discovered the original recipe,[9] in a book written by his great-great-grandmother in 1853, whose brother-in-law emigrated to Tennessee.

Jack died in 1911 from blood poisoning which started from an infection. The infection allegedly 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).[10]

Jack Daniel never married and did not have any children. However, he took his favorite nephew, Lem Motlow, under his wing. Lem was very 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 Motlow, who then bequeathed the distillery to his children, Robert, Reagor, Dan, Conner, and Mary, upon his death in 1947.

Tennessee passed a state-wide prohibition law in 1910, preventing the legal distillation of Jack Daniel's in the state, and as a result Lem Motlow 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.[11] The introduction of prohibition in 1920 (until 1933) through the Eighteenth Amendment to the Constitution stopped production in St Louis; production in Alabama having been stopped earlier by that state's prohibition laws. All production then ceased. Even the Twenty-first Amendment enactment in 1933 repealing federal prohibition did not allow production in Lynchburg to restart, as the Tennessee state prohibition laws were still in effect. Motlow, as a Tennessee state senator, helped 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.[12]

The U.S. government banned the manufacture of whiskey during World War II and a little beyond, from 1942 to 1946. Motlow resumed production of Jack Daniel's only in 1947 after good quality corn was again available.[11]

When the company was later incorporated, it was 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 say that Lynchburg has only 361 people, though the 2000 census reports 5,740. This is allowable because the entire label was trademarked in the early 1960s when this figure was the actual population cited by the Census Bureau; changing the label would require applying for a new trademark or forfeiting trademark protection. However, the census population includes all of Moore County, as the county and city governments are consolidated. 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.[13] 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).[14] 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).[15] 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.[15]

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.[16]


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.[17] 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.[18] 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.[19] 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.[20][21]

Other Master Distillers include Jess Motlow (1911-1941), Lem Tolley (1941-1964), Jess Gamble (1964-1966), and Frank Bobo (1966-1992).[22]

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.[23] 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.[24]

Production process[edit]

Making charcoal at the distillery, ca. 1920-1935

Jack Daniel's whiskey is filtered through sugar maple charcoal in large wooden vats prior to aging, which is an extra step that is not used in making most Bourbon whiskey,[25] and the company claims that this 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[26] and Canadian law,[27] and there is no other legal definition of the term "Tennessee whiskey" (other than U.S. law governing the definition of "whiskey" in general).

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.


Special bottlings[edit]

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

1970s and 1980s[edit]




Series Bottling[edit]

Upcoming bottles[edit]



Cultural references[edit]

The way they do in that Tennessee mountain land."

Dave Lewis - Jack Daniel's Green


  1. ^ Hughes, T.,World's best-selling spirits revealed (and the winner is very unexpected), The Daily Mail, 6 June 2012.
  2. ^ Stengel, Jim. "Jack Daniel's Secret: The History of the World's Most Famous Whiskey". The Atlantic. Retrieved 2012-03-26. 
  3. ^ "Slight Change of Recipe". Time Magazine (Time Magazine). 1966-08-05. Retrieved 2008-07-25. 
  4. ^ Cowdery, Charles K., Favorite whiskey myths debunked, The Chuck Cowdery Blog, December 16, 2009. (Accessed January 2011.)
  5. ^ Cowdery, Charles K., Tennessee Whiskey Versus Bourbon Whiskey, The Chuck Cowdery Blog, February 21, 2009. (Accessed January 2011.)
  6. ^ a b c d "Tennessee Myths and Legends". Tennessee State Library and Archives. Retrieved 23 July 2012. 
  7. ^ Krass, Peter (2004). Blood and whiskey: the life and times of Jack Daniel. Hoboken, New Jersey: Wiley. ISBN 0-471-27392-9. 
  8. ^ Jasper "Jack" Newton Daniel.
  9. ^ Welshman claims to have found original Jack Daniel's whiskey recipe (The Guardian)
  10. ^ Freeth, N. (2005). Made in America: from Levis to Barbie to Google. St. Paul, MN: MBI.
  11. ^ a b "Jack Daniel Distillery". The Whisky Guide. Retrieved 2009-10-08. 
  12. ^ "Brown-Forman Unveils Plans to Celebrate 75th Anniversary of End of Prohibition". RedOrbit.com. RedOrbit, Inc. 16 June 2008. Retrieved 2009-10-08. 
  13. ^ The Tennessee General Assembly passed a 1994 special act for selling commemorative decanters containing Jack Daniel's Tennessee Whiskey on January 2, 1995.
  14. ^ "Drinkers object to Jack Daniel's watering whiskey down". USA Today. September 29, 2004. Retrieved March 9, 2012. 
  15. ^ a b "A Legacy Betrayed", Modern Drunkard Magazine, 2002.
  16. ^ "Jack Daniel's In Legal Fight with Upstart Rival Distiller," The Oregonian [Portland], Oct. 26, 2013, pp. B8, B10.
  17. ^ "Jack Daniel's teams up with Kelly Racing". Holden Motorsport. 2009-03-02. Retrieved 2009-03-03. 
  18. ^ "Jack Daniel's will end NASCAR sponsorship; Company backed a team for 5 years." The Tennessean, Sept. 22, 2009
  19. ^ Hevesi, Dennis. "Jimmy Bedford, Guardian of Jack Daniel's, Dies at 69", The New York Times, August 10, 2009. Accessed August 11, 2009.
  20. ^ Hevesi, Dennis. "Jimmy Bedford, Guardian of Jack Daniel’s, Dies at 69", The New York Times, August 10, 2009. Accessed August 11, 2009.
  21. ^ "Former Jack Daniel's master distiller dies at 69". WRCB. 7 August 2009. Retrieved 2009-08-11. [dead link]
  22. ^ http://www.jackdaniels.com
  23. ^ http://www.jdcollectorspage.com/TSAssociation.html
  24. ^ http://tennesseesquires.com/
  25. ^ Axelrod, A. (2003). The complete idiot's guide to mixing drinks. Indianapolis, IN: Alpha.
  26. ^ "Chapter 3 - Annex 307.3 to Annex 315: Annex 313: Distinctive Products". 
  27. ^ Canada Food and Drug regulations, C.R.C. C.870, provision B.02.022.1
  28. ^ http://www.jackdaniels.com/whiskey/winter-jack
  29. ^ http://www.jackdaniels.com/whiskey/maxwell-house
  30. ^ http://www.jdcollectorspage.com/Homepage.htm
  31. ^ http://www.jackdaniels.com/whiskey/belle-lincoln
  32. ^ http://www.jdcollectorspage.com/Homepage.htm
  33. ^ http://www.jdcollectorspage.com/Homepage.htm
  34. ^ http://www.jackdaniels.com/whiskey/inaugural
  35. ^ http://www.jdcollectorspage.com/Homepage.htm
  36. ^ http://www.jackdaniels.com/whiskey/silver-cornet
  37. ^ http://www.jdcollectorspage.com/Homepage.htm
  38. ^ http://www.jackdaniels.com/whiskey/riverboat-captain
  39. ^ http://www.jdcollectorspage.com/Homepage.htm
  40. ^ http://www.jackdanielsbottles.com/bottles/125th-anniversary/
  41. ^ http://www.jackdanielsbottles.com/bottles/1895-replica/
  42. ^ http://www.jackdaniels.com/whiskey/barrelhouse-1
  43. ^ http://www.jdcollectorspage.com/Homepage.htm
  44. ^ http://www.ar15.com/archive/topic.html?b=1&f=5&t=1402260
  45. ^ http://www.jdcollectorspage.com/Homepage.htm
  46. ^ http://www.jackdanielsbottles.com/bottles/monogram/
  47. ^ http://www.jackdaniels.com/whiskey/75th-anniversary-repeal-prohibition
  48. ^ http://www.jackdanielsbottles.com/bottles/prohibition-set/
  49. ^ http://www.jackdaniels.com/whiskey/70th-anniversary-distillery-re-opening
  50. ^ http://www.jackdanielsbottles.com/bottles/prohibition-set/
  51. ^ http://www.jackdanielsbottles.com/bottles/oregons-150th-birthday/
  52. ^ http://www.jackdaniels.com/whiskey/american-forests
  53. ^ http://www.jackdanielsbottles.com/more-bottles/gentleman-jack-commemorative/
  54. ^ http://www.thewhiskyexchange.com/P-15064.aspx
  55. ^ "Jack Daniel's Unaged Rye Whiskey". uncrate. Retrieved 14 March 2013. 
  56. ^ "Jack Daniel’s Sinatra Select whiskey". BNP Media. Retrieved 21 February 2013. 
  57. ^ http://www.jdcollectorspage.com/Homepage.htm
  58. ^ http://www.jackdanielsbottles.com/more-bottles/ducks-unlimited-series/
  59. ^ "Holiday Select". Retrieved 21 February 2013. 
  60. ^ http://societeperrier.com/new-york/articles/nectar-of-the-gods-jack-daniels-releases-sinatra-select/#.Ue6R942zctg
  61. ^ Walker, Tracy.Walker. It's clear that brown spirits have gained momentum, particularly the Tennessee whiskey segment. Retrieved February 1, 2007.
  62. ^ "Jack Daniel Recipes". Retrieved 2011-10-16. 
  63. ^ http://artists.letssingit.com/dean-martin-lyrics-i-love-vegas-68z9b3m#ixzz2efcreMXx
  64. ^ Jack Daniel's Classy Book Cover Cease-And-Desist Letter For Patrick Wensink's 'Broken Piano For President' Huffington Post July 23, 2012

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