Jack Daniel's Whiskey is an alcoholic beverage produced in Lynchburg, Tennessee, USA1. The beverage has enjoyed several periods of popularity. Currently Jack Daniel's basks in the warm glow of public acceptance worldwide. The popularity of Jack Daniel's Whiskey has reached beyond the whiskey itself. This success prompted the manufacturers to produce many auxiliary lines of merchandise. Jack Daniel's seasoning for various foods is becoming popular, as is Jack Daniel's labelled line of clothing. Much like Harley Davidson Motorcycles , Jack Daniel's Whiskey is a product that has outgrown itself due to its success. Jack Daniel's has become a cultural icon. Here is a look at the founder, the whiskey and its history2.
Jack Daniel - a Man's History
Jack Daniel was born in 1850 into a family with 13 children. A family friend raised him before hiring him out to work with the Dan Call family at the age of seven. Call was a Lutheran minister. In addition to his ministry, which apparently was not tremendously profitable, Call owned a whiskey still on the Louse River, Tennessee, USA. As he grew up working at the still, Jack learned everything he could. In September of 1863, Call sold his still to Jack, who was merely 13 years old.
Jack Daniel adopted a similar style of brewing whiskey to Call. Call's method included mellowing fresh whiskey through hard maple charcoal. It's certainly conceivable that a 13-year-old brewmaster would tend to agree with fatherlike figures from whom they purchased their first distillery. Regardless of the origin, Jack Daniel's Whiskey continues to be produced in this fashion.
In anticipation of, and hopeful avoidance of, government taxes, Mr Jack registered his distillery in 1866 in Lynchburg, Tennessee, USA. While others were running distilleries before him, Jack was the first to register his with the government. Technically this makes Jack Daniel's the US's oldest distillery.
In 1904 Jack entered his whiskey at the World's Fair held in St Louis, Missouri; a friend of Jack's was hosting the contest and asked him to join. 20 whiskeys from around the world entered, but Jack's whiskey was awarded the gold medal3. This award was the first presented to Jack for his whiskey.
Jack died in 1911, leaving behind no wife or children. The distillery was passed down to his nephew who had worked for Jack for several years. His nephew, Lem, ran the shop much as Jack had done. The distillery's sense of tradition has reached that of legend around Lynchburg, Tennessee. The town and its famous still are inseparable.
Upon the label of Jack Daniel's whiskey rests the various awards the liquor has won. The final award is not often included on the label, but promotional bottles are sometimes created with the alternate label. In fact, collector bottles are occasionally produced to commemorate each victory; in these special editions the bottles are replicas of the bottle used at the time of the award.
1904 Gold Medal
In 1904 World's fair, listed above.
1905 Gold Medal
Jack's friend continued to encourage Jack to enter his whiskey in competition around the world. 1905 was the year that it won in Belgium.
1913 Gold Medal
Back in Belgium after Jack's death, a panel of international judges awarded the whiskey its third gold medal in 1913.
1914 Gold Medal
At the 1914 Anglo-American Exposition in London, the whiskey won another international award. The production of this whiskey holds little in the official records, however. During this year the United States was in the midst of its Prohibition against alcohol and the still was forced to produce other wares, legally.
'Sour Mash' does not designate a specific of whiskey, as most people think. Instead, the name refers to the similarities between making whiskey and making sourdough bread. A portion of the previous batch starts the next in order to ensure consistency between the blends.
Jack Daniel's produces several different styles of whiskey:
A 'Silver Select, single barrel' version, slightly stronger at 50% alcohol with a silver label and a 45% alcohol Single barrel version.
In 1988, they started producing 'Gentlemen Jack' a premium whiskey, which, although it is made in the same distillery starts off life separately as they use a different mash recipe and undergoes further charcoal filtering after being removed from the barrel, making it smoother than the standard version.
The final version that is worth mentioning is Jack Daniel's Green Label, which is weaker than the standard No 7 (40% ABV) and slightly younger (black label is around 5 years old and green around 4).
Another interesting bit of information is that Lynchburg is located in Moore County, Tennessee, which is officially 'dry'. This means that it is impossible to actually buy alcohol in the county. The Jack Daniel's distillery is, by special dispensation, only allowed to sell directly to the public if the buyer comes from outside of the county.
Despite the variety in its line, the Jack Daniel's Old Time Old No 7 Tennessee Sour Mash Whiskey, sold in its proper black-labelled, square bottle continues to be the most popular Tennessee whisky in production.
Located about 75 miles southeast of Nashville, Tennessee, the distillery offers tours of its facilities twice daily at 9am and at 16:30. This Researcher was unable to determine whether samples were available at the tour.