Rahul Sharma (Editor)

Jack Daniel's

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Founder  Jack Daniel
Jack Daniel's

Type  Subsidiary of Brown-Forman
Industry  Manufacturing and distillation of liquors
Founded  Lynchburg, Tennessee (1875; 142 years ago (1875))
Headquarters  Lynchburg, Tennessee, US
Key people  Jack Daniel (founder) Lem Motlow (proprietor, 1911–47) Jeff Arnett (7th master distiller)

Jack Daniel's is a brand of Tennessee whiskey and the top selling American whiskey in the world. It is produced in Lynchburg, Tennessee, by the Jack Daniel Distillery, which has been owned by the Brown-Forman Corporation since 1956. 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 purchase at stores or restaurants within the county.


The product meets the regulatory criteria for classification as a straight bourbon, though the company disavows this classification and markets it simply as Tennessee whiskey rather than as Tennessee bourbon. As defined in the North American Free Trade Agreement, Tennessee Whiskey is classified as a straight bourbon authorized to be produced in the state of Tennessee. Packaged in 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

The Jack Daniel's brand's official website suggests that its founder, Jasper Newton "Jack" Daniel, was born in 1850 (and his tombstone bears that date), but says his exact birth date is unknown. The company website says it is customary to celebrate his birthday in September. The Tennessee state library website said in 2013 that records list his birth date as September 5, 1846, and that the 1850 birth date seems impossible since his mother died in 1847. In the 2004 biography Blood & Whiskey: The Life and Times of Jack Daniel, author Peter Krass said his investigation showed that Daniel was born in January 1849 (based on Jack's sister's diary, census records and the date of death of Jack's mother).

Jack was one of 13 children fathered by Calaway Daniel and was the youngest of his mother's 10 children. After Daniel's mother, Lucinda Cook Daniel, 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. He was of Welsh, Scottish, English, and Scots-Irish descent. Daniel'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.

Daniel was taken in by a local lay preacher and moonshine distiller named Dan Call and began learning the distilling trade as a teenager from Call and Call's Master Distiller Nearis (sometimes spelled Nearest) Green, an enslaved African American man, who continued to work with Call after emancipation. 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. 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.

After taking over the distillery, in 1884 Daniel purchased the hollow and land where the distillery is now located. By the 1880s, Jack Daniel's was one of 15 distilleries operating in Moore County, and the second-most productive behind Tom Eaton's Distillery. He began using square-shaped bottles in 1897, with the square shape of the bottle intended to convey a sense of fairness and integrity.

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. 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 already had been established.

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.

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). Lem, a son of Daniel's sister, Finetta, 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. Motlow soon bought out the other nephew and went on to operate the distillery for about 40 years.

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 to the Tennessee Supreme Court. The court upheld the law as constitutional, however.

Daniel 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). However, Daniel's modern biographer has asserted that the story is not true.

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. 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 of the 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.

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 in 1947 after good-quality corn was again available. Motlow died the same year. He bequeathed the distillery to his children, Robert, Reagor, Dan, Conner and Mary, upon his death.

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.

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, 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. 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.

Lowering to 80 proof

Until 1987, Jack Daniel's black label was historically produced at 90 U.S. proof (45% alcohol by volume). The lower-end green label product was 80 proof. However, starting in 1987, the other label variations also were reduced in proof. This began with black label being initially reduced to 86 proof. Both the black and green label expressions 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, with the rest being sold as "standard" green label.

A further dilution began in 2002 when all generally available Jack Daniel's products were reduced to 80 proof (including the black label, which had been 86 proof since 1987 and was 90 proof before that), thus further lowering production costs and excise taxes. This reduction in alcohol content, which was done without any announcement, publicity or change of logo or packaging, was noticed and condemned by Modern Drunkard Magazine, and the magazine formed a petition drive for drinkers who disagreed with the change. The company countered that they believed consumers preferred lower-proof products, and said that the change had not hurt the sales of the brand. The petition effort garnered some publicity and collected more than 13,000 signatures, but the company held firm with its decision. A few years later, Advertising Age said in 2005 that "virtually no one noticed" the change, and confirmed that sales of the brand had actually increased since the dilution began (though it does not suppose any causes for that increase).

Jack Daniel's has also produced higher-proof special releases and premium-brand expressions 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 its 94 proof "Jack Daniel's Single Barrel" in February 1997. The Silver Select Single Barrel was formerly the company's highest proof at 100, but is available only in duty-free shops. Now, there are 'single barrel barrel proof' editions, ranging from 125–140 proof.

Sales and brand value status

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.

In the IWSR 2013 World Class Brands rankings of wine and spirits brands, Jack Daniel's was ranked third on the global level. In 2014, the brand evaluation consultancy Intangible Business ranked Jack Daniel's fourth on its global list of top wine and spirits brands.


From 2006 until 2015, Jack Daniel's sponsored V8 Supercar teams Perkins Engineering and Kelly Racing. 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. Jack Daniel's also sponsors Zac Brown Band's tours.

Master distillers

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. 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.

Other former Master Distillers include Jess Motlow (1911–41), Lem Tolley (1941–64), Jess Gamble (1964–66) and Frank Bobo (1966–92).

Tennessee Squires

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. 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.

Production process

The mash for Jack Daniel's is made from corn, rye and malted barley, and is distilled in copper stills. It is then filtered through 10-foot (3.0 m) stacks of sugar maple charcoal. The company refers to this filtering step as "mellowing". This extra step, known as the Lincoln County Process, removes impurities and the taste of corn. 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 and Canadian law. A distinctive aspect of the filtering process is that the Jack Daniel's brand grinds its charcoal before using it for filtering. After the filtering, the whiskey is stored in newly handcrafted oak barrels, which give the whiskey its color and most of its flavor.

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.)

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. 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.

On a state level, 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.

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. 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 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.

The company also has 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 tax of $10 per barrel. The company responded that such a tax is a confiscatory imposition penalizing it for the success of the enterprise. The proposed tax faced a vote by the Metro Lynchburg-Moore County Council and was defeated 10-5.


  • Old No. 7: Also known as Black Label, this is the original Jack Daniel's (80 proof/40% ABV)
  • Gentleman Jack: Charcoal filtered twice, compared to once with Old No. 7 (80 proof/40% ABV).
  • Single Barrel: Whiskey sourced from a single barrel in the company's warehouse (94 proof/47% ABV).
  • Tennessee Honey: Honey liqueur blended with less than 20% whiskey (70 proof/35% ABV).
  • Tennessee Fire: Cinnamon liqueur blended with less than 20% whiskey (70 proof/35% ABV).
  • Green Label: A lighter-bodied bottling of Old No. 7, not available everywhere (80 proof/40% ABV).
  • 1907: A lighter, slightly sweeter bottling of Old No. 7, from the cooler area's of the warehouse and sold in the Australian market (74 proof/37% ABV).
  • Silver Select: For export only (100 proof/50% ABV).
  • Winter Jack: Seasonal blend of apple cider liqueur and spices (30 proof/15% ABV).
  • No. 27 Gold: Limited release (80 proof/40% ABV)
  • Sinatra Select: Tribute to Jack’s biggest fan: Mr. Frank Sinatra (90 proof / 45% ABV)
  • Sinatra Century: Honors the 100th birthday of Frank Sinatra (100 proof / 50% ABV); Limited Edition
  • Single Barrel Barrel Proof (125 - 140 proof / 62.5 - 70% ABV, depending on the bottle you get)
  • Single Barrel Rye: a permanent line extension and the brand's first fully matured rye whiskey, launched 2016 (94 proof/47% ABV)
  • Special bottlings

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

    1970s and 1980s

  • Maxwell House (1971): The Maxwell House Hotel in Nashville, Tennessee, was famous for more than just its coffee. This decanter is a replica of a bottle originally designed by Lem Motlow. In 1905, Motlow filled the bottle with Jack Daniel's whiskey and sent it to the hotel.
  • Belle of Lincoln (1979): Before 1871, the area that comprises Lynchburg and portions of Moore County was part of the larger Lincoln County, and “Belle of Lincoln” was one of the earliest names under which Jack Daniel sold his whiskey. This commemorative bottle was personally created by Jack Daniel himself 90 proof.
  • Tribute to Tennessee (1982): This was released for the 1982 World's Fair in Knoxville, Tennessee.
  • Inaugural (1984): In 1907, Jack Daniel traveled to Nashville to hear President Theodore Roosevelt speak. The "Inaugural" decanter was released on the 80th anniversary of Roosevelt's presidency. It would commemorate Jack Daniel's admiration of the 26th president. 90 proof.
  • Silver Cornet (1986): When Jack Daniel opened The White Rabbit and Red Dog saloons in Lynchburg in 1892, he thought of a novel way to attract people to the town square. Daniel recruited townspeople and distillery workers as musicians for his new band.
  • Riverboat Captain (1987): In Daniel's day, the Cumberland River was a major thoroughfare for riverboats hauling cotton, tobacco and passengers, with Nashville being a major port of call 90 proof and 86 proof.
  • 1990s

  • 125th Anniversary (1990): Because the company claims the distillery was established in 1866, it issued a 125th anniversary commemorative bottling in 1990.
  • 1895 Replica (1992): The first official square bottle was released in 1895 and embossed with the words “Old Time Distillery No. 7 Jack Daniel Distiller Lynchburg, Tenn.” To pay tribute to this original square bottle, the distillery released an exact replica in 1992.
  • Barrelhouse No. 1 (1994): Barrelhouse 1 is one of the oldest warehouses at the Distillery. This bottle commemorates one of the oldest aging houses on the grounds of the distillery. The barrelhouses were built in 1912. These buildings are seven stories tall and have proven ideal for aging whiskey. 94 proof.
  • Tennessee Bicentennial (1996): 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 celebration in a decorative bicentennial bottle.
  • Jack Daniels Monogram (1998, 2004, 2009): Jack Daniels Monogram is a whiskey that the company used to make for the Asian Markets. The bottle was sold with a leather sleeve. It has the JD monogram in gold in the middle of the bottle. 94 proof. When it was introduced in 2009, the Monogram bottle was a limited release for the state of Tennessee only. However, even though 2009 was the first year this bottle was available in the United States, it actually was released internationally in 1998 and then again in 2004.
  • 2000s

  • 75th Anniversary (2008): Released for the 75th anniversary of the 21st Amendment of the U.S. Constitution, which repealed national prohibition. 90 proof.
  • 70th Anniversary (2008): Twenty-eight years after Prohibition closed the doors to the Jack Daniel Distillery, the distillery returned to making whiskey the way Jack Daniel did. This bottle celebrates the repeal of prohibition and to the reopening of the distillery. 90 proof.
  • Oregon's 150th Birthday (2009): ...It was to celebrate the 150th birthday of this diverse and beautiful state that Jack Daniel’s released a special commemorative bottle in 2009. This 750 ml (26 imp fl oz; 25 US fl oz) bottle was very limited in its release... 86 proof.
  • 2010s

  • American Forests (2010): To celebrate the 40th anniversary of Earth Day in 2010, Jack Daniel’s and American Forests partnered to help restore damaged ecosystems by planting one tree for every limited edition bottle sold.
  • Gentleman's Jack Limited Edition (2010): Even though twice-filtered Gentleman Jack whiskey has risen in popularity since its introduction in 1988, the company had not issued any special bottlings of it until 2010 when the first Limited Edition Gentleman Jack Commemorative Bottle was released. Using the design of the current 4th Generation Gentleman Jack bottle, the distillery produced this commemorative bottle with an image on the back rather than on the more commonly used front.
  • Mr. Jack’s 160th Birthday (2010): This is packaged in a special black bottle. 80 proof.
  • Mr. Jack's 161st Birthday (2011): The special edition of Jack Daniel's, bottled in honor of Daniel's 161st birthday. This has a modified bottle shape with a black wrap. 80 proof.
  • Angelo Lucchesi 90th Birthday (2011): Angelo Lucchesi began working for the Jack Daniel's in 1953 as the distillery’s first salesman. 90 proof.
  • Old No. 7: 1 Million Cases (UK) (2011): An incredibly rare bottle of Jack Daniel's. This was produced to celebrate the sale of 1 million cases of JD in the UK in 2011. Only a handful of these were produced - a real collector's item. 80 proof.
  • White Rabbit Saloon (2012): This commemorates the 120th anniversary of the opening of Jack Daniel's saloon of the same name. 86 proof.
  • Unaged Tennessee Rye (2013): Jack Daniel's first new grain bill since the lift of Prohibition, rye is featured predominantly in the mash of this product rather than corn. The first batch is the run straight from the still and has not been kept in barrels. Only unaged corn spirits may be called whiskey, thus unaged Tennessee Rye is labeled as "Spirits Distilled From Rye. 80 proof.
  • Sinatra Select (2013): A Tennessee whiskey sourced from deeply charred oak barrels and bottled at 90 proof. Meant to tribute Frank Sinatra, it comes with a private invitation to Jack Daniel's Country Club.
  • Rested Tennessee Rye (2014): From the Jack Daniel's official website: "Our Tennessee Rye has been 'resting' quietly in our barrelhouses these past few years and we invite you to watch it mature along with us with this limited release. The spice character from the rye grain remains from the original Unaged Rye, but the barrels have begun to assert their toasted oak and vanilla notes into the rye whiskey. Charcoal mellowed, matured in a new white oak barrel and offered only in this small batch. We think you will appreciate how our Tennessee Rye is maturing." 80 proof.
  • Sinatra's 100th Birthday (2015): ...building up to a global launch in 2015 for Sinatra’s 100th birthday.
  • Series bottling

  • Scenes From Lynchburg (1998–): Around 1998 the company started to sell the first 1-liter bottle in a new bottle line called the "The scenes from Lynchburg". This first bottle was sold only in Europe. It was to include seven different bottles with a little picture/drawing of something – a scene – from Lynchburg. Almost every year a new bottle was made and sold around airports in Europe. Around 2001 the company started selling the same designed bottles in a 750-ml version in Canada, also trying to bring out a new bottle each year. In 2003 the first U.S. version was sold exclusively in Lynchburg also in a 750-ml version with 43% proof whiskey instead of the 40% used in Canada. What started as a bottle line of seven bottles expanded to a total of 12 scenes in the 1-liter size, eight in the 750-ml size and three for Canada. The series appears to have ended.
  • Gold Medal Series (1996–2006): This run, started in 1996 and completed 10 years later, celebrates the company's seven wins of best whiskey at various spirits awards. Each of the seven medals was commemorated by a different bottle design and 86 proof whiskey.
  • Ducks Unlimited Series, Single Barrel (2006–): In 2006, the Jack Daniel Distillery announced that it would team up with Ducks Unlimited to release a special new series of bottles and would donate a portion of sales to this organization’s conservation efforts. Each year since then, a new bottle in the series has been released.
  • Holiday Select Series (2011–2014): Made with barrels used in Lynchburg's barrel tree, these are limited small batch bottlings for the holiday season. The release in 2011 was 100 proof, 2012's bottling was 90.4 proof and 2013's was 98 proof.
  • Master Distiller Series (2012–): This line is meant to honor the seven men who have held the position of master distiller in the company's history. This is bottled with 86 proof whiskey. The second bottle in the series honoring Jess Motlow was released in 2013 with an error on the bottle. The error is a misprint of service dates as 1911–44; Motlow served only until 1941. The distillery recalled shipments and it is believedonly 200 cases were sold in Tennessee and international locations. The corrected bottle was released a few months later.
  • Distillery

    The Jack Daniel 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). 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.

    The distillery is a major tourist attraction, drawing more than a quarter of a million visitors annually. The visitor center, dedicated in June 2000, contains memorabilia related to the distillery and a gift shop. Paid tours of the distillery are conducted several times per day and a premium sampling tour is also offered.

    In February 2016, a $140 million expansion was announced for the distillery. The company will be expanding the visitors center and adding two new barrel houses.


  • Jack Daniel's is the alcoholic component of "Jack and Coke", a common cocktail. In January 2016, Food and Beverage magazine dubbed the drink "The Lemmy" in honor of rock bassist Lemmy who died in December 2015, as it was his regular drink. The "Jack and Coke" is also sometimes called "The Long Island"
  • Jack Daniel's is also the alcoholic component of "Lynchburg Lemonade".
  • Jack Daniel's is a common choice for the Tennessee Whiskey component of the "Three Wise Men".
  • References

    Jack Daniel's Wikipedia