Jack Daniel Distillery lies in the rolling hills of
Moore County, Tennessee, near the town of Lynchburg
which is located 70 miles southeast of Nashville. When
the founder Jasper Newton Daniel was born, this area was
still a part of Lincoln County.
Jasper Newton "Jack" Daniel’s date of birth is unclear,
since a town fire destroyed the courthouse records. Most
commonly his birth date is believed to be September
1850, since the only thing that is certain with his
birth date is that it was in the month of September.
There are also records that indicate he may have been
born in September 1846.
Jack Daniel was the youngest son of 13 children to
Calaway Daniel, a man with Irish-Scottish decent. Jasper
lived with a family friend until he was seven when he
was hired out to work with the Dan Call family. Call, a
Lutheran minister, also owned a whiskey still on the
Louse River. Jack learned everything possible about
whiskey-making from Call during the following years.
Like Dan Call, he believed in mellowing the fresh
whiskey through hard maple charcoal, a process which is
unique to Tennessee whiskey-making and is also known as
the Lincoln process.
To this day, the Charcoal Mellowing that Call taught
Jack is what gives Jack Daniel’s its smooth character
and taste. The charcoal mellowing process is the only
technical difference between Tennessee whiskey and
bourbon. The difference was officially acknowledged in
1941 by the US Government.
When Jack was only 13 years old, in September 1863, he
bought the still from Call who had decided to
concentrate on his religious calling. Jack registered
his distillery in 1866 and obtained a license to produce
whisky in the state of Tennessee. Jack Daniel’s
distillery was the first registered distillery in the US
and is also the oldest registered distillery in the US
still making whiskey.
Jack moved the distillery near to his birthplace when a
particular piece of land near Lycnhburg became available.
The area was a perfect site for brewing excellent
quality whisky with iron-free spring water from a
limestone cave, plenty of corn, rye and barley fields
and an abundant supply of as sugar maple trees.
Initially Jack Daniel bottled his whiskey in earthenware
jugs with cork stoppers as was usual at the time.
However, he stenciled his name on the jugs. When glass
bottles became fashionable in the late 1870 Jack
developed a standard round glass bottle with the
distillery name embossed on it. In 1895 he was shown a
unique and untested bottle design; a square bottle with
a fluted neck; a design that would distinguish his
whiskey from others. The same square bottle is used for
the Jack Daniels whiskey we drink today.
In 1904 when the World Fair was held in St. Louis,
Missouri, Jack entered his whiskey Old No. 7 Tennessee (sippin')
whiskey in the international competition. He won the
gold medal for "the world's finest whiskey". It was the
only whiskey that was awarded a gold medal.
Jack was a thrifty salesman and his company grew
steadily. During the St. Louis World's Fair, he began
what was to become a lifelong friendship with one of the
international judges, Mr. M. Hoctor of Great Britain. He
in turn encouraged Jack to export his whiskey to Europe.
At the 1905 International Exposition in Liege, Belgium,
Old No. 7 was admired and awarded another Gold Medal.
Jack Daniel never married nor did he have any children.
Instead, he took his nephew under his wing in 1887.
Jack's 17 year-old nephew Lem Motlow was hard working
and very good with numbers and soon became the
bookkeeper of the distillery.
In 1905 Jack arrived at work an early morning and when
he tried to open the safe he could not remember the
combination. In anger he kicked the safe and sadly the
only result was a broken toe that refused to heal. Due
to his failing health Jack retired in 1907 and gave the
distillery to Lem. Around this time the idea of
prohibition was really beginning to take hold and in
1909 Moore County was among the first states voted "dry".
The rest of the country went dry ten years later.
In 1910 National Prohibition legislation prohibited Jack
Daniel’s distillery to produce sprits in Tennessee. The
distillery moved to St Louis, Missouri, and Birmingham,
Alabama. The attempts to make whisky on those sites were
never fruitful due to the changed conditions with
different water for example. No whiskey made outside of
Lynchburg was ever sold. In 1911 Jack Daniel died from
blood poisoning, from the infection caused by his broken
toe. He was buried in Lynchburg. Next to his headstone
two chairs were placed for the many ladies who mourned
Nationwide Prohibition was instituted in January 1919,
via the 18th amendment to the U.S. Constitution, and the
distillery was shut down. When Prohibition was repealed,
via the 21st amendment to the U.S. Constitution, in
December 1933 it did not supersede similar state laws
and as a result the state of Tennessee remained dry
until 1936. At this time Lem Motlow was State Senator
and he understandably spent a lot of time lobbying. He
was successful and a bill was pass passed in 1937 which
allowed whisky to be produced in Tennessee and sold in
other states -Jack Daniel’s Distillery could finally
return to Lynchburg.
Production resumed in 1938 but due to cash flow problems
Lem was forced to bottle some of the barrels before they
had matured for four years. The Lem Motlow’s Tennessee
Whiskey was matured for 12 months only and the first
bottling occurred in 1939. The brand was only ever sold
in Tennessee and Georgia and was discontinued in 1986.
From 1942 through 1947 the U.S. Government banned all
whiskey making for the duration of World War II, which
forced the Jack Daniel’s distillery to go dry for a
second time. When the ban was lifted in 1946 a
restriction remained which allowed only inferior grades
of grain to be used in whiskey making. Unwilling to
compromise with quality Lem refused to resume operation
until 1947 when the restriction was lifted and good
quality grain where once more available.
expanded the business and in 1944 his name was
incorporated in the company name. When Lem died in 1947
the distillery was handed on to his sons. It was sold in
1956 to the Brown-Forman conglomerate but the Motlow
family is still majority owner and continues to operate
and manage the company. The company name "Jack Daniel
Distillery, Lem Motlow, Prop., Inc." also includes
“Lynchburg (361)”. When the label was trademarked in the
early 1960s the population of Lynchburg actually was 361
which is the cause behind that number. The label cannot
be changed without applying for a new trademark, which
might be the reason why the number is still 361. The
current population of Lynchburg is close to 5,800,
largely due to its consolidation with Moore County.
Regarding the origin of the name Old No. 7, there are
conflicting theories. Some say that it had to do with a
lucky roll of the dice, others that it refers to Jack's
seventh try at a mash recipe, but neither theory has
been proved to be the truth.
Although whiskey production accounts for a major segment
of the Moore County economy, the county remains dry. Up
until January 1995 whiskey could not be sold at all. Due
to the 1994 special act of the Tennessee Legislature,
Jack Daniel’s Distillery is able to sell commemorative
decanters containing Jack Daniel's Tennessee Whiskey.
The distillery makes a $3.50 donation to Moore County
for every bottle sold.
The Old no. 7 bottling sells the most and it is
available in 130 countries. In 1988 Gentleman Jack Rare
Tennessee Whiskey was released, the first new whiskey
release in a long time. It is charcoal-mellowed twice -
once before it's aged in those charred white oak barrels,
and once again four years later before it's bottled. The
double charcoal mellowing gives the whiskey a very
smooth and elegant character, thus the name. Since 1997
single barrels have been released .
A Selection of Heaven
Jack Daniel's Old No. 7 40%
Gentleman Jack 40%
Jack Daniels Single Barrel 40%
One of the most well-known American whiskeys. The
distillery was placed on the National Registry of
Historical Places in 1972.
Jack Daniels pours a dark
golden/coppery color. The whiskey aroma is very present
if you are within 2-3 feet of the pour. The nose is
earthy, smooth and woody with fruity undertones. The
taste is woody with lots of vanilla and clearly
The water from Cave Springs is clear and rich in
minerals from limestone. Jack Daniel’s only uses one
mash tun. The mix for all whiskies is 80% corn (maize),
12% rye and 8% barley. Sour mash is used in the process
(a small amount of mash from an earlier batch). The
distillery uses 16 open washbacks made from stainless
Besides being made in Tennessee, what makes Jack
Daniel’s a Tennessee whiskey and not a bourbon, is the
‘Lincoln County Process’, more commonly known as
charcoal mellowing. The mellowing involves dripping the
liquor through 10 foot deep vats of maple charcoal. The
charcoal used is produced at the distillery from hard
sugar maple trees cut from the Tennessee countryside,
split into short lengths (staves) and stacked into
Ricks. These are then burnt in the open air and cooled
with water from a hose until charcoal is produced. Once
the spirit has seeped through the charcoal, fusel oils
and other minor impurities are leeched from the spirit,
and the end result is a smooth Jack Daniel’s Whiskey.
whisky is cut to 62.5 ABV and is stored in new oak
barrels from a cooperage in Kentucky. According to
American law, whisky barrels may only be used once, so
used barrels are sold as garden decorations, burned as
fuel or sold to Europe where they are used by Scottish
and Irish whisky distilleries. After maturing in the
more than 50 warehouses on the distillery grounds, the
whisky is bottled on site and shipped out for the world
The annual output of the Jack Daniels Distillery is 8-9
Jack Daniel Distillery, Route 1,
Lynchburg, Tennessee 37352, USA
Visitors are welcomed in the modern visitor centre
(built in 1999). The Visitor centre is open every day
except Thanksgiving, Christmas Eve day, Christmas, New
Year's Eve day and New Year's Day.
Tour hours are: 9:00 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Tours last about
an hour and fifteen minutes and start every fifteen
minutes. Visitors are asked not to take backpacks,
camera bags, tote bags, shopping bags or other large
bags on the tour.
Due to Tennessee law, the White Rabbit Bottle Shop is
closed on Sundays. It is also closed on the days the
distillery is closed to visitors, as well as on certain
holidays like the Fourth of July and Labour Day.
However, the shop is allowed to do business on Election
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