Saturday, March 13, 2010

Jack Daniel's Tennessee Whiskey


Jack Daniel's Tennessee Whiskey
Jack Daniel's Visitor Center
Lynchburg, Tennessee, USA 37352



Editor's Note: Though technically not a Bourbon (it's a Tennessee Sour Mash), we've included Jack Daniels in our Bourbon collection because of its legendary popularity in the United States.

The Home of Jack:
The Jack Daniel Distillery – the oldest registered distillery in the U.S. – is where it all happens. It's where Mr. Jack first crafted the recipe for Old No. 7. It's where the pure, iron-free cave spring water flows. And it's where every drop of Jack Daniel's Tennessee Sippin' Whiskey is still made today.

Jack Daniel The Man: Yes, Jack Daniel was a real person, and a pretty fascinating one at that. From birth to death, legend surrounded him. And in between he created Jack Daniel's Tennessee Whiskey. That alone makes him legendary in our eyes.

Mr. Jack's Birthday: No one really knows exactly when Jack Daniel was born. A town fire destroyed the courthouse records, and conflicting dates on Mr. Jack's and his mother's headstones have left his date of birth in question. It's customary to celebrate Mr. Jack's birthday in September – so he gets a whole month. But for a man as unique as Jack Daniel, one day just wouldn't seem proper, anyway.

Mr. Jack's Calling: Jack Daniel left home at an early age and was raised by a family friend named Dan Call. Mr. Call was a Lutheran minister, but also owned a whiskey still just outside of Lynchburg. It was here where young Jack learned about making whiskey. In September of 1863, when Jack was only 13 years old, Call decided to devote his life to his ministry and sold him the still.

Cave Spring Water: Jack Daniel's Tennessee Whiskey is made with cool, pure, iron-free cave spring water from right here in the Hollow. This water flows year-round at 800 gallons per minute at a constant temperature of 56° and is virtually iron free. It's the reason why the Distillery was located in this spot originally – and why it's remained there ever since. Just outside the cave you'll find a statue of Jack Daniel. The man himself, standing guard over this prized spring.

Making History: The Jack Daniel Distillery was licensed in 1866, making it the oldest registered distillery in the United States and a National Historic Site.

Lucky No. 7: As you may have already noticed, there are quite a few legends surrounding the Old No. 7 brand and many stories have been passed down about its significance. Some say that Jack Daniel had 7 girlfriends, or that the way he wrote his “J” looked like a 7. Some say he chose the number 7 simply because it's lucky. We'll never know for sure – Mr. Jack took that secret to the grave. Either way, we consider ourselves lucky that he created Jack Daniel's the way he did.

Mixing Jack Daniel's and Music: In 1892, Jack Daniel created the Silver Cornet Band to draw crowds to the Lynchburg Square and his two saloons – the White Rabbit and the Red Dog. He ordered all of the instruments – including, of course, cornets – from the Sears and Roebuck catalog for less than $300 and had Jack Daniel's Old No. 7 painted on the side of the drum.

The thirteen “musicians” who made up the band weren't technically musicians at all – they were townspeople from Lynchburg. Despite their lack of experience, the band was good – and known and loved throughout the region. Mr. Jack's Silver Cornet Band even played the campaign swings of presidential candidate William Jennings Bryan and Tennessee gubernatorial candidate Robert Love Taylor. The band disbanded when World War I began and the men of Lynchburg volunteered for service. Even though their music came to an end, their story lives on.

The Safe: As the story goes, Mr. Jack arrived at work early one morning and tried to open the safe in his office. Thing is, he couldn't recall the combination. In his frustration, he gave that safe a good, solid kick. The blow broke his toe and infection set in, leading to the blood poisoning that would take his life in 1911. Because he never married or had children, he deeded the Distillery to his hard-working nephew, Lem Motlow. Some people say Jack Daniel not only left his Tennessee Whiskey behind, he left us all a valuable lesson as well: Don't go to work early.

Jack Daniel's Grave: Though still with us in spirit, Jack Daniel died in 1911. He's buried in the Lynchburg town cemetery, and you can find his grave by looking for the two chairs next to his headstone. It's said that the chairs were placed there to comfort the many local ladies who mourned his passing.

Crafting Jack Daniel's: We do things a little differently around here – and that's what gives Jack Daniel's its distinctive character. We Charcoal Mellow our whiskey drop by drop, then let it age in our own handcrafted barrels. And we don't follow a calendar. Our Tennessee Sippin' Whiskey is ready only when our tasters say it is. We use our senses, just like Jack Daniel himself did. In fact, more than a century later, our Tennessee Whiskey is still judged the same way. By the way it looks. By the way it smells. And of course, by the way it tastes.

Jack Daniel believed "Every day we make it, we'll make it the best we can." For him, that meant mellowing his whiskey drop by drop through ten feet of sugar maple charcoal.

Seven generations later, we still mellow our whiskey just as Mr. Jack did. The reason is simple: it imparts a distinctive smoothness folks have come to expect from Jack Daniel's. Charcoal Mellowing makes Jack Daniel's what it is – a Tennessee Whiskey and not a Bourbon. It refines our whiskey's rich flavor even before we fully mature it in barrels of our own making. Yes, it's a painstaking process that demands extra attention and makes our whiskey a bit more costly to craft. But Mr. Jack wouldn't have it any other way. Neither would we.

A Mature Taste: We all know age isn't the same thing as maturity. It's true of people and it's true of whiskey. Experience determines maturity. It's what a whiskey experiences while inside the barrel and not simply how long it's been there that gives it the rich color, character, and taste that we call mature. Mellowing our whiskey through ten feet of sugar maple charcoal, crafting our own barrels, and placement in the barrelhouse—each contributes to how our whiskey matures. Age by itself isn't a reliable measure of a whiskey's quality and character. Which is why our tasters tell us when the whiskey is ready. We judge its quality the same way you do – with a sip.

Not Just Any Barrel. Our Barrel:
An important part of making our quality whiskey is making a quality barrel. That's why we devote the same care and attention to barrel making as we do to making Jack Daniel's itself. We start by selecting the very best white oak for the barrel staves. Our craftsmen fit the staves together by hand, then carefully toast and char the inside of the barrel to caramelize the wood's natural sugars. It's from the toasted oak that the whiskey draws its rich amber color, distinctive flavor, and finish. We entrust our whiskey only to new white oak. The barrel's quality is so important to us that we're the only distiller who goes to the extra effort and expense to craft our own.

A Square Bottle for a Square Shoote: r Jack Daniel first bottled his whiskey in earthenware jugs. By the late 1870s, however, glass bottles were all the rage, so Mr. Jack went with a standard, round, glass-mold bottle embossed with the Distillery name. But this didn't satisfy him for long. His whiskey was different and he figured the bottle he put it in should be, too. Then in 1895, he found it when a salesman with the Alton Glass Company introduced him to an unusual square bottle with a fluted neck. Legend has it Mr. Jack said since he was a square shooter, he should have a square bottle. More than 100 years later, the square bottle remains a symbol of Jack Daniel's unique heritage.

As for Mr. Jack, he remained quite the bottle aficionado, and continued to introduce eye-catching commemorative bottles in limited quantities. Today, the Distillery carries on this tradition, issuing decorative decanter bottles from time to time. Some of the bottles honor Mr. Jack's accomplishments, while others capture the spirit and style of the time they represent.

That Famous Label: Some folks might think the label on our Old No. 7 Whiskey Bottle is kind of cluttered. But there's a lot packed on that label. A list of gold medals Jack Daniel's has won. A little history. And some of the many stories that make Jack Daniel's unique.

Award Winning Whiskey: Back in 1904, Jack Daniel decided to take his whiskey to the World's Fair in St. Louis. Folks wondered what this little man from Tennessee was doing there. But they didn't wonder for long. He became the toast of the Fair, winning the Gold Medal for "the world's finest whiskey." And it didn't stop there. Throughout the years, Jack Daniel's has brought home the prize from competitions the world over.

  • 1904: First gold medal won by Jack Daniel's Whiskey at the World's Fair in St. Louis.
  • 1905: First international gold medal won by Mr. Jack in Liege, Belgium.1913: Lem Motlow entered Jack Daniel's Whiskey and won this gold medal in Ghent, Belgium.
  • 1914: Gold medal awarded during the Anglo-American Exposition in London, England.
  • 1915: The Certificate of the Institute of Hygiene was presented to Jack Daniel's in London, England.
  • 1954: The Star of Excellence awarded Jack Daniel's in Brussels, Belgium.
  • 1981: Gold medal with palm leaves from Institut Pour Les Selections De La Qualite, Amsterdam.

The Gold Medal Decanter series was created to commemorate these honors. There are seven collectible bottles, and each one bears the medal for which it's named. Look for these special, limited edition Gold Medal bottles at your spirits retailer.

You may not know that we have several brands in our family. And just as every member of your family is different, our brands are different as well. But there's one thing they all have in common and that's the spirit of Jack Daniel's.

Courtesy of Jack Daniel's Distillery