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Jack Daniel's - American Made......

by Jeannie Tucker

(first published in the TIN FAX August 1994)

    Before diving right into the history of Jack Daniel's, I feel that a foreword is necessary. Usually Charlene (a TIN FAX contributor) goes to the public library and dives into the research material available. Then she or I call the company and ask for information to be sent or faxed, which we blend into Charlene's research to come up with the company histories which we print every month (in the TIN FAX). However, Charlene has been unable to find information in take library on Jack Daniel's so I called the company to ask them if they would send information. What I got on the other end of the phone line was a delightful surprise. Roger Brashears took the time to tell me all about Jack Daniel and the history of the distillery and answer all my questions. I don't take shorthand so my notes are a little sketchy, (I wish I had a tape of Mr. Brashears; he was so interesting).

    Jack Daniel was 13 years old when he left home and went to work for Dan Call in his country store. At that time, it was legal to make your own whiskey and sell it, and that is just what Dan Call did behind the little country store. Now Dan Call had another occupation besides running the store and making and selling whiskey. He was the local preacher.

    Three years later (September, 1863), there was a revival in Mr. Call's church, and his wife and the congregation decided that Mr. Call had a decision to make - either preach or sell whiskey. He chose to preach and sold 16-year old Jack Daniel the entire whiskey operation for $25.00. Jack Daniel bought out the early distillery and the property where the distillery is currently located.

    In 1911, the Jack Daniel Distillery was left to Jack's nephew, Lem Motlow (Editor's Note - Jack died of blood poisoning resulting from him kicking his office safe, couldn't remember the combination, and breaking his toe, with infection setting in). Lem ran the company until 1947, but not without some legal twists and turns. Tennessee went "dry" in 1910, just before he took over at the helm and then, as you all know, prohibition hit a little later causing real problems and forcing Mr. Motlow to find another way to make a living. During this period, he became a very successful mule trader. In fact he got very wealthy as a mule trader.

    However, after Prohibition, Lem Motlow was elected into public office, and went to work to try to change the liquor laws. One law he did get changed was that liquor could again be made in Tennessee. However, it could not be sold there so it was sold in Kentucky. When he died in1947, he passed the distillery to his 4 sons. In 1956, his sons sold the company to Brown-Forman in Louisville and Jack Daniel's is still part of the Brown Forman company today.

    Mr. Brashears went over some of the information on the tins that I thought was interesting. He said that Jack Daniel's packaged his whiskey in tins that were made in England. He (Mr. Brashears) receives phone calls from people who think they have a really old Jack Daniel's tin and the first thing he he asks them is, "Does it have a letter in it?" When they say "Yes it does," Mr. Brashears knows that they have one of the newer tins put out in the last 30 years (Editor's Note -  according to the official Jack Daniel web site, these "antique replicas" were first made in the early 1970's, used for their "holiday packaging" around Christmas time ), because Jack Daniel never put letters in his tins.

    The tins we find today are pictured after the ones that Jack Daniel had designed and are still being made in England. Some of the more recent tins held whiskey, some were poker sets which held 2 decks of cards and a set of poker chips, and some of the smaller ones held miniature bottles of whiskey or a single deck of cards. A Jack Daniel's tin released around Christmas, 1992, held a bottle of whiskey and a brewer's thermometer. Of course, all of the present-day Jack Daniel's tins have a letter inside describing the contents and telling a little about the distillery (Editor's Note - some present-day tins may be missing this letter, so don't be deceived into thinking that it may be much older.).

    I thought it was interesting that the Black Label whiskey was brought out by Lem Motlow after Jack Daniel's death to symbolize mourning and was expected to last a year, but people liked the Black Label matured whiskey, so it was never discontinued.

    Which brings us to another interesting point, I always thought whiskey was aged. Mr. Brashears corrected me on this point - it is matured, not aged, with the matured whiskey being the Black Label. He explained the maturing process to me, and I'm going to repeat it with apologies to Mr. Brashears if I don't get it straight. It is stored in wooden barrels and is a clear color when first out up. The temperature changes cause the wood to contract and expand, and the liquor seeps into the wood with the process, causing the liquor to turn a caramel color and also, causing the maturing process. Age has nothing to do with it, and, as I understand it, two barrels can be put up the same day and one may be a green label and one a black label, depending on the temperatures and the liquor's interaction with the wood.

    Mr. Brashears suggested the Lynchburg Hardware and General Store as a possible source for the Jack Daniel's tins, although they are sold empty since Lynchburg, Tennessee is a "dry" county. Call 615-759-4200 for information.

    Jack Daniel's distillery offers a tour of the facilities, and if you happen to make the trip, ask to see Mr. Brashears. His office is right above where the tour starts. Or, if you have a question about a Jack Daniel's tin in your collection, he has asked that you call him on his direct phone line, 1-615-759-6180 and he will try to help figure out what came in it and even let you know what year it was distributed. However, if you do call Mr. Brashears, prepare to meet a charming man, full of Jack Daniel's trivia (been with the company 31 years), and I think he enjoys telling all the Jack Daniel's stories as much as you will enjoy hearing them.

(Editor's Note: Jeannie's article goes on about the three different letters she has found, "Why I box my goods in tin", "On putting trust in YOUR NOSE", and the third was found in a card tin, "As any TRUE PROFESSIONAL...    I'll let you collectors discover what the letters read.)

Click for Gentleman Jack's home page or Singlebarrel pages.

The Unofficial Jack Daniel's Commemorative Decanter Web page

Check out Brown-Forman History

Search for Jack Daniel items on eBay  Search Active Items  Search Completed Items  


 The Jack Daniels Tribute Site -  Collectable Jack Daniels bottles and related items



Some other Jack Daniel collectibles


JACK DANIEL'S DECANTER 13in. tall., decal and on the back is a sticker that tells who the taster and master distiller was. Comes with a nice booklet that tells about MAXWELL HOUSE, THE HOTEL IN NASHVILLE TEN

An 1980 Jack Daniel's Etched glass Decanter/with top. It stands approx. 13" tall and a six flower petal type of pattern swooping down the decanter.

Jack Daniels Box with 8 Pictures and newspaper. The box measures 26"L x 13 1/2"W x 17 3/8"H.. This box is made of plywood stained to specification. Has Jack Daniels Logo on the front, Lynchburg, Tenn. The picture captions are as follows 1)The Jack Daniel Distillery located in the foothills of the Cumberland Mountains at Lynchburg, Tenn. 2)Cutting down a hard maple growing on high ground. It will be sawed up and rick-burned in the open air for charcoal to smooth out our whiskey. 3)Jack Daniel's limestone spring that comes from deep inside a cave. It runs year-round at 56 degrees, and most important, it's virtually iron-free. 4)Each batch of Jack Daniel's is tested to make sure it has been properly gentled by our Charcoal Mellowing process. 5)ack Daniel's desk in his office that still stands near our limestone spring. 6) After charcoal mellowing, Jack Daniel's is taken to the warehouse to be aged until it has reached full maturity. 7)Charcoal is packed in room-high vats. Jack Daniel's whiskey then seeps through drop by drop. 8)Statue of Jack Daniel which stands in front of the cave and our limestone spring. Old office is at the right. The old newspaper also comes with. Its a repo of the older times?. Dated November 25th 1892. The Lynchburg Falcon.


Jack Daniel's Legacy - If you love Jack Daniel's you will have to like this book it has a copyright date of 1967 and in new condition. The book tells about the life, and some genealogy of the Daniel family. Stories about his young life, and the formation of the oldest registered distillery in America. PICTURES TOO!!

Jack Daniel's Lighter. On face of lighter in white lettering says Jacks are better, with four aces, [ two red and two black ] below aces in white lettering is Jack Daniel's logo.



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