Science Fair Project Encyclopedia
Jack Daniel's is a Tennessee whiskey distillery and brand known for its square bottles and black label. The company, based in Lynchburg, Tennessee, has been owned by the Brown-Forman conglomerate since 1956.
It is believed that the founder — Jack Daniel — was born in September 1850, although seemingly no one knows the exact date. If the 1850 date is correct, he may have become a licensed distiller at the age of 16, as the distillery claims a founding date of 1866. Other records list his birthdate as September 5, 1846, and in his 2004 biography Blood & Whiskey: The Life and Times of Jack Daniel author Peter Krass maintains that land and deed records show the distillery was actually not founded until 1875. Daniel was one of thirteen children, from Scotch-Irish descent.
Since Jack Daniel never married and did not have any children, he took his favorite nephew, Lem Motlow, under his wing. Lem had a head for numbers and was soon doing all the distillery's bookkeeping. In 1907, due to failing health, Jack Daniel gave the distillery to his nephew. Jack later died from blood poisoning in 1911. The infection allegedly set up originally in a toe, which Daniel injured in kicking his safe in anger when he couldn't get it open — he had always had trouble remembering the combination.
When the company was later incorporated, it was incorporated as "Jack Daniel Distillery, Lem Motlow, Prop., Inc." This has allowed the company to continue to pretend in marketing that Lem Motlow, who died in 1947, is the current proprietor, as mentioning him in the advertising is technically just citing the full corporate name. Likewise, the advertisements continue to say that Lynchburg has only 361 people, while the current (2000 census) population is actually 5,740. This is allowable because the entire label was trademarked in the early 1960s when this figure was the actual population cited by the Census Bureau; the label cannot be changed without applying for a new trademark. However, the 361 figure is also used on their website, which has nothing to do with the old label trademark issue.
In October, 2004 it was announced that all generally-available Jack Daniel's products would henceforth be bottled at 80 U.S. proof (40% alcohol by volume), which is the highest proof allowed in some jurisidictions; this will simplify the production process. Previously to this, the famous black-label brand (the better-quality, higher-priced product) had generally for several years been 86 proof, where legal, the lower-end green label 80 proof; these marked reductions from the previous practice until recent years of bottling the black-label product at 90 proof and the green-label product at 86. Both are made from the same ingredients; the difference is determined by professional tasters who determine which of the batches will be graded out as worthy of being labelled with the prestigious black label, the rest being sold under the green label.
In recent years, a third product, "Gentleman Jack", was created. It has always been bottled at 80 proof since its inception. This superpremium product is produced in the same manner as other Tennessee whiskey except that after aging and prior to bottling it is once again subjected to the Lincoln County Process (charcoal-filtering). There is also now a 94 proof "Single Barrel" product available in some markets, which has also been sold in commemorative bottles at the distillery in recent years, which is the only place where alcohol is legally retailed in Moore County, Tennessee, a "dry" county.
The current Master Distiller is Jimmy Bedford.
- Official website
- "Brand Story" from Emediaplans
- Jack Daniel's family genealogy
- Jack Daniel's Collectors Page
- Peter Krass site promoting biography
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