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Jack Daniels

Updated on May 17, 2014

The Founder of Jack Daniels

The American distiller and founder of Jack Daniels Tennessee whisky was born as Jasper Newton "Jack" Daniels.

His grandparents immigrated to America in the late 18th century, his grandfather was born in Wales and his grandmother in Scotland.

Jack Daniels was born on the 5th September 1850 and died in October 1911.

Daniels mother died shortly after his birth and his father remarried and had three children with his stepmother.

He was the youngest of 10 children born to his mother and had three extra siblings from the stepmother.

Jasper was born on a Moore County farm and at the age of ten was told by his father to learn a trade.

He was hired by the local minister who ran a dry good store in Lynchburg, Tennessee. The dry stores included everything that families needed to run a farm, business or home.

A dry stores owner had to be a jack of all trades and needed to supply whatever it was that his clients would ask for and one of these products was a whisky that the Reverend Call distilled on his own from an old Irish recipe, with his own unique methods.

Jasper learnt quickly to have a shrewd business mind and he was also taught how to distill the whisky that the Reverend sold to many people.

War came and the Reverend along with Jasper delivered whisky to the troops, when a young evangelist got word of the whisky out to the reverends wife, which made him have to choose between being a preacher or a liquor distiller. He chose to serve the lord and handed over his business to Jasper, who was only twelve years old.

Jasper Daniels worked on other methods to distill the whisky and at the age of 13, was upset by the passing of his father. He concentrated on the business and hired a few more people to help him. Jasper was exempt from going to war as he was under the age.

Daniels found a piece of land in Lynchburg with a limestone cave and a spring which became his most important tool for his business.

Jasper "Jack" Daniels
Jasper "Jack" Daniels
The limestone cave in Lynchburg
The limestone cave in Lynchburg
The original bottle of Jack Daniels
The original bottle of Jack Daniels
Jasper "Jack" Daniels was known for his long black coat and hat.
Jasper "Jack" Daniels was known for his long black coat and hat.
Antique bottle of Jack Daniels
Antique bottle of Jack Daniels

The Rise and Rise of Jack Daniels

At the age of sixteen, Jasper, now know as Jack Daniels, was the first person to register his distillery as he knew that the Federal government would be coming to visit for tax purposes. The whisky was a product that the government did well with and although he hated it, Jack Daniels made a good move by registering his business.

He produced quicker than ever and promoted his brand in order to collect big profits by increasing his production. Jasper stayed on top of the industry and perfected the unique taste and distilling process.

At the age of 21, he went into the city and went on a major shopping spree where he bought clothing and distinguished himself as the man with the long, black coat and the planter's hat.

He was the only distiller to use hot air balloons for his marketing and fascinated the locals with his unique advertising techniques.

He also used commemorative bottles to celebrate certain events but his original bottle was square to represent him being a "square shooter."

With everything that is up, it must come down and often Jack had issues with new government, even though he tried to stay in the middle. He did however support those who had his best interests by participating in political rallies.

The most popular rally was for the "War of the Roses" which was Republican and Democratic oppositions who wore a white rose for one party and a red for the other. It was about two brothers who were fighting politically and even though Jack Daniels supported the losing party, he was made even more popular with his brand.

As Daniels supported the political rallies, he decided to liven them up a bit by gathering local musicians together to spice the rallie's up. The people loved it and Jack decided that the town could use a band. He bought nickel plated instruments and formed a the "Jack Daniels Original Silver Cornet Band," which was first made up of 13 members, some being employees of Jacks.

The band became popular and was used at almost every occasion, usually in a marquee in front of the courthouse square. Jack Daniels was talked about throughout America and word travelled to Europe too.

As he never married or had any children, Jack brought in family members to learn the business and his nephew, Lem Motlow, also had a good eye for the business.

He heard about the World's Fair, that would be coming to America, where the Jack Daniel's brand would be up against the best distilleries from Europe. Lem also had good promotion skills and convinced his Uncle to enter into the fair.

The company would have lots to lose if they failed to impress at the fair as they had never done this before but each and every member of the Jack Daniel's brand was confident and proud of their product, so much so, that they won the World Fair's gold medal and was honored as the world's best whiskey.

Word spread throughout Europe and in 1905, Jack Daniel's was awarded yet another gold medal in Belgium. By now, the brand of Jack Daniel's whiskey was popular and known all around the world.

Jack Daniels Original Silver Cornet Band
Jack Daniels Original Silver Cornet Band
Jack Daniel's distillery, Lynchburg, Tennessee
Jack Daniel's distillery, Lynchburg, Tennessee
The safe that caused Jack Daniel's gangrene
The safe that caused Jack Daniel's gangrene

The Fall of Jasper "Jack" Daniels

As Jack was extremely busy with his business, travelling from county to country, he did not have much time for anything other than business.

In 1906, he went into the office and tried to open the safe and had forgotten the combination, leading him to kick the heavy safe with his foot in anger.

He broke his toe and never had it seen to by a doctor, causing an infection to set into the toe. The infection caused gangrene which soon spread into his entire system, resulting in him losing his leg.

The illness began to eventually wear him down and at this time, he turned all of his business over to his nephew and later on the deed too.

Jack Daniel's survived until October 1911, where he died of complications from the gangrene infection.

He was laid to rest in a huge ceremony in Lynchburg, Tennessee, where at his tombstone, two wrought iron chairs were placed as he did not have a family or wife of his own, he was said to have dated many women and the chairs were placed there for that reason.

Lem Motlow, Jack Daniel's nephew
Lem Motlow, Jack Daniel's nephew
The Jack Daniel's family
The Jack Daniel's family

Jack Daniel's Brand Continues

After Jasper "Jack" Daniels passed away, his nephew Lem Motlow continued on through state and federal prohibitions. He was as driven as his uncle and after Jack died, produced a black label bottle in 1912, changing the original green. The black label represented whiskey that had aged longer.

Lem had problems with the government has was finally forced by prohibition to shut down the distillery, where he ended up trading mules. His son was in World War 1 as a veteran and served a term as a state senate.

The family never gave up on the tradition of Jack Daniels and as soon as prohibition ended, Lem reopened the distillery and Jack Daniels became a household name once again.

The U.S treasury department finally listed Jack Daniels as a Bourbon and classed it as a Tennessee whiskey.

Lem did not change the name of the whiskey and kept the business as Jack Daniels which he was proud to have rebuilt and even during World War 2, provided the troops with fuel. Al Capone was desperate for the Tennessee Whiskey and when Lem moved his operation to St Louis he sold the entire batch to a businessman, but the businessman received an empty load, due to Capone and his men stealing it.

Once Lem moved back to Tennessee, he corrected the mistake and continued on to make the brand successful.

He died in 1947 and was laid to rest beside his uncle in Lynchburg, Tennessee.

In 1956 Jack Daniels Distillery was sold to Brown Forman Beverage Worldwide, Inc.

They understood that Jack Daniels was not only a whiskey but it was a town and Lynchburg has been used as the advertising campaign ever since.

You can go on a tour to see the Jack Daniels Distillery.

Jack Daniels Black Label
Jack Daniels Black Label

Jack Daniel's Old No7 Brand

Many people have asked why the bottle was labelled "Jack Daniels' No7," and research has not really said much. Many have said that it was the number of girlfriends Jack had, his lucky number, and some say it was from the combination of his safe. The closest I find was from a biographer, Peter Krass, who said that Jack Daniels tax number was 16 and to avoid confusion, he labelled the bottle as 7 so as not to bend to the government.

Jack Daniels Distillery tour


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    • Tashaonthetown profile imageAUTHOR

      Natasha Pelati 

      4 years ago from South Africa

      Thank you!

    • choosetolive profile image

      Ravi and Swastha 

      4 years ago from London, Canada

      Interesting article. Thumps up !


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