Article And Photos By: Gene Stull
Originally Published In The June 2011 Issue Of Cycle Source Magazine
When the words “Gimme a Jack”’ ring around the world, few know the story behind the brand they’re enjoying, or the man who molded it. As a boy, his relatives were fighting in the war, while he worked producing whiskey with a Lutheran minister. What Jasper Newton “Jack” Daniel did for Lynchburg, Tennessee will never be forgotten. Jack would leave home at an early age, being raised by a family friend. The young man had shown his ability to learn quickly and soon was helping the Reverend, owner of the local grocery store that also operated a whiskey still. Jack would later acquire the still at age 13, devoting everything to evolving his business. Eventually, he was able to hire a few guys to help out. As a couple of years passed, Jack found a piece of land in Lynchburg that included a limestone cave and spring. It would be the pure spring water that would become a very vital asset to his operation. When the war came to an end, the Federal Government levied a tax on distillery operations. At the young age of 16, Jack was the first person to register operations with the United States’ government.
Jack Daniel’s distillery owns the barrel company that produces the hand crafted wood barrels. Hard sugar maple trees are harvested locally to create the charcoal that’s used in the mellow. The lack of acid in the ash makes it the perfect purifier. The 140 proof whiskey passes through 10 feet of charcoal. All of these elements propelled the brand while winning awards everywhere for their distinct flavor. Now I’ve been in love with Jack Daniel’s for quite a while. There’s a huge crowd of us out there that can’t seem to get enough of the brown liquor. All though there are many “Jack” stories to share, I like to think of my first experience with “Jack,” as the best. After getting to visit the distillery, it wouldn’t be a bad trip to make a tradition out of. Man, the special blends offered on location are killer. I rode south from Nashville, where I was camping, getting more anxious every mile. Upon arrival at the distillery, you could feel this great vibe. After we got settled, we went and signed in.
The entry room where we waited for the guide was full of Jack Daniel’s signage & history. Our tour guide was a descendant of Jack with a mild southern accent. His every day job was teaching but he loved giving tours whenever he could. The facility housed tours all day long. Outside, the wood for the barrels sat and aged. Inside the fermentation building, we got a chance to get a whiff of the huge vats of corn mash in the early stages. That was a very strong odor, and not too good. In the mellowing house, the distinct Jack Daniel’s aroma became more apparent. At this point I was searching for my flask, but realized I already drank it all. It was an awesome ride and a really great tour. If you get a chance to visit the distillery, be sure to send Cycle Source some whiskey from the gift shop! The town of Lynchburg will always be know for the iron-free spring water being harvested and molded into Tennessee whiskey that’s enjoyed globally. On Sept. 1, 1911, Jack Daniel died from blood poisoning which started from an infection. Jack’s favorite nephew, Lem Motlow, took over the distillery after his death and kept the business going through state and federal prohibitions. He had pulled it through a time when the nation’s best distillers had gone under leaving behind a tradition that still continues to this day. Cheers to Jack and everyone who enjoys it