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Posted 07/15/2023 in Historical

Jack Daniels Distillery: The Legacy of an American Icon

Jack Daniels Distillery: The Legacy of an American Icon

Jack Daniels Distillery Tennessee

Jack Daniels Distillery Tennessee, an iconic name in the world of whiskey, has a storied history that is deeply intertwined with American culture and heritage.

The Jack Daniels Distillery Tennessee was founded by Jasper Newton "Jack" Daniel in the late 1800s, this distillery is renowned for its distinctive charcoal-mellowed Tennessee whiskey. The origin story of Jack Daniels is steeped in legend and lore, particularly surrounding its exact founding date, which remains a mystery due to lost records. 

Jack Daniels Distillery TN: The Early Years 

In the mid-19th century, the birth of a boy named Jasper Newton “Jack” Daniel marked a pivotal moment in American whiskey's history. Jack was born around 1846 to Callaway and Lucinda Daniel as the youngest of 10 brothers and sisters around Lynchburg TN.  His mother passed away shortly after his birth in 1947 and his father remarried a lady by the name of Matilda.

Its interesting to note that Jack Daniel's grave in Lynchburg TN says 1850 for his death yet his mother died in January 1847. Unfortunately, birth records were destroyed by a fire in the city preventing accurate record keeping.  It is estimated that he was born in September 1846.  Though there isn't direct confirmation on this.

Jack Daniel's Parents Gravesite in Lynchburg TNJack Daniel's Parents Gravesite in Lynchburg TN

Jack despised his new step-mother Matilda, and as a result, he ran away from home.  Essentially he became an orphan at a young age, but the challenges he faced only served to shape a determined and resilient spirit that would later forge the iconic Jack Daniel’s brand.

Jack Daniel's Parents: Callaway and Stepmother Matilda DanielJack Daniel's Parents: Callaway and Stepmother Matilda Daniel

Jack Daniel of Jack Daniels Distillery in Lynchburg TNJack Daniel of Jack Daniels Distillery in Lynchburg TN

Jack Daniels Distillery TN:  The Teenage Years

In his teenage years, Jack Daniels found a new home with a local Lutheran minister and moonshine maker, Dan Call.  There, Jack's life took a significant turn as he met Nathan "Nearest" Green, a slave working for Dan Call in Lynchburg TN. Despite the societal barriers of the time, Green, skilled in the “sour mash” method and charcoal filtration process (now known as the Lincoln County Process), shared his knowledge with young Jack. Green's tutelage provided a foundation for the unique taste of Jack Daniel’s whiskey, a product that continues to appeal to global palates.  

This early training helps formulate some ideas about how the Jack Daniel's Distillery TN and their "Tennessee Whiskey" would eventually be created.  And cementing the master distillers Jack Daniels and Nearest Green in the history books.

George Green and Jack DanielsGeorge Green, Nearest's Son next to Jack Daniel

Green’s contributions did not end with his lessons; after emancipation, he chose to continue working with Jack, becoming the first African American master distiller in the U.S. Together, they established a legally registered distilling business in 1875 with Jack's inheritance from his father.

Here's a short video about Nearest Green on YouTube.


Jack Daniels Distillery TN and Stillhouse Hollow

The heart of the Jack Daniels Distillery Tennessee was the property purchased by Jack Daniel in 1884 in Lynchburg TN, known as “Stillhouse Hollow.” A limestone-filtered spring at the base of a cliff on the property provided the key ingredient for the distillery’s whiskey. The land, now home to the Jack Daniel’s Distillery, would become a hallmark of Tennessee whiskey production.

Jack Daniels Distillery Spring WaterJack Daniels Distillery Spring Water

Jack Daniels Distillery TN: Unique Bottles

Jack Daniel's Distillery Tennessee approach to business was as unique as the whiskey he produced. In the late 1890s, he chose square-shaped bottles to reflect his brand's fairness and integrity. This brand vision, coupled with the whiskey's exceptional quality, earned Jack the gold medal for the world's finest whiskey at the 1904 St. Louis World’s Fair.

Early photos of Jack Daniels WhiskeyEarly photos of Jack Daniels Whiskey Jugs

Jack Daniels Jugs -- note square bottle on rightJack Daniels Bottles -- note square bottle on right 1895

The JD Distillery Moved Out of Tennessee ... Then Back

As Jack Daniel’s health waned, he passed the distillery's reins to his two nephews in 1907, a transition marking the first of many challenges the distillery would face. Tennessee state law enacted prohibition in 1910, forcing the Jack Daniels distillery Tennessee to relocate from Lynchburg TN to both St. Louis, Missouri, and Birmingham, Alabama. Jack Daniel died in 1911, leaving a lasting legacy encapsulated in his namesake distillery.  Learn more about Lynchburg and Jack Daniels history on Lynchburg TN Questions Answered.

Just up the road in Tullahoma, the George Dickel distillery also had to move out of Tennessee during prohibition.

Jack Daniels Distillery in St Louis, MOJack Daniels Distillery in St Louis, MO - building razed in 2005

A short YouTube video about the Jack Daniels distillery in Alabama.


When federal Prohibition ended in 1933, Tennessee’s state law remained in effect. It was only in 1938, following a vigorous campaign by Jack’s nephew Lem Motlow, that the distillery returned to its historic site in Lynchburg. However, production was again interrupted during World War II, from 1942 to 1946.

Lem Motlow of Jack Daniels DistilleryLem Motlow of Jack Daniels Distillery

After the war, the Jack Daniels distillery TN emerged stronger under the ownership of Lem Motlow, who had inherited it from Jack. Motlow navigated the brand through challenging times, significantly contributing to its revival. Upon his death, the distillery passed to his children, who later sold it to the Brown-Forman Corporation in 1956.

Today, Jack Daniel’s Black Label, or Old No. 7, stands as the flagship product of Brown-Forman, selling over 20 million cases a year, and is exported to over 170 countries.  The Old No. 7 whiskey consistently ranks in the top five highest-sold spirits worldwide and is the #1 whiskey sold worldwide. Variations like Gentleman Jack, Tennessee Honey, Green Label, and Sinatra Select have extended the brand's reach.

Visitors to Jack Daniels Distillery

Each year, over 250,000 whiskey lovers make their way to the Jack Daniels Distillery, which is now listed on the National Register of Historic Places is located in the city of Lynchburg TN. Despite Moore County remaining a 'dry' county, visitors are treated to a rich tour of the barrelhouse, distillery, and rickyard. They can even purchase a commemorative bottle of whiskey from The White Rabbit Bottle Shop at the visitor’s center.

Jack Daniels Distillery TourJack Daniel Distillery Tour

The story of Jack Daniels Distillery TN is a testament to resilience, innovation, and the unyielding pursuit of quality. More than just a brand, Jack Daniel’s carries the legacy of its founder and a once-enslaved man who became an integral part of the American whiskey industry. Their spirits continue to flow through each bottle of Jack Daniel’s, offering a taste of history and an enduring legacy.

Make sure to go on a Jack Daniels Tour if you are in the area.

Have more questions about Jack Daniels?  Check out Questions Answered for Jack Daniels Distillery.

Other Interesting Historical Articles

  1. The Sunken History of Awalt: A Town Beneath Tims Ford Lake

  2. Hundred Oaks Castle - Winchester TN Piece of History

  3. Tullahoma Tennessee - a tapestry of history and progress

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