According to the Jack Daniel's web site, founder Jasper Newton "Jack" Daniel was born in September 1850, although seemingly no one knows the exact date because the birth records were destroyed in a courthouse fire. 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, of Welsh and Scottish descent.
Because 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 of the distillery's bookkeeping. In 1907, due to failing health, Jack Daniel gave the distillery to his nephew. Jack later died from blood poisoning from an infection in 1911.
The infection allegedly began in one of his toes, which Daniel injured early one morning at work by kicking his safe in anger when he could not get it open (he was said to always have had trouble remembering the combination). This incident was the subject of a marketing poster used on the London Underground in January 2006, with the line: "Moral: Never go to work early."
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 include Lem Motlow, who died in 1947, in their marketing, 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; changing the label would require applying for a new trademark or forfeiting trademark protection. However, the 361 figure is also used on their website, which has nothing to do with the old label trademark issue. It should be noted, however, that the census designation definition of the city of Lynchburg is the entire area of Moore County, as the county and city governments are consolidated; the actual built area of Lynchburg may still have a small population. Interestingly enough, Moore County, where the Jack Daniel's distillery is located, is one of the state's many dry counties. Therefore, while it is legal to distill the product within the county, it is illegal to purchase it there. However, a state law has provided one exception: a distillery may sell one commemorative product, regardless of county statutes.
Jack Daniel's now sells 'Gentleman Jack', and 'Jack Daniel's Single Barrel' at the distillery's White Rabbit Bottle Shop.
Tennessee ('sour mash') whiskey is similar to bourbon but is different in that it is filtered through sugar maple charcoal in large wooden vats prior to aging. Tennessee whiskey is also not subject to the regulations relating to bourbons (these regulations cover the use of new barrels and low level of distilling proof).
According to their web site, Jack Daniel’s Tennessee Whiskey is made using pure cave spring water from a hollow next to the distillery. This is generally believed to be the reason the distillery location was originally chosen and why it is still there today.
There is no confirmed reason as to why it is named as such. Many stories exist and the following is one:
According to Jimmy Bedford, current Master Distiller, years and years ago the company would ship all products by railroad. One shipment got lost in a railroad terminal and when the barrels were located they were ordered to be shipped down the track. A new shipping ticket was created and "Old" was written in front of the original shipping number, "No. 7". Requests then began coming in for more shipments of the "Old No. 7 on the ticket". The full title printed on the label reads: Jack Daniel's Old Time Old No.7 Brand Quality Tennessee Sour Mash Whiskey.
According to the official Jack Daniel's website, why Daniel named his whiskey "Old No. 7" remains a mystery, as no one had thought to ask him.