Famously, Jack Daniels calls their core product line Tennessee Whiskey.
The legal requirements for a spirit to be called “Tennessee Whiskey” are for all intents and purposes identical to the legal requirements to be called Bourbon with two additional: it must be made and aged in the state of Tennessee and it must undergo the “Lincoln County Process” of filtration.
This filtration process involves running the finished spirit through charcoal made from sweet maple wood. All Tennessee Whiskies are Bourbons, but not vice-versa. Jack Daniels is the biggest selling Whiskey brand in the world. It jumped to super-stardom in the 1950s, when Frank Sinatra proclaimed it “Nectar of the Gods, baby!”
Some of the interesting production differences for Jack Daniels include; very dark “alligator” char barrels, 4-to 6-day drip filtration through ten feet of those hard sweet maple charcoal chips, and an important three-step cooking process for the different grains in the mash bill.
The result is a relatively sweet and smooth dram with dark caramel notes and a warm, agate color.
Jack Daniel's is a “Tennessee Whiskey” produced with a 4-to 6-day drip filtration process where the resultant Spirit is filtered through charcoal made from sweet maple wood, drop by drop. There’s also a crucial proprietary three-step cooking process for the different grains in the mash bill. The Whisky is emptied into alligator new charred oak barrels for maturing. This special process gives Jack Daniel's Tennessee Whiskey its rare smoothness.
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Jack Daniel’s Distillery is located in Moore County, Tennessee. But Moore County is a ”dry” county, which means that alcohol is illegal to sell retail. You can make it there and you can drink it there, but you cannot buy it.
Frank Sinatra was introduced to Jack Daniel’s by Jackie Gleeson, when Frank was looking for a “man’s drink.” He called it “The nectar of the Gods Baby” and is still closely associated with the brand to this day.
“Old No. 7” appears on every bottle of Jack Daniel’s Whiskey and refers to his original federal distiller’s registration number — “No. 7.” But when the government redistricted the area, they assigned him a new one — "No. 16." Jack liked the old number, so he used “Old No. 7” to differentiate from the “New No. 7.”
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The history of Jack Daniel’s Distillery is very interesting and often disputed. Even though the Whiskey labels and official history of the company list a founding date of “1866,” historians have proved that the distillery was registered and founded in 1875, financed by an inheritance that Jasper Newton “Jack” Daniel received that very year.
But prior to that he was working side-by-side with a moonshiner. Jack's early distilling days may have attributed to the mythological 1866 date. With the distillery located in Lynchburg, Tennessee, Jack Daniel’s is the top-selling brand of American Whiskey in the world.
Nearly 100 million bottles of the core “black label” bottles of Jack Daniel’s are produced and sold each year, with millions more sold across their range of products. Even though their Whiskey meets the legal definition of Bourbon, they adhere to the more stringent requirements.
They call themselves a “Tennessee” Whiskey and follow the so-called “Lincoln County Process” which includes filtering the finished distillate through sugar-maple charcoal prior to aging.
A transcript for non-audio situations
Today I'm in Lynchburg, Tennessee, and I'm at the Jack Daniel's Distillery, where we have the number one Jack Daniel's Tennessee Whiskey. We start off here in the nice creek, and behind me is the spring that supplies the water for the distillery. And that is very important because if you have bad water, then you will have bad Whiskey. And this water here is one of the best waters you could have for making Whiskey.
And here, we see the water for making the Jack Daniel's Whiskey. Jack Daniel's has the spring onsite, and it supplies enough water at a very cool temperature of about 12 to 13 degrees celsius. And you can see all the layers of the limestone, and that is very important. The limestone filters out the iron in the water, and iron in water is very bad for Whiskey production. If you have iron, you get a bitter Whiskey. Here we have very, very low iron content, so we have a Whiskey that is smooth and has no bitterness in it. So the water is very important. And now, let's continue with the production.
We continue with the mash bill. We have 80% corn, we have 12% barley, and 8% rye. All of the ingredients come from the northern American continent. Corn and barley are actually from the U.S., and the rye comes from parts of Canada. We have 12% malted barley. That is important because the malted barley has enzymes that break down the starch into sugar, and this is done naturally. Some companies add chemical enzymes into their grains to break down the starch into sugar, but Jack Daniel's relies on the natural enzymes inside their barley.
So here comes the grain. First, you take a sample from the corn or the grain and, after the sample, all the grain gets into the property of Jack Daniel's and gets stored in these silos. We have eight silos for corn, two silos for rye, and two silos for the malted barley.
So now we're here at the fermenting rooms. Jack Daniel's actually has 64 fermenters with a capacity of 40,000 gallons. That is a lot, but you have to supply the demand for this great Whiskey. And Jack Daniel's has its own yeast strain that is kept alive in the lab for generations now, and that is very important for the flavor of Jack Daniel's so it will be an original Jack Daniel's. Here, the grain comes from the cooker, the yeast is added, and the fermentation process takes a few days until you have the finished Beer that goes into the column still.
So now we're in the still room. It's very loud in here because you have the steam going through the pipes at high speed, and that gives you a really high-pitched hissing noise. This is one of the column stills. They're all made of copper. And the copper is very important for catalyst reaction to make the Whiskey smoother. Here, we have the Beer line. That is the Beer line from the fermentation. And that is inserted at the top, and the steam comes from the bottom, heats it up, and splits the alcohol into the alcoholic vapor.
The alcohol at the top is the highest concentration, and that goes down into the doubler. A doubler is the second distillation, also with copper. And it comes back around through the condensers and goes through this [inaudible 00:04:42] here. And it's now white Whiskey, and that is now ready for the charcoal mellowing in the next step.
The Jack Daniel's charcoal is all made from regional, hard sugar maple. And the specialty about the Jack Daniel's charcoal mellowing is that they grind it down before they do the charcoal mellowing, so they increase the surface area and the Whiskey can react more with the charcoal and get even mellower.
Now the stack's burning, and it burns for a few hours, then the stack will collapse and we have a fresh, new charcoal. We have the charcoal mellowing, that's the very specialty that makes the Jack Daniel's unique. And here, we have a tank of the already grinded-down charcoal we saw earlier. And this is 10 feet of charcoal. That's about 3.3 meters. That is actually compressed so we have more charcoal. And now, the Whiskey is run down through the charcoal and the charcoal takes out some of the flavors of the Whiskey that are not wanted in the Jack Daniel's, and the final product will be mellower and, yeah, just a finer Whiskey that everybody likes about the Jack Daniel's brand.
The Jack Daniel's Distillery has multi-storey warehouses. This here is a three-storey warehouse, and it goes up to seven-storey warehouses with a lot of casks in them. It ranges from 7,000 to several thousand casks or barrels inside one warehouse. And the position in the warehouse is very determined for the Whiskey that is bottled afterwards.
Gentleman Jack and the Black Label have different positions in the warehouse where they come from. And also, very important is the labeling of the bottles...of the barrels. Here, we have Jack Daniel's Distillery, Lynchburg, Tennessee, and the date. Date is Year 2011. "F," stands for the sixth month. This is June and the 27th. So the cask has been filled at the 27th of June, 2011.
The filling of the warehouse is one special thing, because all the bungholes, the hole where the barrel is filled and emptied, has to be on top. That is very important because if you have it on the bottom then you have a lot of leakage. So here you see all the barrels in one line, and all the bungholes are on the top. So what they do is they know how long the rack is and they calculate it, they have special tables that actually measures by the clock. And so, you start at a certain position, roll it in, and then you finish in a position with a bunghole on top.
And here, we have our bottling line. And this bottling line is specially for the Single Barrel Select. Here, we have a few tanks that will be filled with a cask. And because we don't wet Whiskey from different casks, we have a different flavor profile in every single barrel. Below it, we have the carousel, and there the Whiskey is being filled into the bottle. Then, the Whiskey comes around this conveyor here and ends up in these two machines.
These two machines put in the cork and the label for the front. And after they are labeled and corked, we have the quality inspections that look for any impurities or any faults. They go down the conveyor into the last step. And the last step is the packaging, and then the bottles will be palletized for the international distribution.