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Jack Is With Us in Spirits 

Cocktails Anyone?
by Sheila Swerling-Puritt

Spirit lovers owe a debt of gratitude to Jack Daniel. Jack established a distillery in Lynchburg, Tennessee, in the 1830s. In 1866, the Jack Daniel Distillery became the first registered establishment of its kind in the United States of America. The company is now owned by the Brown-Forman Corporation of Louisville Kentucky, who had the smarts to buy the business in 1956.

Today, Jack Daniel's is a household word. The distillery has become a Disneyland for spirit aficionados, hosting over 250,000 visitors each year. It's located in Lynchburg, Tennessee (population 361), some 70 miles southeast of Nashville, the country seat of Moore County and one of the few to remain "dry." Over a dozen years ago, after a wonderful educational tour of the distillery and, of course, a visit to the famous Miss Mary Bobo's Boarding House for a delicious Southern lunch, the Jack Daniel's Distillery inducted me into their Tennessee Squire Association.

Jack Daniel's Tennessee whiskey is made from corn, rye, barley malt and iron-free water from their own limestone cave spring.

The process of making Jack Daniel's is almost identical to their sipping cousin Bourbon, but this Tennessee whiskey alters the final process of the recipe by slowly filtering their product through 10 feet of hard sugar maple charcoal over a 4 to 6 day period. On the basis of that difference, the U.S. federal government officially acknowledged the difference between Bourbon and Tennessee whiskey in 1941, creating a new category for those whiskies that are charcoal mellowed.

For my personal taste, I have always found their best-selling premium spirit, Old No. 7 Black Label whiskey, a little too aggressive to drink neat. I'd leave that to bikers, rockers and young men drinking their way through their rites of passage. That said, I recently had the opportunity to taste a gentler Jack – Gentleman Jack, Rare Tennessee Whiskey (80 proof), crafted from a slightly different recipe. It is charcoal mellowed twice, once before and once after the aging process. This counters any overt tannic acidity picked up from the charred American white oak barrels, imparting an extra smoothness to the whiskey. Light amber in colour, this Tennessee whiskey is fruity (black currants and mandarin), laced with a vanilla flavour drawn from the barrels, and has a delicious sweet lingering finish. It's currently available in Canada, well priced at around $33.00

The coterie of Jack Daniel's products available share family traits but each offers its own individual tastes. Look for Jack Daniels's Single Barrel Tennessee Whiskey (94 proof), Jack Daniel's No. 7 Black Label Tennessee Whiskey (86 proof) and, of course, Jack Daniel's Old No. 7 Green Label Tennessee Whiskey (80 proof). The company also makes bottled Jack Daniel's-based pre-mixed county cocktails.

Today, I can tell you I am truly delighted to be squired by Gentleman Jack anywhere, anytime!

While Gentleman Jack is meant for sipping either neat or over a little ice or with a splash of branch water (water from a small branch draining into a larger creek), my preference for Jack Daniel's Black Label is either with ginger ale or in the following cocktail.

Blackberry Jack

  • 1 part Jack Daniel's Black Label
  • 2 parts Blackberry Brandy
  • 4 parts 7 UP or Sprite
  1. Pour the Jack Daniel's and Blackberry Brandy over ice in a highball glass.
  2. Mix well. Add pop.

Also check out July's KISS cocktail column for the Lynchburg lemonade recipe.


For more information, you can contact Sheila at




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