Born in Lynchburg, Tennessee sometime in September (recorded as the 5th) possibly in the year 1850, or maybe 1846, depending on the source, Jasper Newton “Jack” Daniel was one of 13 kids born to Calaway and Lucinda Daniel.
Becoming a legend
As a young boy, Jack left home and went to live with a family friend, Lutheran minister Dan Call. Call also ran a local store and had a stillhouse on his property right outside of Lynchburg. It was through Call that Jack learned the art of distilling whiskey.
In 1863, after receiving pressure from his wife and congregation to decide between his ministry and the distillery, Call decided to devote his life to the church and sold the distillery to Jack. In 1866 Jack registered the distillery, making it the oldest register distillery in the US, as it is so clearly stated on every bottle of Old No. 7.
Old No. 7
The stories of how Jack Daniels came to be labeled Old No. 7 are vast and include everything from lucky number 7, to the barrel shipping number, to the possibility that it was the seventh recipe. The world will never know, he took that secret to the grave.
A family business
Daniel never married, although he is rumored to have had seven girlfriends (not sure if this was at the same time or throughout his life). Because he had no children, he took his nephew, Lem Motlow as his apprentice, teaching him the ins and outs of the whiskey industry.
An accident leads to death
While it was clear that Motlow would take over the distillery eventually, Jack stayed in charge until his death in 1911. Known to forget the combination on his safe, he became angry one morning after not being able to remember it, and kicked the safe, breaking his toe. The break became infected and eventually led to blood poisoning, eventually leading to his death.
It’s hard to imagine what American whiskey would be without the contributions of Mr. Jack, but it’s safe to say it’s better off because of him.