Well first off, his name was actually Jasper Newton “Jack” Daniel, with no ‘s’ at the end. The whiskey which carries his name makes it clear your drinking his whiskey, rather than the bottle adorning his name a la Jim Beam or Johnnie Walker.
Born in either 1846 or 1850 in Lynchburg, Tennessee, Jack was the tenth child of thirteen children. His mother died when he was two, and when his father re-married Jack became neglected by his parents. So much so, that he ran away, and was then taken in by one Reverand Dan Call. The good reverend happened to own a still run by a slave by the name of Nearest Green. Jack was more than happy to learn how to operate the still and Nearest apparently obliged. Jack was making whiskey at the age of nine.
By the age of sixteen he owned his own distillery (purchased from Reverand Call), and made a fair amount of money with it by selling his whiskey to both Union and Confederate Troops.
When the Civil War ended, the federal government was short on cash and decided to tax distilleries. While many distilleries refused to pay such taxes, Jack Daniels was the first to sign up, making Jack Daniels the oldest registered liquor operation here in the United States.
Jack’s whiskey had a reputation for high quality. So high in fact, that his name still carried weight thirty-three years after his death in 1905. The initial distillery closed in 1909, thanks to Tennessee prohibition. It wasn’t until 1938 that the distillery would re-open, run by Jack’s nephew Lem Motlow. Lem moved the earth to restart his uncle’s Whiskey business. He even ran and was elected to the Tennessee state senate, which allowed him to create a law which would permit him to make whiskey in Lynchburg, even if he couldn’t sell it there. To this day, Moore county, home to Jack Daniel’s whiskey, is a dry county.
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