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Issue 12 - Happy Birthday Mr Daniel

Whisky Magazine Issue 12
November 2000


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Happy Birthday Mr Daniel

Over 6 million of Jack Daniel's Tennessee Whisky were sold last year. Stuart Maclean Ramsay takes a look at this phenomenon on the eve of the 150th birthday of the distillery's founder, Jack Daniel

To celebrate the 4th of July I left behind the fireworks of urban American independence for a fishing trip down the winding Deschutes River in the high desert of Central Oregon. My companions were a Scottish nephew who was visiting America for the first time and several bottles from the Jack Daniel family.

We would rise at an ungodly hour, fortify our morning coffee with a splash of Black Label and go in search of elusive trout. By dusk they had become more wary, thus necessitating a shot of twice-mellowed Gentleman Jack for the angler to become one with the fish. And when night time descended, we sat around the campfire under a sparkling blanket of desert sky with the scent of Ponderosa pine thick in the air - Jack Daniel's Single Barrel embellishing our yarns and enhancing our cigars. With a desert theatre of howling coyotes and shooting stars for a backdrop, I asked my nephew what he thought of Tennessee sipping whiskey. “Och,” said 18 year-old Sean, “me and my pals, the cool ones, drink Jack and Coke every weekend in Edinburgh.”

The square bottle (it doesn't roll around in a fishing boat or a car) of Jack Daniel's Tennessee Whiskey, with its old-fashioned black and white label, has become, over time, an American icon. A democratic spirit at ease with the yelps and hollers of rock music and traditional bluegrass as it is at a backyard barbecue or uptown bar. The best-selling premium spirit in the United States, Jack Daniel's flows smoothly across all ...

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