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Issue 57 - The name game

Whisky Magazine Issue 57
July 2006


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The name game

The names of many American whiskey pioneers are still with us today on the labels they started. Charles K. Cowdery here looks at the men behind the labels and on pages 24 and 25 considers how other brands were named

In the United States, whiskeys were among the first branded products to be advertised and sold nationally, and they pioneered many of the mass marketing techniques we take for granted today.

Often these brands were named for the distillery's owner. So successful were these that many later brands were named in honour of historical personages. As well, a few were named after people invented just for that purpose, but we won't mention them here. All of people who follow are real.

Jack Daniel's Tennessee Whiskey
Where else to start, right? Jasper Newton ‘Jack' Daniel was born on September 5, 1846, or thereabouts. In recent years, revisionists have attacked many hallowed parts of his official story, but Jack definitely was a real person who made and sold whiskey in southern Tennessee in the late 19th and early 20th century.

One key to Jack's success was his premonitory understanding of branding. He cultivated a distinctive image for himself, very similar to that of the much later Kentucky Fried Chicken king, Colonel Harlan Sanders. When in public, Jack always wore a knee-length frock coat, colourful vest and a wide-brimmed planter's hat, and he had an elaborate moustache and goatee.

Completing the effect was his unusually small stature; just 5 foot, 5 inches tall and 120 pounds.

Jack never married and had no children so his sister's boy, Lem Motlow, took over the business and put his name on the label too, where it remains to this day. Motlow's four sons ushered Jack Danie...

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