Liquor Tins – Jack Daniels

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Jack Daniel’s – American Made……

by  Jeannie Tucker

(first published in the TIN FAX August 1994)

    Before diving right into the history of Jack Daniel’s, I feel that a foreword is necessary. Usually Charlene (a TIN FAX contributor)goes to the public library and dives into the research material available. Then she or Icall the company and ask for information to be sent or faxed, which we blend intoCharlene’s research to come up with the company histories which we print every month (inthe TIN FAX). However, Charlene has been unable to find information in take library onJack Daniel’s so I called the company to ask them if they would send information. What Igot on the other end of the phone line was a delightful surprise. Roger Brashears took thetime to tell me all about Jack Daniel and the history of the distillery and answer all myquestions. I don’t take shorthand so my notes are a little sketchy, (I wish I had a tapeof Mr. Brashears; he was so interesting).

    Jack Daniel was 13 years old when he left homeand went to work for Dan Call in his country store. At that time, it was legal to makeyour own whiskey and sell it, and that is just what Dan Call did behind the little countrystore. Now Dan Call had another occupation besides running the store and making andselling whiskey. He was the local preacher.

    Three years later (September, 1863), there was arevival in Mr. Call’s church, and his wife and the congregation decided that Mr. Call hada decision to make – either preach or sell whiskey. He chose to preach and sold 16-yearold Jack Daniel the entire whiskey operation for $25.00. Jack Daniel bought out the earlydistillery and the property where the distillery is currently located.

    In 1911, the Jack Daniel Distillery was left toJack’s nephew, Lem Motlow (Editor’s Note – Jack died of blood poisoning resulting from himkicking his office safe, couldn’t remember the combination, and breaking his toe, withinfection setting in). Lem ran the company until 1947, but not without some legal twistsand turns. Tennessee went “dry” in 1910, just before he took over at the helmand then, as you all know, prohibition hit a little later causing real problems andforcing Mr. Motlow to find another way to make a living. During this period, he became avery successful mule trader. In fact he got very wealthy as a mule trader.

    However, after Prohibition, Lem Motlow was elected into public office, and went to work to try to change the liquor laws. One law hedid get changed was that liquor could again be made in Tennessee. However, it could not besold there so it was sold in Kentucky. When he died in1947, he passed the distillery tohis 4 sons. In 1956, his sons sold the company to Brown-Formanin Louisville and Jack Daniel’s is still part of the Brown Forman company today.

    Mr. Brashears went over some of the informationon the tins that I thought was interesting. He said that Jack Daniel’s packaged hiswhiskey in tins that were made in England. He (Mr. Brashears) receives phone calls frompeople who think they have a really old Jack Daniel’s tin and the first thing he he asksthem is, “Does it have a letter in it?” When they say “Yes it does,”Mr. Brashears knows that they have one of the newer tins put out in the last 30 years(Editor’s Note –  according to the official Jack Daniel web site, these”antique replicas” were first made in the early 1970’s, used for their”holiday packaging” around Christmas time ), because Jack Daniel never putletters in his tins.

    The tins we find today are pictured after theones that Jack Daniel had designed and are still being made in England. Some of the morerecent tins held whiskey, some were poker sets which held 2 decks of cards and a set ofpoker chips, and some of the smaller ones held miniature bottles of whiskey or a singledeck of cards. A Jack Daniel’s tin released around Christmas, 1992, held a bottle ofwhiskey and a brewer’s thermometer. Of course, all of the present-day Jack Daniel’s tinshave a letter inside describing the contents and telling a little about the distillery(Editor’s Note – some present-day tins may be missing this letter, so don’t be deceivedinto thinking that it may be much older.).

    I thought it was interesting that the BlackLabel whiskey was brought out by Lem Motlow after Jack Daniel’s death to symbolizemourning and was expected to last a year, but people liked the Black Label maturedwhiskey, so it was never discontinued.

    Which brings us to another interesting point, Ialways thought whiskey was aged. Mr. Brashears corrected me on this point – it is matured,not aged, with the matured whiskey being the Black Label. He explained the maturingprocess to me, and I’m going to repeat it with apologies to Mr. Brashears if I don’t getit straight. It is stored in wooden barrels and is a clear color when first out up. Thetemperature changes cause the wood to contract and expand, and the liquor seeps into thewood with the process, causing the liquor to turn a caramel color and also, causing thematuring process. Age has nothing to do with it, and, as I understand it, two barrels canbe put up the same day and one may be a green label and one a black label, depending onthe temperatures and the liquor’s interaction with the wood.

    Mr. Brashears suggested the Lynchburg Hardwareand General Store as a possible source for the Jack Daniel’s tins, although they are soldempty since Lynchburg, Tennessee is a “dry” county. Call 615-759-4200 forinformation.

    Jack Daniel’s distillery offers a tour of thefacilities, and if you happen to make the trip, ask to see Mr. Brashears. His office isright above where the tour starts. Or, if you have a question about a Jack Daniel’s tin inyour collection, he has asked that you call him on his direct phone line, 1-615-759-6180and he will try to help figure out what came in it and even let you know what year it wasdistributed. However, if you do call Mr. Brashears, prepare to meet a charming man, fullof Jack Daniel’s trivia (been with the company 31 years), and I think he enjoys tellingall the Jack Daniel’s stories as much as you will enjoy hearing them.

(Editor’s Note: Jeannie’s article goes on about the three differentletters she has found, “Why I box my goods in tin”, “On putting trust in YOURNOSE“, and the third was found in a card tin, “As any TRUE PROFESSIONAL…   I’ll let you collectors discover what the letters read.)

Click for Gentleman Jack’s home pageor Singlebarrel pages.

The Unofficial Jack Daniel’s Commemorative Decanter Web page

Check out Brown-FormanHistory

Search for Jack Daniel items on eBay  SearchActive Items  SearchCompleted Items


 The Jack Daniels Tribute Site–  Collectable Jack Daniels bottles and related items



Some other Jack Daniel collectibles


JACK DANIEL’S DECANTER 13in. tall., decal and on the back is a sticker thattells who the taster and master distiller was. Comes with a nice booklet that tells aboutMAXWELL HOUSE, THE HOTEL IN NASHVILLE TEN

An 1980 Jack Daniel’s Etched glass Decanter/with top. It stands approx. 13″tall and a six flower petal type of pattern swooping down the decanter.

Jack Daniels Box with 8 Pictures and newspaper. The box measures 26″L x 131/2″W x 17 3/8″H.. This box is made of plywood stained to specification. HasJack Daniels Logo on the front, Lynchburg, Tenn. The picture captions are as follows 1)TheJack Daniel Distillery located in the foothills of the Cumberland Mountains at Lynchburg,Tenn. 2)Cutting down a hard maple growing on high ground. It will be sawed up andrick-burned in the open air for charcoal to smooth out our whiskey. 3)Jack Daniel’slimestone spring that comes from deep inside a cave. It runs year-round at 56 degrees, andmost important, it’s virtually iron-free. 4)Each batch of Jack Daniel’s is tested to makesure it has been properly gentled by our Charcoal Mellowing process. 5)ack Daniel’s deskin his office that still stands near our limestone spring. 6) After charcoal mellowing,Jack Daniel’s is taken to the warehouse to be aged until it has reached full maturity.7)Charcoal is packed in room-high vats. Jack Daniel’s whiskey then seeps through drop bydrop. 8)Statue of Jack Daniel which stands in front of the cave and our limestone spring.Old office is at the right. The old newspaper also comes with. Its a repo of the oldertimes?. Dated November 25th 1892. The Lynchburg Falcon.


Jack Daniel’s Legacy – If you love JackDaniel’s you will have to like this book it has a copyright date of 1967 and in newcondition. The book tells about the life, and some genealogy of the Daniel family. Storiesabout his young life, and the formation of the oldest registered distillery in America.PICTURES TOO!!

Jack Daniel’s Lighter. On face of lighter in white lettering says Jacksare better, with four aces, [ two red and two black ] below aces in white lettering isJack Daniel’s logo.