Jasper Newton “Jack” Daniel was only ten when he learned how to run a whiskey still. It was the 1850s, and young Jack was working for Dan Call, a minister and storekeeper in his hometown of Lynchburg, Tennessee. Story goes, Call and one of his slaves, Nathan “Nearest” Green, taught the boy how to craft the charcoal-mellowed hooch that would one day make him famous: Jack Daniel’s Old No. 7. The sweet-but-oaky spirit became the signature of Daniel’s namesake distillery, which in 1866 became the first registered business of its kind in America. Today, nearly 300,000 visitors a year travel there to sip and see the magic behind the making of their favorite spirit.
- The Lynchburg whiskey haven is actually located in a dry county, but fear not: Tennessee passed a state law allowing tastings during tours, and the distillery sells “commemorative” bottles of whiskey at its gift shop.
- If you want to buy a barrel of Jack (equivalent to 240 750-milliliter bottles), it will set you back more than $10,000. The U.S. military purchases more barrels than any other buyer.
- The popular whiskey-cola combination “Jack and Coke” dates back to 1907, when soldiers were recorded drinking “Coca-Cola highballs.” Creative iterations of the cocktail can be ordered at bars throughout the South: In Nashville, the Stillery’s “Jack float” mixes cola, moonshine, and Jack Daniel’s; Atlantans cool down with Jack-and-Coke slushies at Victory Sandwich Bar.
- Oxford, Mississippi, native William Faulkner nursed his family’s ailments with a homemade hot toddy. His recipe called for half a tumbler of whiskey: Jack Daniel’s for him, and the cheaper Heavenly Hill bourbon for everyone else.
- Arguably Jack Daniel’s most famous fan, Frank Sinatra was known to drink a bottle of the Tennessee whiskey a day. The crooner literally took his love for the “nectar of the gods” to his grave, as he was buried with a bottle of Jack in 1998.
- Since 1989, more than 100 barbecue teams have racked up accolades hoping to compete in the Jack Daniel’s World Championship Invitational Barbecue. A blind drawing narrows competitors in August, and in October, more than 30,000 spectators gather in Lynchburg to watch world-renowned pit masters face off. This year’s event takes place October 27–28.