HomeJack Daniel's is not a bourbon

Jack Daniel's is not a bourbon, it is a Tennessee whisky

That is correct, Jack Daniel's whisky is not, technically, a bourbon. It uses many of the same methods of production and according to the technical definitions, it could qualify as a bourbon. But the founder of the Jack Daniel's Distillery, and the man who lent his name to one of the most famous whiskies in the world, Jack Daniel, was too canny a business man to let his whisky be classed with all the others.

For a whisky to be called a bourbon it must meet a number of requirements. This includes the ingredients, alcohol strength and aging process. Jack Daniel's meets all these requirements.

At the time Jack Daniel was building the Jack Daniel's company and brand, the term bourbon referred to a drink from a place - Bourbon, Kentucky. Jack Daniel was doing things differently though.

Firstly, he was making his whisky in Lynchberg, Tennessee, not Bourbon, Kentucky. More importantly, he was making his whisky differently.

Jack Daniel charcoal mellowed his whisky before putting it into barrels for aging. This process involves dripping the whisky through 10-feet of sugar maple charcoal. The resulting whisky had a distinctive taste and smoothness and the Jack Daniel's Distillery wanted it recognised as such.

To that end it had the US government recognise the Lincoln County Process - a process of filtering whisky through charcoal chips before aging.

This happened in 1944, long after Jack Daniel had died. The Distillery was being run by his nephew, Lem Motlow, who got the following recognition from the US government in relation to Jack Daniel's whisky:

"Your charcoal mellowing process produces characteristics unknown to bourbons, ryes and other whiskeys and thus Jack Daniel's is officially designated as a Tennessee Whiskey."

So why is Jack Daniel's on a site called Bourbon Whisky? For us, the designation of Jack Daniel's is a technicality. Firstly it is an American whisky but it is also made like a bourbon, tastes like a bourbon, and, for many people, is regarded a bourbon. That is good enough for us.


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