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Welcome to Amazing Tap Handles - The Tap Handle Museum. Here you will find photos of the Museum's collection of beer taps, along with brewery info. Have a look around the Museum, and use the contact form in sidebar to leave me feedback about the site, talk about taps, or if you have a rare tap handle you'd like to sell to the Museum. I'd love to hear from you! Please, no inquires about buying taps - they're not for sale.

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Wednesday, December 30, 2015

Tap Handle #554: Jack Daniel's Distillery - Old No. 7 Black Label Tennessee Whiskey Bottle

Tap size:  8.75"
Rarity:  Scarce
Mounting:  internal 3/8" nut

As I've stated in the past, although the primary focus of this site is beer taps, I will occasionally acquire taps representing spirits or root beer. Although I'd like to have a tap from the short-lived Jack Daniel's Brewery, this tap from their Distillery is a nice consolation. I really like taps that resemble bottles or glasses and look as if they have alcohol in them. This actually has the appearance of a real Jack Daniel's whiskey bottle, although it is acrylic rather than glass. If there's one nitpick I have, it's that the back is flat rather than being "full-figured" all the way around; otherwise it's a brilliant tap. Jack Daniel's is not available on tap at bars and restaurants, nor is it available in the distillery, which lies in a county that still practices prohibition. Instead these taps were made as promotional pieces for their tasting room that lies in the next county, and are incredibly rare. For a brief period they were available on the secondary market (at high prices) when a tap manufacturer's old stock was liquidated; since then, no others have appeared.

Click through to read more about Jack Daniel's Distillery, their Old No. 7 Black Label Tennessee Whiskey, and to see more photos of this spirited tap...

Jack Daniel Distillery was founded in Lynchburg, Tennessee in 1866 by Jasper Newton "Jack" Daniel and Dan Call. Daniel's father had died in the Civil War, and despising his step-mother, he ran away from home and was essentially orphaned at a young age. Daniel was taken in by a local lay preacher and moonshine distiller named Dan Call, who had begun distilling in 1866, and Daniel began learning the distilling trade as a teenager from Call and Call's slave Nearest Green, who stayed on with Call after his emancipation. In 1875, on receiving an inheritance from his father's estate (following a long dispute with his siblings), Daniel founded a legally registered distilling business with Call. He took over the distillery shortly afterward when Call quit for religious reasons. In 1884 Daniel purchased the hollow and land where the distillery is now located.

By the 1880s, Jack Daniel's was one of 15 distilleries operating in Moore County, and the second-most productive behind Tom Eaton's Distillery. He began using square-shaped bottles in 1897, with the square shape of the bottle intended to convey a sense of fairness and integrity. The origin of the "Old No. 7" brand name is a popular topic  of conversatoin, as some people said it was the number of mistresses he kept; however, the accepted and less glamourous version states it was the number assigned to Daniel's distillery for government registration. He was forced to change the registration number when the federal government redrew the district and he became Number 16 in district 5 instead of No. 7 in district 4. However, he continued to use his original number as a brand name, since his brand reputation already had been established.

Jack Daniel's experienced a surge in popularity after the whiskey received the gold medal for the finest whiskey at the 1904 St. Louis World's Fair, although his local reputation was suffering as the temperance movement was gaining strength. Daniel never married and did not have any children. However, he took his nephews under his wing - one of whom was Lemuel "Lem" Motlow. Motlow, a son of Daniel's sister, Finetta, was skilled with numbers and was soon doing all of the distillery's bookkeeping. In 1907, due to failing health, Daniel gave the distillery to two of his nephews. Motlow soon bought out the other nephew. Tennessee passed a statewide prohibition law in 1910, effectively barring the legal distillation of Jack Daniel's within the state. Motlow challenged the law in a test case that eventually worked its way to the Tennessee Supreme Court. The court upheld the law as constitutional, however. Daniel died the next year in 1911 from blood poisoning.

Because of the prohibition in Tennessee, the company began distilling operations in St Louis, Missouri, and Birmingham, Alabama, though none of the production from these locations was ever sold due to quality problems. The Alabama operation was halted following a similar statewide prohibition law in that state, and the St. Louis operation was halted by the onset of nationwide Prohibition in 1920. In 1933 Prohibition was repealed at the federal level, but state prohibition laws (including Tennessee's) remained in effect, thus preventing the Lynchburg distillery from reopening. Motlow, who had become a Tennessee state senator, led efforts to repeal these laws, allowing production to restart in 1938.

The Jack Daniel's distillery ceased operations from 1942 to 1946 when the U.S. government banned the manufacture of whiskey due to a shortage of corn during World War II. Motlow resumed production of Jack Daniel's in 1947 after good-quality corn was again available. Motlow died later that same year. He bequeathed the distillery to his children, Robert, Reagor, Dan, Conner and Mary, upon his death. The company was later incorporated as "Jack Daniel Distillery, Lem Motlow, Prop., Inc." This has allowed the company to continue to include Motlow in its marketing. The company was sold to the Brown-Forman Corporation in 1956. The Jack Daniel's Distillery was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1972. Moore County, where the Jack Daniel's distillery is located, is one of the state's many dry counties. Therefore, while it is legal to distill the product within the county, it is illegal to purchase it there. However, a state law has provided one exception: a distillery may sell one commemorative product, regardless of county statutes.

Until 1987, Jack Daniel's black label was historically produced at 90 U.S. proof (45% alcohol by volume). However, in 1987 black label was reduced to 86 proof. A further dilution began in 2002 when all generally available Jack Daniel's products were reduced to 80 proof, lowering production costs and excise taxes. This reduction in alcohol content, which was done without any announcement, publicity or change of logo or packaging, was noticed and condemned by Modern Drunkard Magazine, and the magazine formed a petition drive for drinkers who disagreed with the change. The petition effort garnered some publicity and collected more than 13,000 signatures, but the company held firm with its decision. A few years later, Advertising Age said in 2005 that "virtually no one noticed" the change.

The product meets the regulatory criteria for classification as a straight bourbon, though the company disavows this classification and markets it simply as Tennessee whiskey rather than as Tennessee bourbon. This is thanks to an added step to the process involving sugar maple charcoal called the Lincoln County Process. During this process the raw distillate (called new make) gets filtered through sugar maple charcoal or seeped with sugar maple charcoal chips prior to aging. This is what gives most Tennessee whiskeys their unique flavor profile. A total of 11 million cases of the flagship "Black Label" product were sold in the company's fiscal year that ended on April 30, 2013. In the IWSR 2013 World Class Brands rankings of wine and spirits brands, Jack Daniel's was ranked third on the global level. In 2014, the brand evaluation consultancy Intangible Business ranked Jack Daniel's fourth on its global list of top wine and spirits brands. Besides Black Label, Jack Daniel's also produces Gentleman Jack, Tennessee Honey, Tennessee Fire, and Single Barrel varieties. There are also seasonal offerings like Jack Daniel's Winter Jack Tennessee Cider.

The Jack Daniel Distillery in Lynchburg is situated in and around a hollow known as "Stillhouse Hollow" or "Jack Daniel's Hollow", where a spring flows from a cave at the base of a limestone cliff. The limestone removes iron from the water, making it ideal for distilling whiskey (water heavy in iron gives whiskey a bad taste). The spring feeds into nearby East Fork Mulberry Creek, which is part of the Elk River watershed. Some 1.9 million barrels containing the aging whiskey are stored in several dozen barrel houses, some of which adorn the adjacent hilltops and are visible throughout Lynchburg. The distillery is a major tourist attraction, drawing more than a quarter of a million visitors annually. The visitor center, dedicated in 2000, contains memorabilia related to the distillery and a gift shop. Tours of the distillery are conducted several times per day.

Jack Daniel's Old No. 7 Black Label Tennessee Whiskey has a caramel color, and a strong astringent spice aroma with hints of oily charcoal, maple, brown sugar, wood, some soft sweet grains and overripe citrus. The taste starts with a strong medicinal caramel, followed by some charcoal and burnt toffee and notes of imitation vanilla, burnt cherry pie and a slight yeast. The finish is dry with the caramel fading to corn and oily wood. The aftertaste sticks around for quite a while giving it a very long finish. It is popular over ice or in three well-known cocktails: Jack & Coke, Lynchburg Lemonade, and Three Wise Men. Recommended food pairings are barbecued meats, in large part due to the sugar maple charcoal filtering. Jack Daniel's holds barbecue cook-off contests in recognition of this pairing.

The Whiskey Jug rating:  82/100

Jack Daniel's Distillery
182 Lynchburg Highway
Lynchburg, Tennessee 37352

Source Material
Jack Daniel's website

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