A news media release went out Tuesday saying a “big” announcement would be made Thursday about Lynchburg’s Jack Daniel Distillery.
It turned out to be a “mammoth” announcement that parent company Brown-Forman Corp. is planning a $103 million expansion at the facility.
Construction is to begin this fall on the addition of stills, barrel warehouses and related infrastructure to support the expanding operations, and will result in the creation of 94 new full-time positions over the next five years, officials said Thursday. Work is expected to be completed within the next two years.
“I want to thank the Jack Daniel Distillery for today’s announcement and their continued investment in the people of Lynchburg and Tennessee,” said Gov. Bill Haslam, who was among the dignitaries present for the 9:30 a.m. gathering at the Visitor Center.
“This company is an American brand but, more importantly, a Tennessee brand well recognized across the world, making it a global ambassador for our home state.
“Jack Daniel’s is one of our most historic exports, and it helps us in our efforts to bring new Tennessee products to the world marketplace.”
Bill Hagerty, Tennessee’s commissioner of Economic and Community Development, also was among the special guests.
“Jack Daniel’s is a well-respected brand that boasts a rich history filled with Tennessee tradition,” Hagerty said. “The substantial expansion set to occur in the upcoming years is tremendous for the community and underscores Tennessee’s Number 1 ranking for job growth in the Southeast. I appreciate the company’s continued investment in the state and the jobs created from today’s impressive announcement.”
The expansion will be located on distillery property in the Lynchburg area and tied to the same source of cave spring water.
“The demand for Jack Daniel’s Tennessee Whiskey worldwide speaks volumes for the craftsmanship and specialness of a spirit distilled from a small cave spring hollow in Tennessee,” said Jeff Arnett, the company’s master distiller.
“The expansion will help Jack Daniel’s continue to bring our distinctive, charcoal-mellowed whiskey to the world and to follow Mr. Jack’s belief when he said, ‘Every day we make it, we’ll make it the best we can.’”
“Lynchburg is proud to be home to America’s oldest distillery and a world class tourist destination,” said Metropolitan Lynchburg-Moore Mayor Sloan Stewart.
“As an outstanding corporate citizen, we’ve built a strong relationship over the years, and we appreciate all that Jack Daniel’s has done to give back to the community. We look forward to many years of continued success.”
John Bradley, Tennessee Valley Authority’s senior vice president of economic development, was also present at the ceremony.
“TVA and Duck River Electric Membership Corporation congratulate the Jack Daniel Distillery as it expands operations and warehousing capabilities,” he said.
“It is exciting to see existing companies prosper. We are pleased to be partners with the state of Tennessee and local leaders as they help existing business and industry invest and add jobs within their community.”
According to Arnett, Jack Daniel’s Tennessee Whiskey has grown volume for 21 consecutive years, underscoring the brand’s premium and iconic image. The Jack Daniel’s family of brands grew global net sales by nine percent in the last fiscal year.
This year, with the governor’s support, the Tennessee General Assembly passed legislation designating that any whiskey labeled as “Tennessee Whiskey” must be charcoal mellowed and produced in the state, in effect creating a new spirit category similar to Kentucky Bourbon.
Information from Brown-Forman said Jack Daniel’s Tennessee Whiskey has grown volume for 21 consecutive years, “underscoring the brand’s premium, iconic image and reinforcing Brown-Forman’s belief in its long-term appeal and sustained growth potential.
“The Jack Daniel’s family of brands grew global net sales by a strong 9 percent in the last fiscal year.”
Officially registered by the U.S. Government in 1866 and based in Lynchburg, the “Jack Daniel Distillery, Lem Motlow, proprietor,” is the oldest registered distillery in the United States and is on the National Register of Historic Places. Jack Daniel’s is known for the world-famous Jack Daniel’s Old No. 7 Tennessee Whiskey, Gentleman Jack Rare Tennessee Whiskey, Jack Daniel’s Single Barrel Tennessee Whiskey, Jack Daniel’s Tennessee Honey, Jack Daniel’s Ready-to-Drink Beverages and Jack Daniel’s Country Cocktails.
Brown-Foreman lists its brands to include Jack Daniel’s Tennessee Whiskey, Southern Comfort, Finlandia, Jack Daniel’s & Cola, Canadian Mist, Korbel, Gentleman Jack, el Jimador, Herradura, Sonoma-Cutrer, Chambord, New Mix, Tuaca, and Woodford Reserve.
Brown-Forman says its brands are supported by nearly 4,000 employees and sold in approximately 160 countries worldwide.
Jasper Newton “Jack” Daniel was a lifelong resident of Lynchburg and founder of the distillery. The recipe for his sour mash whiskey “was set down by him” and has been maintained for over 125 years.
When Jack Daniel’s health began to fail he turned the distillery over to his nephew Lem Motlow, who continued and improved upon the traditions established by his uncle.
Although the unique taste of Jack Daniel’s had long been characterized as a Tennessee Whiskey, it had throughout its life been officially listed by the U.S. Treasury Department as a bourbon, which classed it with Kentucky’s noted whiskey, according to information from the distillery’s website.
In 1944, Lem Motlow finally achieved the recognition sought for many years in Lynchburg. The United States Government issued a report to the company that stated:
“Your charcoal mellowing process produces characteristics unknown to bourbons, ryes, and other whiskeys and thus Jack Daniels is officially designated as a Tennessee Whiskey.”
For the promotionally minded Motlow, it was one of the best official documents that had ever graced the distillery’s doors. His second generation effort to save and perpetuate the company his uncle founded had become a resounding success. He had pulled it through a time when the nation’s best distillers had gone under and left behind a tradition that still continues to this day.
Although it never bore his name, except in fine print, Lem Motlow had kept alive the company the City of Lynchburg so relied on for not only economic survival, but a source of character unequaled anywhere.
Motlow remained a vital part of the company until his death on Sept. 1, 1947. Like his uncle before him, he was laid to rest in the Lynchburg Cemetery.
The 1904 World’s Fair in St. Louis marked the first time Jack Daniel’s Whiskey gained official world recognition.
When World War II began, the Jack Daniel’s Distillery went into war-time operations as did most companies in the state. The alcohol produced by the company was used as fuel in torpedoes.
In 1956, the Jack Daniel Distillery was sold to Brown Forman Beverage Worldwide Inc.
Website information says the company realized that the special formula of Jack Daniel’s included the people of Lynchburg as well as the product. The old adage “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it” resembled the working philosophy of Jack Daniel himself and the company has prospered.
The same year the company was purchased, they started a black and white advertising campaign featuring the people and town that have made Jack Daniel’s Whiskey a household word. The homespun images of Lynchburg began showing up in some of the nation’s classiest publications and was a remarkable success. It literally put the City of Lynchburg on the map of the world and continues today as the longest running advertising campaign in American history.
The Jack Daniel Distillery not only reigns in its own industry, but is also one of the most visited places in Tennessee. The distillery offers tours every 15 minutes and attracts over 250,000 a year to Lynchburg from around the world.
The distillery location is the only place in Lynchburg where you can purchase Jack Daniel’s Whiskey, but only the commemorative bottles the company has issued. After 136 years of being home to the world’s most recognized distillery, the City of Lynchburg is still officially “dry.” The hardest drink available at the lavish bar at the end of the tour is lemonade.