That unmistakable bottle of Jack Daniel’s, with its instantly recognisable black label, has seen us through many a celebratory moment. While most of us, at some point, have enjoyed the ubiquitous JD and Coke or even a JD on the Rocks, few have stopped to think of the heritage behind this legacy American brand. As Jack Daniel’s celebrates 150 years of existence, the story behind this Tennessee whiskey is a fascinating one.
Way back in 1866, exactly 150 years ago, Jasper “Jack” Daniel had the foresight to place his distillery at a source of iron-free water flowing from a cave spring in Lynchburg, Tennessee. Today, the quiet town in Tennessee still produces every single drop of the world’s Jack Daniel’s, proof that mastering a craft with a focus on quality can propel a brand beyond borders and cultures.
At the Jack Daniel’s 150th anniversary celebrations, recently, UrbanEye caught up with Vineet Agrawal, Head of Marketing, Indian Subcontinent and Maldives, Brown-Forman Worldwide LLC, who is spearheading the whiskey brand’s operations in India.
After 150 years of existence, what does Jack Daniel’s represent today?
For over 150 years, Jack Daniel’s has been producing the finest whiskey for drinkers across the globe. It is our product and our story that have drawn people to this iconic liquid through two World Wars, an industrial revolution, a digital revolution and countless generations.
In today’s world it’s hard to know what’s genuine and what’s fake, what’s fly-by-night and what’s here to stay. The idea of being real or true has been pushed aside for a façade that wavers with every passing trend. That’s where Jack comes in. Jack Daniel’s is more than just a whiskey; it’s an attitude, a belief, a way of living. And while we may never know the name of that drinker next to us at the bar or across the room at a party, if he’s drinking Jack we know something about who he is. Jack is the badge that states you’re confident enough in yourself to maintain your standards, even when no one is looking.
How has it managed to stay relevant in today’s context?
In a world where change is a constant, it is an incredible achievement to be making whiskey in the same way, in the same place, for the past 150 years. It all boils down to consistently operating according to Mr. Jack’s motto – “Every day we make it, we’ll make it the best we can”.
What, then, makes it so special?
Jack Daniel’s Tennessee Whiskey still undergoes the same process of charcoal mellowing that sets it apart from bourbon. Every drop of Jack Daniel’s is slowly filtered through ten feet of hard sugar maple charcoal to give it a rare mellow smoothness. Jack Daniel’s whiskey is then matured in brand new American oak barrels crafted at its own cooperages. The barrel is key to crafting Jack Daniel’s Tennessee Whiskey as it accounts for 100 percent of its color and 70 to 80 percent of its flavor. We’re the only major distiller in the world which still makes our own barrels. Even today, through seven master distillers – Mr. Jack himself was the first one – our Tennessee Whiskey is still judged the same way that Jack Daniel himself did. By the way it looks. By the way it smells. And of course, by the way it tastes.
Tell me a little about the 150th anniversary celebrations? There is some sort of Barrel Hunt you’ve organised?
Every drop of Jack Daniel’s ever enjoyed was once inside a barrel handmade at the distillery. That means every story, every personal experience, and every instance of Jack Daniel’s in pop culture all started from the same source: the distillery and its barrels. In celebration of the 150th anniversary, we’ll feature these barrels in a global scavenger hunt where 150 of them will be hidden around the world. In searching for these barrels, both loyal and occasional drinkers from all over the world will have a way to participate in the distillery’s century and a half of influence.
The #Jacks150 activation gives us an engaging and fun way to celebrate the distillery’s 150th year and elevate a global conversation about Jack Daniel’s.
From July through September, 150 handcrafted whiskey barrels are being hidden in various regions across the globe at historic and cultural sites. The first Barrel Hunt took place at the home of the distillery in Lynchburg on July 1 and will visit more than 50 countries in 90 days. Each hidden barrel in the scavenger hunt has been handcrafted from the distillery and used to mature Jack Daniel’s Tennessee Whiskey.
Have you noticed any whiskey drinking trends all over the world and in India too? What are they?
American Whiskies are seeing a renaissance globally. Consumers choose American Whiskey for the taste, quality and the values that resonate with the category. The well-travelled Indian millennial consumers are not very different from their counterparts across this digitally connected world. As more and more Indians travel the world, they are seeking brands which are authentic and have a legacy of craftsmanship. The increasing cocktail culture, premiumisation of the retail environment and the lifestyle of consumers in India add promise to the future for the American whiskey category in India. Industry reports also suggest that American Whiskeys in India have been growing with a CAGR of more than 14% in the last decade, with Jack Daniel’s driving this growth. Jack Daniel’s Tennessee Whiskey is the highest selling premium whiskey in the world and we’re confident of replicating our global success here. We are very proud of the popularity that the brand enjoys among consumers in India, making it the most popular American whiskey brand in the country.
Jack Daniels and Coke is an all-time classic. Is there any other way you would recommend one drink it?
Jack Daniel’s is a versatile and easily mixable drink and Jack and Cola is one of the most popular bar calls amongst new consumers. It also allows the bar tenders to experiment with different cocktails using Jack Daniel’s as the base.
Here are the recipes of two of the most popular cocktails with Jack Daniel’s:
1. JACK’S OLD FASHIONED NO. 7
60 ml Jack Daniel’s Old No. 7
1 sugar cube muddled with 1 teaspoon water
2 dashes cocktail bitters
Garnish with an orange peel
2. JACK’S LYNCHBURG LEMONADE®
1 part Jack Daniel’s Old No. 7
1 part triple sec
1 part sour mix
4 parts lemon-lime soda
Combine and stir. Garnish with a lemon slice and cherry.