Jasper Newton Daniel was born around 1848, at least that’s what some people say. Fact is, we don’t know the exact date of his birth, but we know it was sometime in September and today friends and fans around the globe celebrate the world’s most famous distiller for the whole month.

Known to his friends simply as “Jack”, he was a fiercely independent individual throughout his life. We’re not certain why from an early age Jack was so intent on making his own way, but like most mysteries in a small town like Lynchburg, folks have their opinions on the matter. Some say it was because he was a small man, he was around five feet two, and that he set out in life to increase his stature in the eyes of all who knew him.  Others say his powerful independence was born of his mother’s death, who sadly passed away when he was just a baby.

Whatever the cause, Jack left home at a very young age, somewhere between his sixth and ninth birthday, to make his own way in life. He finally settled with the family of a local minister by the name of Dan Call.  Along with preaching, Dan Call ran a farm, the local general store and a small distilling operation he’d inherited.  Jack learned all the intricacies of making old-time sour mash whiskey from Dan and an enslaved man named Nathan “Nearest” Green. Most of that mentoring, however, fell to Nearest who worked side by side with Jack and taught the young distiller what would become his life’s passion. From mixing the mash, to tending the still and imparting the extra blessing to the whiskey when it was mellowed drop-by- drop through sugar maple charcoal for smooth sippin’.

What drew Jack to whiskey making is another mystery. Some speculate that the quiet work tucked away in the little hollow suited his solitary spirit.  Or it might be that the pleasure of making something by his own hand was a way for young Jack to feel that he was also making something of himself. All we know is that making whiskey became Jack’s great passion in life and ultimately his life’s work. Jack was so enamored with whiskey, that in 1866 when he was between the age of 13 and 16, his passion was realised when he registered The Jack Daniel Distillery, which is the oldest registered distillery in America, quickly setting himself and his whiskey apart from the others.

By 1896, the gentleman Distiller had caught the attention of the Nashville American newspaper, which wrote: “His (Jack’s) widely-known ‘No.7’ has attained more popularity than any brand of whiskey that has been put on the market in many years…” And so, the fiercely independent man who’d run away from home at such an early age had carried out what, perhaps, he’d longed for his whole life. He’d made a place for himself in the world, and continues to do so when people ask for his whiskey by name.

Happy Birthday, Mr. Jack!