Jack Daniel's is the highest-selling American whiskey and Johnnie Walker is the top-selling Scotch whisky in the world. Both brands are named after their founders (Jasper Newton "Jack" Daniel and John "Johnnie" Walker) and are among the Top 100 global brands, with Jack Daniel's at #78 and Johnnie Walker at #92.
Jasper Newton "Jack" Daniel founded the distillery in Lynchburg, Tennessee in 1866. In 1907, due to failing health, Jack Daniel gave the distillery to his nephew Lem Motlow. Tennessee passed a state-wide prohibition law in 1910. So Lem Motlow moved the distillery to St. Louis, Missouri and Birmingham, Alabama. But the new distilleries had quality problems. Production resumed in Lynchburg when in 1938 - 5 years after the federal prohibition laws were repealed - Tennessee state repealed their prohibition laws. Production of whiskey was banned again during World War II - from 1942 to 1946. Motlow resumed production in 1947 but died soon and passed the distillery on to his children, Robert, Reagor, Dan, Conner, and Mary. The Brown-Forman Corporation bought the distillery in 1956.
John "Johnnie" Walker started selling whisky in his grocer’s shop in Ayrshire, Scotland in 1820. The brand became popular, but after Walker's death in 1857 it was his son Alexander Walker and grandson Alexander Walker II who were largely responsible for establishing Johnnie Walker scotch as a popular brand. From 1906–1909 John’s grandsons George and Alexander II expanded the line and introduced the color names (Red Label, Black Label etc.). The company joined Distillers Company in 1925. Distillers was acquired by Guinness in 1986, and Guinness merged with Grand Metropolitan to form Diageo in 1997.
Branding and Label
The Jack Daniel's label was trademarked in the early 1960s. At that time Lynchburg had only 361 people; so that is the number still mentioned on the label. The slogan is "every day we make it, we’ll make it the best we can."
In 1908, the iconic Striding Man logo for Johnnie Walker was created with the slogan, "Born 1820 – Still going Strong!". The slogan has since been changed to "Keep Walking". The Johnnie Walker label is slanted and angled at 24 degree. It was so designed by Alexander Walker who thought that this would make it possible to have larger text on the label and make it stand out on the shelves.
Manufacturing Process and Blend
Tennessee whiskey is made from at least 51% corn; it is filtered through maple charcoal in large wooden vats before setting to age in new, charred oak barrels. This process imparts it a distinctive flavor. Traditionally Jack Daniel’s was bottled at 90 proof (45% alcohol by volume). In October 2004, it was announced that all generally-available Jack Daniel's products would be bottled at 80 proof. Video that explains how Jack Daniel's is manufactured.
Johnnie Walker offers several blends, identified by the Label color:
- Black Label - It is a blend of about 40 whiskies, each aged at least 12 years. 80 proof (40% ABV).
- Gold Label - a blend of over 15 single malts commonly bottled at 15 or 18 years. 80 proof (40% ABV).
- Green Label - a rich blend using only malts drawn from the four corners of Scotland –Each malt whisky is matured for a minimum of 15 years.
- Blue Label - Johnnie Walker's premium blend. Every bottle is serial numbered and sold in a silk-lined box, accompanied by a certificate of authenticity. There is no age declaration for Blue Label. 80 proof (40% ABV). It is one of the most expensive $200 a bottle.
- Red Label - a blend of around 35 grain and malt whiskies. It is intended for making mixed drinks. 80 proof (40% ABV). This was the favorite Scotch of Winston Churchill and is the favorite of former Vice President Dick Cheney.
- Red & Cola - a premix of Red Label and cola, sold in cans and bottles similar to beer.
- Johnnie Walker Swing – This bottle is shaped specially, allows it to rock back and forth.
Jack Daniel's sponsored the following racing teams:
- 2005 to 2009: Richard Childress Racing the number 07 car (numbered after the "Old No. 7") now driven by Casey Mears.
- 2006 to 2008: the Perkins Engineering team in the Australian V8 Supercar series.
- From 2009 their sponsorship moved to the newly formed Kelly Racing team, formed from the remnants of Perkins Engineering and now defunct HSV Dealer Team.
Johnnie Walker is a sponsor of the following events:
- The Johnnie Walker Classic, an Asia-Pacific golf tournament
- The Johnnie Walker Championship at Gleneagles, a golf tournament in Scotland
- The McLaren-Mercedes F1 team.
- The Ashes, a cricket series between Australia and England
- The New York Yankees baseball team