Jack Daniel’s fighting push to weaken standards of Tennessee whiskey

By Daniel S Levine,

A year ago, Tennessee lawmakers passed a law that said Tennessee whiskey had to be made a certain way, or it wasn’t real Tennessee whiskey. Now, politicians in Nashville are thinking of dialing back those restrictions, a move that Jack Daniel’s is fighting against.

The restrictions were almost the same as the rules Jack Daniel’s, the most famous Tennessee whiskey in the world, uses. According to the Associated Press, the restrictions said that the whiskey must be fermented in the state with a mash of at least 51 percent corn, then aged in oak barrels and filtered through maple charcoal. It’s it’s not also bottled at 80 proof, it’s not real Tennessee whiskey.

Lawmakers are rethinking the law, noting that it makes other companies - like Jack Daniel’s main competitor, Diageo PLC’s George Dickel - harder for them to make Tennessee whiskey. Jack Daniel’s is obviously opposed to the new law, saying that the state should be protective of the way Tennessee whiskey is made.

“It's really more to weaken a title on a label that we've worked very hard for,” Jack Daniel’s master distiller Jeff Arnett told the AP. “As a state, I don't think Tennessee should be bashful about being protective of Tennessee whiskey over say bourbon or scotch or any of the other products that we compete with.”

Time notes that the major change is allowing whiskey makers to re-use barrels. This would cut costs significantly, since it can cost up to $600 for one barrel needed for Tennessee whiskey.

“There are a lot of ways to make high-quality whiskey, even if it's not necessarily the way Jack Daniel's does it,” Republican state Rep. Bill Sanderson explained. “What gives them the right to call theirs Tennessee whiskey, and not others?”

image courtesy of Wikimedia Commons

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