Dear God! Has Jack Daniel’s Lied to Me?

When you take the tour of the Jack Daniel’s distillery, the tour guide makes a big deal about how federal law dictates that only they can call themselves (well, they and George Dickel, I’d guess) Tennessee Whiskey (with an e).

When you read the cute little book on Mint Juleps you acquire while in Kentucky, it makes a similar claim about what kinds of fermented liquors are allowed to call themselves bourbon: that there’s a federal statute.

So, I thought it’d be funny to read the statute responsible for directing distillers about the correct terms for their products (well, funny interesting, not funny haha) and so, during lunch, off I go through the U.S. Code.

But, I can’t find it. So, dear friends with law degrees–Legal Eagle, Super Genius, etc.–or bootleggers and moonshiners, can you point me in the right direction?


11 thoughts on “Dear God! Has Jack Daniel’s Lied to Me?

  1. “So, I thought it’d be funny to read the statute responsible for directing distillers about the correct terms for their products”

    Dearest Aunt B, please seek the mental help you so desparately need. :) Oh, I’m just kidding. Maybe. No, I am.

    If I have time I’ll let you know what I can find.

    Currently doing three things at once while my mind is elsewhere – SuperGenius

    P.S. Do they not have the most awesome lemonade in the world at the end of that tour? Which makes up for no free samples and smelling the stanky vat of mash or whatever it was. Not stinky, this was stanky. There’s a differenc.

  2. I thought, maybe, confessing that I read statutes for fun at lunch would be indicating more about my inherent nerdiness than I intended, but, what can you do?

    We had that lemonade at Thanksgiving. It’s like three dollars a packet and you have to have a two gallon something or other to whoop it up in, but it’s so good.

    I wonder if you can buy it online. The secret seems to be, as it is in all Southern recipies that don’t rely on pork, lots of sugar.

  3. You can go to

    and get the full us code, its unlikely that the single book you looked at today had the full code, in that it currently is over 50 volumes, I took a quick look and couldn’t find the statute in question, but if you are a little more diligent than I, you may be able to find it.

    If its not there, it may be in the Code of Federal Regulations, which is also available online at

    Unfortunately, for me to access our westlaw or lexis-nexis, I would have to charge you and the rates are pretty steep

    Otherwise, if you prefer to do your research the old fashioned way, your employer has a lawschool, which presumably has a law library and law librarians, who are much friendly than you might expect, and they can help you out.

    Sorry I couldn’t just give you the answer, but if you give a man a fish, you feed him for a day, teach him how to fish you feed him for life.


  4. Oh, dear Legal Eagle, I thought the halmark of a good lawyer was attention to detail. Have you not observed my confessions of nerdiness and of hermitism? Of course, I didn’t leave my office at lunch; I was eating PBJ and browsing Cornell’s site.

    But I didn’t know about the other site and, happily, within seconds, I’ve been able to find all kinds of great information about distilled spirits.

    As for law librarians, I find them scary, especially when drunk on said distilled spirits. Let’s not rile them up, especially now that they’ve suggested I need mental help.

    Thanks, though. I’m happy to be able to expand my arm-chair lawyering to include both copyright and distilled spirits, as well as the criminal law I’ve picked up over the years from Jack McCoy.

  5. I have lexis-nexis – stop on by and we can be nerds together.

    The Sheik is looking at his schedule and might come down for egg coloring again. Maybe that Saturday we could all go on another tour, challenge the guides to a legal code trivia contest, and pick up more lemonade mix.

  6. Well, shit, if you have Lexis-nexis, I probably have lexis-nexis…

    Touring Jack Daniel’s with the Sheik… why do I get the feeling that’d be like Old Home Week for him?

  7. Come to think of it, Jack Daniel’s lying to you would not be that strange. It has lied to me many times. Usually it lies to me by saying that I could have one more.


    P.S. If it ever tells you that you could make wine or, alternately, a delicious and tasty mixed drink by mixing it with grape juice, well, then the lying is quite obvious.

    P.P.S. That lemonade would never lie. Never.

  8. You know what’s a little sad? You haven’t heard from any bootleggers and moonshiners on this. Sure, it is probably hard to get internet access out at your still in the woods, but it would be interesting.

    Humming Tear my stillhouse down – SuperGenius

  9. The SuperGenuis reminded me that mixing Jack and lemonade is also not a good idea. I figured that if they made both in Lynchberg, then I could combine them. Of course, I was a dumb, drunk 19 year old at the time who had not yet acquired the taste and stamina to drink Jack neat.

    Besides the possibility of the Sheik coming down, the day before Easter is, I think, the Libertine’s birthday. That might be like going home for him too. We could all protest the new 80 proof receipe together.

  10. If we show up there with your brother and the Libertine, I bet that at the end of the tour, we’ll end up in some secret room with a shrine to the two of them and the Super Genius.

    If all three of them converge, I bet we get the keys to Lynchburg!

    Good fun.

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