You have heard of Tennessee whiskey, but what makes whiskey Tennessee whiskey? Lawmakers passed a law last year that said that distilleries that planned to market their whiskey as Tennessee whiskey must follow strict guidelines. Not only must the whiskey be made in the state of Tennessee, it also has to contain at least 51% corn, be filtered through maple charcoal and aged in new, charred oak barrels. It also has to be bottled at a minimum of 80 proof.
While the number one Tennessee whiskey maker Jack Daniel’s is happy with the new law, many other distilleries are not. Jack Daniel’s urged the lawmakers to create the law, but other distilleries say that it is causing them to change their recipes to make their whiskey more like Jack Daniel’s. Another problem with the law is the fact that charred oak barrels are hard to come by. Still, Jack Daniel’s makers believe that the law is the best thing for the state of Tennessee and the whiskey industry.
“It’s really more to weaken a title on a label that we’ve worked very hard for,” said Jeff Arnett, the master distiller at the Jack Daniel’s distillery in Lynchburg, Tenn. “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.”
Other whiskey distilleries insist that there are many ways to make whiskey and that they can make good quality whiskey without copying Jack Daniel’s methods. They don’t understand why the law favors the Jack Daniel’s methods.
Whiskey makers who are making their whiskey in Tennessee but are not following the guidelines necessary to call it Tennessee whiskey can still use Tennessee in the name of their whiskey, but must label it as whiskey from Tennessee or whiskey made in Tennessee.
Jack Daniel’s makers believe that the new law will help make the entire whiskey industry more innovative and create new and better flavors from all distilleries.
Do you think the law is fair or does it favor Jack Daniel’s whiskey?
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