Jack Daniel hosts virtual music festival to benefit musicians affected by COVID-19

Alabama Shakes lead singer Brittany Howard (left), singer, songwiter Nathaniel Rateliff (top right), and California indie band Cold War Kids (bottom right) will headline Jack Daniel’s Distillery virtual music festival this Friday and Saturday to support musicians affected by COVID-19. {Photos Provided}

Our local product and live music have a storied history together. From Frank Sinatra’s professed love of Old No. 7 to the recent release of the limited edition Eric Church Single Barrel Bottle … where you find great music, you’ll usually find a bottle of Jack.

Live musicians like the ones we flock to see on Lower Broadway or at Bonnaroo … well, they are struggling. Festival cancellations and music venue closings have upended their livelihoods.

Enter Jack Daniel’s Distillery … together with Crash the Couch, they are raising funds for the Sweet Relief COVID-19 Musicians Fund. On this coming Friday and Saturday (August 14 and 15), Brittany Howard, Nathaniel Rateliff, and Cold War Kids will headline the two-day, online festival on Jack Daniel’s YouTube channel.

Denver-based singer, songwriter Rateliff and California indie rock band the Cold War Kids will headline Friday night along with opening acts like Tank and the Bangas, Hiss Golden Messenger, the Suffers, and Goldlink. Alabama Shakes lead vocalist Brittany Howard will headline night two along with Black Pumas, Brandy Clark, Houndmouth, Durand Jones, and Yola. All performances will be filmed from the artist’s homes all around the country. There performance will be interspersed with live cocktail demonstrations.

So login, make a donation, and raise a glass. •

{The Lynchburg Times is an independently owned, community newspaper that publishes new stories every morning. Covering Metro Moore County government, Jack Daniel’s Distillery, Nearest Green Distillery, Tims Ford State Park, Motlow State Community College, Moore County High School, Moore County Middle School, Lynchburg Elementary, Raider Sports, plus regional and state news.}

Distillery resumes tastings in Lynchburg

Master Distiller Jeff Arnett walks visitors through recognizing a whiskey’s color at a recent tasting. Tastings resumed at the distillery on July 27 but with limited capacity. {Photo Courtesy of Jack Daniel’s Distillery}

On Monday, via their corporate website, Jack Daniel’s Distillery’s Visitor’s Center announced that they planned to resume the Jack Daniel tasting experience effective immediately … but with some social distancing measures. The tasting experience is available seven days a week and will be limited to 10 individuals per tasting. Masks are required.

Miss Mary Bobo’s is now open from Monday through Saturday from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. Guests will dine at smaller tables and reservations are required. But you’ll still get amazing southern food with a side of local history.

The Visitor’s Center re-opened on July 1 for self-guided access. The White Rabbit Bottle Shop is also now open Thursday through Monday from 9 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. The lower level of Lyncburg Hardware & General Store is also re-opened with limited capacity and all customers are required to wear masks.

On March 16, Jack Daniel closed all tours due to COVID-19 concerns. Tours remain unavailable. For more information, call 888-551-5225 or visit their website by clicking here. •

{The Lynchburg Times is the only independently owned and operated newspaper in Lynchburg. We cover Metro Moore County government, Jack Daniel’s Distillery, Nearest Green Distillery, Tims Ford State Park, Motlow State Community College, Moore County High School, Moore County Middle School, Lynchburg Elementary, Raider Sports, plus regional and state news.}

New Motörhead biopic sure to feature Jack Daniel’s

{Editor’s Note: Since we are the unofficial whiskey capital of the South. Each #WhiskeyWednesday we bring you headlines from not only Jack Daniel’s Distillery but also other distilleries in both southern, middle Tennessee and around the state. Cheers!}

Lemmy of Motörhead poses with a bottle of local product for a publicity picture. Hollywood is working on a biopic of the iconic rockers life that’s sure to feature a bottle of Jack. {Photo Provided}

Product placement anyone? A film about an iconic rock star is coming to screens soon and it’s sure to feature his preferred whiskey … Jack Daniel’s.

Musician biopics are all the rage. First, we learned about Freddie Mercury and Queen in Bohemian Rhapsody and then Elton John’s life inspired Rocketman. Now, Ian “Lemmy” Kilmster and Motörhead are up next and of course, it will feature a scene with Lemmy drinking his fave cocktail, a Jack and Coke.

The film’s director, Greg Olliver, says he plans to use the myths surrounding Lemmy to tell his story and one of those involves his love of our local product. Reportedly one scene will involve Lemmy famously drinking Jack Daniel for breakfast.

The English singer, songwriter and bass player died on December 28, 2015 at age 70. His death happened just days after being diagnosed with cancer.

Lemmy so loved Jack Daniel that after his death their was a change.org petition that garnered nearly 50,000 signatures asking that the official name of a Jack and Coke be changed to the Lemmy. The distillery also loved his right back. In 2016, Jack Daniel’s introduced a special single-barrel whiskey in honor of Motörhead. It enjoyed an extremely limited 288 bottle run.

Oliver also directed the 2010 documentary titled, Lemmy. His new biopic is set to go into production next year, and no release date is yet set. The lead role is also yet to be cast. •

{The Lynchburg Times is the only independently owned and operated newspaper in Lynchburg. We cover Metro Moore County government, Jack Daniel’s Distillery, Nearest Green Distillery, Tims Ford State Park, Motlow State Community College, Moore County High School, Moore County Middle School, Lynchburg Elementary, Raider Sports, plus regional and state news.}

Jack re-opens Visitors Center but no tours yet

According to Jack Daniel’s officials, the Visitor Center, White Rabbit Bottle Shop, and Lynchburg Hardware and General Store have “soft” opened but the distillery isn’t yet offering tours or tastings. Miss Mary Bobo’s will also remain closed for now. {Photo Provided}

You may or may not have noticed this week that the Lynchburg Hardware and General Store on the square has re-opened with social distancing in mind. Signs are posted stating that folks should stand “two barrels apart” and that the maximum capacity for shoppers inside at one time is 20 people.

According to distillery officials, Jack Daniel’s plans to “soft open” some facilities but will not re-open to tours and tastings just yet. The Jack Daniel Visitor Center, White Rabbit Bottle Shop, and Lynchburg Hardware and General Store are all open to the public. Miss Mary Bobo’s Restaurant will remained closed until tours resume.

“Clearly, the health and safety of our employees and visitors is our primary concern.  There are a number of steps that have been taken to ensure a safe visit for our friends including limiting the number of people in the facilities at one time, increased sanitation efforts to meet and exceed safety guidelines, and other activities,” one official told us. •

{The Lynchburg Times is an independently owned and operated newspaper that publishes new stories every morning. Covering Metro Moore County government, Jack Daniel’s Distillery, Nearest Green Distillery, Tims Ford State Park, Motlow State Community College, Moore County High School, Moore County Middle School, Lynchburg Elementary, Raider Sports, plus regional and state news.}

Jack Daniel’s introduces cocktails in a can

{Editor’s Note: Since we are the unofficial whiskey capital of the South. Each #WhiskeyWednesday we bring you headlines from not only Jack Daniel Distillery but also other distilleries in both southern, middle Tennessee and around the state. Cheers!}

Jack Daniel’s newest offering canned cocktails sit on a hill overlooking Moore County. They became available on June 1 in select markets. {Photo Courtesy of Jack Daniel}

LYNCHBURG — It’s summer and time to head out to Tims Ford Lake or barbecue with close friends. Lots of Lynchburg folks like to imbibe a little local product every now and then. Jack Daniel’s Distillery’s newest offering, Jack Daniel’s Canned Cocktail, makes that convenient and easy.

They come in handcrafted cocktail varieties like Jack and Selzter, Jack and Cola, and Jack, Honey, and Lemonade. According to the distillery, each cocktail is made with Jack Daniel’s Tennessee Whiskey, perfectly mixed and ready to enjoy in convenient packaging. Jack and Cola and Jack, Honey and Lemonade are seven percent ABV, and Jack and Seltzer is five percent ABV with 0 carbs and 97 calories.

“We are always listening to our friends, and these new canned cocktails will be a convenient and refreshing way for them to enjoy our Tennessee Whiskey with a selection of wonderful flavors,” said Jack Daniel’s Flavors Brand Director Lisa Hunter. “Each drink is perfectly balanced to highlight the flavors of our charcoal-mellowed whiskey in a drinkable and convenient format. This is real Jack and it’s ready to go.”

They were released to only select states … including Tennessee, of course … on June 1. For more information, visit the Jack Daniel’s Distillery website. •

{The Lynchburg Times is the only independently owned and operated newspaper in Lynchburg. We cover Metro Moore County government, Jack Daniel’s Distillery, Nearest Green Distillery, Tims Ford State Park, Motlow State Community College, Moore County High School, Moore County Middle School, Lynchburg Elementary, Raider Sports, plus regional and state news.}

Metro Council rejects another attempt to revise barrel tax issue

They are built from scratch from American white oak then individually charred 20-25 seconds to give Jack Daniel’s Tennessee whiskey its distinct color and flavor. Ask any distiller and they’ll tell you, the barrel is a key ingredient in the Lynchburg whiskey-making process. And that barrel was once again the subject at a recent Metro Council meeting.

On Monday, council member Wayne Hawkins asked to be added to the agenda to seek approval for Moore County to initiate legal remedies against the State of Tennessee for the second time in less than six months. The issue? The language of what the local property assessor believe is 80 plus years of unpaid, whiskey barrel tax by Jack Daniel’s Distillery.

But first a little backstory

To understand the events of Monday night, you must first understand it’s genesis. All Metro offices are audited annually through the State Comptroller’s office at no cost to the county. It also pays third party auditors to conduct individual property tax audits … either randomly chosen or picked by the local assessor’s office.

From talking to multiple sources, the barrel tax issue all started with a third party auditor in 2017. That individual was the first to suggest that barrels were subject to property tax. Initially one individual within the State Comptroller’s office agreed by e-mail that the barrels were taxable, but even in that e-mail, the person said he had very limited knowledge of the whiskey and barrel manufacturing process.

Then, the state auditor’s office even went so far as to estimate that Jack Daniel owed Metro Moore $2.7 million in revenue from fiscal year 2017-18 that was “due but not yet collected” and buoyed by the exact number, the local office mailed Jack Daniel’s Distillery a bill … something they’ve done every year since.

Then in 2018, as the State Legislature considered the law that clarified that the barrels are exempt, the Comptroller’s office learned more about those facts and, ultimately, more senior members of the Comptroller’s office withdrew their support of the original auditor and Metro Assessor’s position.

A few weeks later, the Tennessee Legislature overwhelmingly approved a bill with some telling language. It allowed, “Tennessee whiskey barrels to remain exempt from property tax.” HB 2038 passed in the House of Representatives by a 78-12 margin and it’s companion bill SB 2076 passed unanimously in the Senate before heading to Governor Bill Haslam’s desk.

Hawkins makes detailed presentation

Hawkins made several assertion in his Power Point presentation:

Assertion #1: “Up until the early months of Lamar Alexander’s first term, Brown-Forman paid taxes on the barrels they purchased.”

Not true, said Metro Mayor Bonnie Lewis during open discussion.

“Never, ever has Jack Daniel’s paid a barrel tax to Moore County … ever,” she stated emphatically. “The 2018 law was nothing more than a clarification.”

It’s a fact confirmed by the Tennessee Distillers Guild who in 2018 told The Tennessean they polled the group’s membership and none have ever been accessed property tax on whiskey barrels. The Guild represents over 30 distilleries from Memphis to Knoxville and all points along the way including Jack Daniel’s Distillery in Lynchburg, George Dickel Distillery in Tullahoma, Prichard’s Distillery in Kelso, Short Mountain Distillery in Woodbury, Southern Pride Distillery in Fayettevile, and the Nearest Green Distillery in Shelbyville.

Assertion #2: “In concert with Brown-Forman’s management, the Alexander administration reclassified the barrels as manufacturing process equipment (or property), which is not subject to sales tax.

This is where the presentation gets a little muddy. Property tax and sales tax are two different things. The law Hawkins asked his fellow council members to sue the state over references barrels as the subject of property tax not sales tax.

Furthermore, Mayor Lewis confirmed with Jack Daniel’s Distillery that it does not pay sales tax on the barrels because it acquires or uses them under a “sale for resale” certificate, which is what any manufacturer uses when buying a component part of a product it manufactures and resells.

In a written statement to Mayor Lewis, the distillery stated, “In other words, for sales tax purposes, Jack Daniels treats the barrels and their parts as materials that will be manufactured into a final product sold to customer, which is consistent with the fact that the barrels are not subject to property tax because they are manufactured items.”

The exact language of the bill then State Representative David Alexander sponsored (HB 2038) is, “As enacted, specifies that aged whiskey barrels, during the time in which such barrels are owned or leased by a person that produces or manufactures whiskey in those barrels, are considered, and have always been considered, “articles manufactured from the produce of this state, or any other state of the union, in the hands of the manufacturer”, for purposes of exemption from property taxation.

“It’s an industry killer.”

Hawkins based his request, in part, on a 2017 Moore County audit that assumed “all equipment used in the manufacturing process has always been considered as property subject to property taxes in both Tennessee and Kentucky.”

In a 2014 interview with Whiskycast, Kentucky Distillers Association President Eric Gregory stated that, “Kentucky is the only place in the world that actually taxes barrels of aging spirit.”

And even Kentucky changed it’s mind. In April 2014, Kentucky Governor Steve Beshear rescinded its “barrel tax” calling it an “industry killer.”

It’s an opinion Metro Mayor Bonnie Lewis shares.

During Monday night’s meeting she told the council, “If you want to see to the impact of Jack Daniel in little Lynchburg come sit with me all day, every day since March,” she told the council. “It’s a ghost town. The people who have been allowed to open their businesses … it doesn’t matter. Because until Jack Daniel reopens, we’re Mulberry or Petersburg.”

{Editor’s Note: In March, Brown-Forman decided to suspend tours at the Lynchburg distillery in response to COVID-19. It remains shuttered today. Click here for that article.}

She also reminded the council that the “barrel tax” question was added to the ballot in 2012 and Moore County voters did not approve it. She also asserted that the 2012 barrel tax effort played a part in Brown-Forman shifting part of it’s barrel construction into Lincoln County.

“Drive south on Highway 55 and go into Fayetteville 37334, there’s where all your barrels are going. Those warehouses are built daily.”

She continued that moving forward with never-ending efforts to tax Jack Daniel barrels as property would make Fayetteville Mayor Bill Newman and Lincoln County taxpayers “very happy.”

In the end, the majority of council members agreed: John Taylor, Sunny Rae Moorehead, Meghan Bailey, Keith Moses, Houston Lindsay, Amy Cashion, Denning Harder, Arvis Bobo, and Gerald Burnett voted against approving money to pursue the barrel tax issue. Wayne Hawkins, Tommy Brown, and Gordan Millsaps voted in favor. David Boyce and Sandy Thomas were not present at the meeting. Attending remotely, Patrick Maynard lost connection prior to the vote. It failed 9-3.

When we reached out for comment, both of Moore County’s state legislators agreed with the council’s final decision.

“I would not support any any action to impose a barrel tax on our distillers,” Representative Iris Rudder told The Times. “You have to remember that any such tax wouldn’t just affect Jack Daniel. There would be lots of smaller distillers affected as well.”

State Senator Shane Reeves agreed.

“Jack Daniel’s has been making its world-famous whiskey since 1866 in Lynchburg,” he said. “That 150-year partnership, which has brought a lot of jobs, tourism, and revenue into this county, has only been possible because of the intentional effort by Moore County to have a low-tax, pro-business climate. Let’s not break something that has been working for over 15 decades.”

In a bit of serendipity, Jack Daniel mailed its annual Distillery Report to Moore County homes this week. In it, the Distillery reports that it accounts for one-half of all local taxes collected in Metro Moore County. Additionally, Visitors Center bottle sales contributed another $333,000 to Metro’s debt fund. They also employ over 700 Moore County residents, which is equivalent to 50 percent of all private sector jobs.

In addition, the reports states, that Jack Daniel’s “substantial payroll and vendor purchases ripple throughout the region” to the tune of $100 million in employee compensation and another $182 million in compensation throughout the state.

They also make hundreds of charitable donation to groups as close as the Whiskey Runners Car Club and Lynchburg Youth Baseball and national groups like the Alzheimer’s Association and the American Cancer Society. •

{The Lynchburg Times is the only independently owned and operated newspaper in Lynchburg. We cover Metro Moore County government, Jack Daniel’s Distillery, Nearest Green Distillery, Tims Ford State Park, Motlow State Community College, Moore County High School, Moore County Middle School, Lynchburg Elementary, Raider Sports, plus regional and state news.}

Ludacris and crew visit Jack Daniel and Nearest Green distilleries

Movers and shakers enjoyed a glass of Uncle Nearest on Monday. Pictured (from bottom left) Ludacris, Jessica Burns, Ludacris’s wife his Eudoxie Mbouguiengue, Kenny Burns, Fawn Weaver and (in the top right) Will Packer and his wife, Nina. {Photo Courtesy of Nearest Green Distillery}

There are lots of made-in-Tennessee whiskeys sitting on liquor stores shelves with compelling stories but none enjoy the narrative of Nearest Green’s Distillery’s Uncle Nearest’s brands. For those who aren’t familiar, Nathan “Nearest” Green is the black, slave who taught Jack Daniel how to make whiskey. He’s credited with being the first Jack Daniel Distillery Master Distiller. Today, he enjoys a distillery that bears his name, the Nearest Green Distillery located off Highway 231 in Shelbyville.

On Monday, that narrative brought several famous faces to the distillery for a VIP tour with founder, Fawn Weaver. Atlanta-based rapper Ludacris along with his wife, Eudoxie Mbouguiengue, film producer Will Packer and his wife, Nina, jeweler to the stars Mo Jooma, and TV and radio executive Kenny Burns and his wife, Jessica all visited.

“Luda brought seven of his friends on his jet to do an all day Founders Tour with us,” said Weaver. “We started in Lynchburg and partnered with Jack Daniel’s Distillery to get them a private tour. They also had a meal a Miss Mary Bobo’s, saw the grave sites of Jack Daniel and the memorial for Nearest, and the Dan Call Farm. Lastly, they toured the Nearest Green Distillery and enjoyed a private meal catered by Chuck Baker at Barrel House Barbecue.”

Weaver says it’s the first time they’ve added the Jack Daniel Distillery tour to one of the Nearest Green’s Founder’s Tours.

“Luda and his crew loved it. They were here for over 10 hours and they had a blast,” Weaver said.

Just goes to show you that you never know who you might see in Lynchburg. •

{The Lynchburg Times is an independently owned and operated newspaper that publishes new stories every morning. Covering Metro Moore County government, Jack Daniel’s Distillery, Nearest Green Distillery, Tims Ford State Park, Motlow State Community College, Moore County High School, Moore County Middle School, Lynchburg Elementary, Raider Sports, plus regional and state news.}