Is Jack Daniel's a bourbon?

In Prime Liquor's Bit-sized Alcohol knowledge series on our Instagram, you learned that the major difference between a Scotch Whiskey and a Bourbon Whiskey lies in where it is made.

Just a little recap:

  • Scotch - Whiskey that is made in Scotland
  • Bourbon - Whiskey that is made in the United States of America

We all know the famous O' Jack Daniel's is made in America. So, can we classify it as a Bourbon? Although Jack Daniel's is made almost exactly like Bourbon, and pretty much taste like Bourbon, Jack Daniel's is not a Bourbon; that's the undisputed answer.


We did a poll on our Instagram, and found out that as much as 78% of the participants think that Jack Daniel's is a bourbon. So we wrote this article to hopefully educate you on the truth about Jack Daniel's.


Jack Daniel's is a Tennessee Whiskey

Jack Daniel's doesn't want to be bourbon, not now, not ever. To it's makers and it's legions of fans, Jack Daniel's is everything bourbon is and more. 'The Lincoln County Process' is the extra step that makes Jack Daniel's better and smoother than traditional bourbon. 


So why isn't Jack Daniel's a bourbon?

The answer goes back to the Repeal of Prohibition in 1933. When the American distilling business restarted, new rules were put in place. If your whiskey met the standards for bourbon you had to call it bourbon. 

This was a problem for Tennessee’s Motlow family, makers of Jack Daniel’s Tennessee Whiskey. Because the state of Tennessee was not part of the repeal, Jack Daniel's could not resume it's operations until 1937, only when distilling became legal in Tennessee.

When Jack Daniel’s started up again, they made some products they could sell right away, such as brandy and unaged corn whiskey, but they knew the Jack Daniel’s Tennessee Whiskey they were making would not need label approval until about 1941, because it would take that long for the first batch to fully age.

When they eventually did submit their label for approval, they did not use the bourbon classification. That began a series of negotiations between the government and Lem Motlow’s son, Reagor. The family had never called their whiskey bourbon before and they didn’t intend to start now.

The government told Jack Daniel's that they had to call it a Bourbon under the law of the states. But eventually, these negotiations went in favour to the Motlow family. They were allowed to label Jack Daniel's under a new classification of 'Tennessee Whiskey'



While Jack Daniel's seem everything like a Bourbon (in fact, it is the top-selling bourbon-like brand in the world), there is a little back-story filled with politics that made Jack Daniel's stand proud as a Tennessee Whiskey.

At the end of the day, we just care how smooth of a whiskey Mr. Jack is.

We'd like you to enjoy your next Jack Daniel's with this little additional knowledge in mind. We're giving out a $7 off promo code for your next Jack Daniel's purchase. Key in the code below before checkout to enjoy the discount.


Jack Daniel's Prime Liquor

Click on the Jack Daniel's to make a purchase now!