Duckmaster, Master Distiller lead final march to new home
Five North American Mallard ducks have completed their service as famed ambassadors of The Peabody Memphis hotel and now will live out their years at another world famous Tennessee landmark — Jack Daniel’s Distillery.
It has been 80 years since the ducks first arrived at the hotel, and is the first time that Peabody Ducks have been retired to any location other than their private Memphis farm.
A good crowd was on hand on a crisp Wednesday morning to see the five feathered creatures head off into retirement. Escorted first by Duckmaster Anthony Petrina, the ducks were then turned over to Jack Daniel’s Master Distiller Jeff Arnett, who guided them to the crystal clear stream that flows just past the legendary statue of Jack Daniel.
Apparently the ducks’ legend has ties to Lynchburg itself, and the product that has made the town famous.
According to the folklore, ducks arrived at The Peabody in 1933 after the general manager and a friend returned from a hunting trip. The two had enjoyed a bit of Lynchburg’s hometown product and decided to place their live duck decoys — which were legal at the time — in the hotel’s lobby fountain as a prank. Hotel guests loved it and the rest is history.
“Jack Daniel’s and the Peabody Ducks have been connected from the very beginning, so it’s only natural that we would welcome a few of our webbed-footed friends to the distillery,” said Arnett. “These will be some of the best cared for ducks in the world, feasting on the same quality grain and cave spring water we use to make our whiskey. I guess you could say these ducks are getting the ultimate holiday present.”
The ducks took their final march in Lynchburg on Wednesday, with Petrina and Arnett guiding them down the red and black carpets and into a pond just below the distillery’s cave spring. Wild ducks have lived on the distillery property for decades and Petrina said the Peabody Ducks will be right at home in Lynchburg.
“We’ve always held Jack Daniel’s in the highest regard at The Peabody. Not only because it’s a point of state pride that it is a Tennessee whiskey, but because we know it’s entirely possible that without Jack Daniel’s and the warm companionship of friends on that cold night in 1933 there might not be ducks at The Peabody today,” said Petrina.
The Peabody’s well-known ambassadors always include one drake and four hens. The ducks are raised by a local farmer and friend of the hotel. Each team lives in the hotel for only three months before being retired from their Peabody duties. Typically, they are returned to the farm to live out their days as wild ducks.