It is the bombshell heard around Lynchburg and the whiskey-drinking world. A Welshman named Mark Evans believes he’s discovered the original recipe for Old No. 7 in a family heirloom and that his ancestor invented the Tennessee Sippin’ Whiskey in Llanelli in West Wales in 1853.
Sky News, a UK news source, broke the story last Saturday and the press, blog-o-sphere and message boards have been ablaze ever since.
According to the original report, “the book containing the lost recipe, which is written in Welsh, was handed to Mr. Evans’ grandmother Lillian Daniels Probert, 97, by her grandmother Marged, who was known for creating herbal medicines and ointments.”
Evans claims that the recipe was brought to Lynchburg by a distant relative, John “Jack the lad” Daniels – who traveled to relocate to Lynchburg, according to Evans but was never really heard from again.
The legend of Jack Daniel states that Jasper Newton “Jack” Daniel was born in September 1846. The marker at his gravesite in the Lynchburg Cemetery states he lived from 1850-1911. Also according to legend, the official records of his birth were destroyed in a fire.
In Ben A. Green’s book Jack Daniel’s Legacy, published in 1967, Green states that Jack Daniel’s mother, Lucinda Cook Daniel died in 1847 – three years before the death date list on his gravestone.
According to the National Historic Register, Jack Daniel’s Distillery is the oldest registered distillery in the United States – established in 1866.
According to Green’s book, there is “accumulated evidence that Jack Daniel leased a portion of The Hollow shortly after the Civil War ended.” However, Daniel actually purchased this leased property and additional acreage at a Trustee’s sale held on June 16, 1884. Deed for this transaction is recorded on pages 130-131 of Deed Book 3 in the Register’s Office at the Moore County Courthouse.
Last week, the Distillery answered Evans claims in a press release.
“It’s a good story, but one based in fancy rather than fact – as the dates don’t match historical record,” according to Jack Daniel’s Master Distiller Jeff Arnett. “The people and dates just don’t match up,” said Arnett. “Jack Daniel’s family was living in America for two generations prior to the 1853 date Mr. Evans suggests his relative came to the United States. His John ‘Jack the Lad’ Daniels is not our Jasper Newton ‘Jack’ Daniel.”
Green’s book claims that Jasper Newton’s grandparents – Joseph Daniel and Elizabeth Calaway Daniel eloped to the United States sometime around the Revolutionary War. They originally settled in North Carolina before traveling further south and settling in Franklin County.
Callaway Daniel, Jasper “Jack” Newton’s father, was the eighth child of that union. He married Lucinda Cook Daniel who became the mother of 10 children, Jasper “Jack” being the youngest.
At press time, Distillery officials had no plans to look at Evans’s recipe.
One interesting footnote is that Evans’s ancestors use the surname ‘Daniels’ while the local distillery is named after Jack Daniel – no “s.”
Another interesting footnote is that in Green’s book, he claims that Jasper Newton Daniel was known as “Jackie Boy.”
So are “Jack the Lad” and “Jackie Boy” one and the same?
Not according to local distillery officials and Evans has yet to offer concrete proof to the contrary.
But it’s just the kind of intrigue we love here in The Hollow. It’s probably not bad for whiskey sales either.