Who Owns Jack Daniels?

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Liquor is one of the most ubiquitous elements of adult life, but so often, we don’t even know the brands that we imbibe. The world of liquor is one of subsidiaries, shell companies, and misleading marketing, making it hard to even know which brands belong to which umbrella. In recent years, those umbrellas have gotten larger, expanding so that there are only a few monolithic companies that own most of the major brands consumers are familiar with.

Today, we’re going to look at one of the most famous liquor brands in the world, Jack Daniel’s, and see if we can determine which company owns it, plus a little about the process itself and how the company came to be acquired in the first place. Let’s get started.

To compile this information, 24/7 Wall Street used sources from Jack Daniel’s website, along with information from a historical dive via the New York Times.

Who Really Owns Jack Daniel’s?

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The Jack Daniel’s whiskey brand used to be an independent distillery until it was purchased by Brown-Forman in 1956.

Brown-Forman Corporation, headquartered in Louisville, Kentucky, has owned Jack Daniel’s Tennessee Whiskey since 1956.

The iconic brand boasts a rich history dating back to 1866, when founder Jack Daniel established his distillery in Lynchburg, Tennessee. The original owner, Jasper Newton “Jack” Daniel, was born in the mid-1800s and became a moonshine distiller after the Civil War. Later on, he acquired a distillery and started producing the famous square bottles as a way to “promote fairness,” although the connection is somewhat lost.

Prior to its acquisition by Brown-Forman (NYSE: BF.B), Jack Daniel’s ownership remained within the family for nearly a century. After Daniel’s death in 1911, his nephew, Lem Motlow, took over, passing it down through the family for a few generations.

Today, the original location is known as the oldest registered distillery in the United States, and Jack Daniel’s is recognized as the best-selling individual whiskey brand in the world.

What Other Brands Does Brown-Forman Corporation Own?

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Jack Daniel’s is the most popular brand from Brown-Forman, but they aren’t the only liquor, or even the only whiskey, owned by the company.

As far as portfolio stars go, Jack Daniel’s is the clear breadwinner for Brown-Forman, but it isn’t the only brand they have, and certainly not the only recognizable one.

American Whiskey:

  • Bourbon: Old Forester, Woodford Reserve
  • Tennessee Whiskey: Jack Daniel’s

International Whiskey:

  • Irish Whiskey: Slane
  • Scotch Whisky: The BenRiach, The GlenDronach, The Glenglassaugh

Gin: Fords Gin

Liqueur: Chambord

Tequila: Don Eduardo, El Jimador, Herradura, Pepe Lopez

Wine: Korbel

Ready-to-Drink: Little Black Dress (Vodka Coolers)

While not every brand listed is a household name, there are a few that do have some street recognition. Woodford Reserve, for reference, is generally viewed as a quality mid-tier offering, likely intentionally positioned above Jack Daniel’s from the company.

Looking at tequila, El Jimador is probably the most well-known and is one of the most sold brands in the world (number 6 in 2023, for reference).

Only a few years ago, the company also owned Southern Comfort and Tuaca but sold them off in 2016.

Brown-Forman’s History

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Upon purchase of the Jack Daniel’s family-owned distillery, Brown-Forman became the only liquor company to continuously operate before, during, and after the prohibition in the United States.

While Brown-Forman is one of the largest spirits and drink companies in the world, they are, surprisingly, still mostly family-run. The organization is based out of Louisville, Kentucky, and exceeds $5 billion in revenue yearly.

The company began in 1870 and really helped to pioneer the concept of selling liquor in a sealed glass bottle (something rather ubiquitous today). Part of the reason the company lasted so long is that it became a “medical distiller” during the prohibition, distilling whiskey to replenish medical stocks (alcohol was used as pain relief during and after surgery, yikes). After prohibition ended, it continued to grow, eventually adding more spirits to its lineup. By 1956, the company had over 37 items in its portfolio, and during that same year, officially purchased the Jack Daniel’s distillery in Lynchburg, Tennessee.

With a few of these major brands supporting the company through “the Dark Age of Dark Spirits,” they eventually came out on the other side. Today, Brown-Forman has partnerships with other brands, like Coca-Cola, part of the eponymous Jack and Coke RTD (ready-to-drink) product the company initiated based on the well-known cocktail.

While there are other brands under the portfolio, Jack Daniel’s dominates the sales of the brand. Without Jack Daniel’s, Brown-Forman would most likely not have had the success they’ve enjoyed, at least in the same way. Each year, there are around 150 million bottles of Jack Daniel’s sold around the world, and is usually the top or among the top-sold whiskeys in the entire world.

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