View Full Version : Jack Daniel's 1914 Gold Medal
I was reading a tasting thread on Jack Daniel's Single Barrel, and went to check it's price on my state liquor website.
In doing so, I noticed a listing for "Jack Daniel's 1914 Gold Medal", 90 proof, $32.30.
Is this just regular JD in a special bottle? Or is this a different whiskey? I'm assuming it's at least marginally different due to the 90 proof bottling.
It is part of JD's Gold Medal series aimed mostly at collectors. Seven bottles in all, I think they have released 5 to date.
Are these "collectibles" in the same sense as the various wax dip Maker's Mark bottles, i.e., same whiskey, just different packaging?
Yes, all the 'medal' bottles are 90 proof. Same whiskey, different medal.
Speaking of Jack, I am reading the biography that came out earlier this year. A good read, with some interesting information, e.g. he cites the year (1880) when corn overtook rye in volumes employed in U.S. whiskey production. Hmmm, interesting.
Also, he cites a person in 1600's Colonial America whom he claims devised the idea of distilling whiskey from corn. He quotes from a letter this person wrote in which he stated he often disdained strong English beer in favor of his own corn whiskey. I thought perhaps the Colonial was brewing, not distilling, from a corn mash, but the author of the book says he distilled. (The quotation from the letter is short and doesn't specfically use the word distilled or a variant).
A lot of information is casually imparted, e.g., about the switch from very small pot stills to the 3-chambered beer still to larger column stills.
He talks about how Jack Daniel tasted from each barrel, with tip of tongue only to avoid imbibing on the job.
Jack was a protean businessman, clearly a kind of genius in the way he grew his company and persuaded people to buy his product. He liked his own whiskey, famously taken in a julep made with tansy instead of mint, but seems withal to have been a moderate drinker.
One of the things I find fascinating in the Jack Daniel biography (by Peter Krauss) is the very high regard in which Jack Daniel Tennessee Whiskey was held when Jack Daniel was in charge and the company was growing by leaps and bounds. Many comments in the book show that consumers thought it was the best whiskey available in the U.S. And these consumers were the top people, testimonials are cited from high level politicians, senior businessmen and others including an English grandee who was a judge at the St. Louis Exposition in the early 1900's at which Jack Daniel was awarded top prize out of some 25 whiskeys judged. The competition was not further discussed in the book. I wonder if records still exist in St. Louis concerning that competition. If they do, it would be interesting to see whether the panel judged whiskey like we do today. Their notes might give insight on what bourbon and Tennessee tasted like then. Anyway, it is interesting to ponder that while today Jack is a bigger seller than ever, it does not really have the imprimatur of the best whiskey in America. I mean, many of its fans would hold that it does, and fair enough, but amongst a group such as ours here, I think many would say they enjoy it but there are numerous whiskies (bourbons) that trump it in taste. Why would this not have been the case in the late 1800's and early 1900's? Surely some at least of the great bourbon whiskeys of the time (Old Forester or the predecessor to Old Grandad, Old Taylor, etc.) were as good as Jack Daniel's whiskey or better.
Could Jack Daniel whiskey have been different in 1904 than it is today? Better, perhaps? I would think it tasted like some of the contemporary single barrels of Jack Daniel but who knows..?
If the notes of the judging panel at the 1904 St. Louis Exposition could be unearthed, that may give insight into what Jack Daniel's Old No. 7 tasted like then and what the 24 other whiskies judged tasted like too.
I wonder who guards the records of that famous fair.
In competitive tastings in which the judges are not whiskey drinkers (a phenomenon not as rare as you might think) the beverage with the mildest flavor often wins. To the judges, it is not so much the best as the least offensive. I have seen Maker's Mark win many competitions on this basis. The folly, of course, is that whiskey drinkers want just the opposite.
That may be so in this case but of course we don't know who the panel was (except for Henry Hoctor, the English grandee, he is mentioned in Krauss' book). I did a little web searching and an offical book was published not long after the Exposition which is a chronology of events and listing of exhibitors. It is called, "History of the Louisiana Purchase Exposition". Whiskey was in no. 771 of the official Exposition product classification, by the way. The book shows pictures of some of the products exhibited, for example. Maybe it would have the detail I am referring to. It is in the main St. Louis Library!
Shall I take that as a request for information?
If I were to venture downtown to the library someday I'll check it out for you Gary. But I rarely go downtown for anything other than sporting events or the occasional bachelor party (happening much less these days as I am running out of bachelor friends at my age). A shame I should say since there are so many interesting places to go downtown but I have always ended up going the wrong way on one way streets there and pretty much can find anything I want in the outlying areas. I tend to leave such expeditions to when I entertain out of town guests (Hmmm, such as maybe from Canada?). That way we both get the benefit of a first time visit.
My father grew up in St. Louis in the house his grandfather built from lumber salvaged from the Exposition. Every Saturday he would borrow the neighborhood junkman's horse and wagon, take them over to the fair site (which was reasonably nearby), and load up as much lumber as the horse could handle. That would usually be as much as he could get nailed up over a weekend anyway. He did that every weekend until the house was completed.
Dane, thanks, but I didn't mean to imply that you should check for this! I mentioned St. Louis' library because the web site from which I got the name of the book was linked to that source. I'm sure all major libraries have that book and I can find it here. That is a good project for me as the winter approaches. I'll keep you all advised!
Neat story Chuck. Is there any chance the house is still standing?
And if not, did the lumber get reused yet again?
I know for sure that it isn't. I checked a few years ago. At no small risk to life and limb, I might add.
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