One of the surprising moments on the Jack Daniel Distillery tour in Lynchburg, Tenn. was seeing the thing that killed the famous whiskey founder.
Jasper Newton "Jack" Daniel ran away from home when he was seven, some time in the 1850s, and moved in with Reverend Dan Call and helped him with his whiskey business. Call later adopted Jack and eventually sold him his whiskey business.
"Church people started talking about how the minister was working for God on Sunday and then making liquor on Monday. In order to keep the church family happy the Minister sold the business to Jack for $25," said distillery guide Jesse James.
Decades later Daniel came into work early one morning before anyone else had arrived at the distillery. He wanted to complete some paperwork and needed to open the safe. He had trouble remembering the combination, however, and grew so frustrated that he kicked the safe with his left foot.
Tour guides joke that Daniel could have saved himself by dipping his toe in whiskey. Instead, the blow to his big toe gave him a nasty infection and his foot had to be amputated. The gangrene continued to spread throughout his system and he eventually lost his left leg due to poor blood circulation.
Daniel, who never married and had no children, began turning more of the company’s operations over to his favorite nephew Lem Motlow and eventually gave him the business. He died due to complications from the gangrene infection on Oct. 9, 1911 at the age of 61.
The company was sold in 1956 to the Brown-Forman Corp., but the Motlow family is still the majority owner and continues to operate and manage the company.
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