Sunday, March 23, 2014

Whiskey business

Around about 1850 a boy named Jasper Newton Daniel was born in Tennessee . One of 12 children, he was quickly nicknamed Jack.  At the age of 10, Jack was apprenticed to the local storekeeper who also happened to be the local Lutheran minister, Reverend Call.

Like many good men of the cloth, Rev. Call enjoyed a drink. As a storekeeper he could run his own still. Whiskey was his drink and using traditional Lincoln county processes made Rev. Call's whiskey well sought after.  Jack took to the trade like a duck to water.  (Or a drinker to his whiskey...)

 (public domain image sourced from wikipedia)

Unfortunately, the reverend's congregation (and wife) found his whiskey business to be somewhat at odds with his day job. He chose to sell the business to Jack who had been recently orphaned.  Legend has it that Jack was the ripe old age of 13, although given the uncertainty around his birth date this is hard to verify.

Three years later he relocated a thriving business to Lynchburg, Tennessee and become something of a local legend. The whiskey he created still bears his name and the distillery still exists today on the original site as a multi million dollar business.

However it all came to a somewhat inglorious end.

One morning Jack came into work and went to open the safe to check the takings from the day before.  The combination failed to work the first time and the safe would not open. In frustration, Jack kicked it.

The offending safe
(Public domain image sourced from wikipedia)

He must have kicked it fairly hard, because it caused him to fracture one of his toes.  In all likelihood this was an open fracture as well, meaning that there was a cut in the skin overlying the fracture.

Reportedly he was so embarrassed that although he began to limp immediately there was a great delay in seeking medical treatment. By the time he did it was too late.

Infection had set in, probably in the bone, requiring amputation of the foot, and later the leg. It is entirely possible that during thoses procedures a good dose of old number 7 was used to keep Jack anaethetised, and almost certainly for pain relief thereafter. These measures kept things at bay another six years, however eventually the previously chronic infection became acute when it spread to his blood stream.

According to the story told regularly on the tour of the distillery at Lynchburg, Jack's last words were, " one more drink, please."

Maybe if he'd poured it on his toe he'd have had time for a few more.

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