We're Backkkk.....

Back in 2009, we launched this blog to chronicle our initial journey the Jack Daniels World Championship Invitational Barbecue Competition - aka "The Jack.". Billed as the "World Championship of Barbecue", this epicurean "Superbowl" is held in the sleepy little hollow of Lynchburg, TN (pop.361) the 4th Saturday in October each year. It just so happens that Lynchburg is also home to the world renowned Jack Daniels distillery - the primary sponsor and namesake behind this culinary extravaganza.

Each year, tens of thousands of competition BBQ teams from across the United States (and around the world) spend countless hours and weekends competing in sanctioned BBQ events. These teams vie not only for Grand Championships & serious prize money (sometimes as much as $100K) - but perhaps even more importantly, they are all hoping by the end of the "BBQ season" to grab one of the 60 highly coveted spots to cook against an elite group of teams for the title of "world's best" (the "Jack" is by invitation only).

We competed in the 2009 Jack, and finished in the "middle of the pack" - an accomplishment we were certainly proud of. And after more or less taking the year off in 2010, "Hoochie-Que" is ramping up to make another run at a coveted invitation to the Jack in 2011.

So, after over a year of "neglect", we are "dusting off" this little ol' blog to once again share with family, friends, and other BBQ cooks/fans our experiences as we start our journey hopefully towards another invitation to the "Jack" in October 2011.

Also - and especially if you are new to this blog - make certain to read back through the "Blog Archive" to re-visit our experiences and trip to the Jack back in 2009! Some pretty good writing, memories & photos if I do say so myself!

Thanks - and we hope to see you in Lynchburg on October!

March 26, 2011

Friday, September 11, 2009

Who the heck is this "Lem" dude??...

Well, as I was about to fall asleep Wednesday night, my wife gently tossed me a large envelope we had received in the mail that day from the Jack Daniel's Distillery. In it was my official invitation to The Jack this year (as seen to the right - click on the image to enlarge ), along with some other material regarding the teams who had been invited, hotel info (as of last week, the closest hotel rooms were already 25 miles away), a parking pass, etc... The invitation is on "official" Jack Daniel's stationary, with some sort of gold foil raised lettering at the top that is beautiful. Without a doubt, my invite will find itself in a frame and on a wall before long.

With this having been said, however, I must admit I was still just a little disappointed. Why? Because "Jack" didn't sign it... When I was younger, Santa Claus and the Tooth Fairy signed letters and notes to me... Now that I am an "older" kid who still has his "toys" - and who is indeed "living the dream" by going to the Jack this year - you would have thought they could have appeased the child in me just a little... And found some kinda "Jack" out there to have signed my invitation... I mean, they had his picture there and everything - so why not his signature???

Maybe "Jack" will be there to greet us when we check-in...

There was also something else a little "weird" with my invite... While they have "Jack's" picture on the stationary, they also have some other dude's name next to the photo, and they list him - and not "Jack" - as "Proprietor" of the Jack Daniel's Distillery... Some guy named "Lem Motlow"... Like, what is that all about? Was/is "Jack" akin to the Easter Bunny or something?

Well, I did a little Googling - and yes, Virginia, there really was a "Jack Daniel"... Jasper Newton "Jack" Daniel to be exact... One of 13 children... And he indeed established the Jack Daniel's distillery when he was at the ripe old age of 16 (or 20, depending on your source regarding his date of birth... Supposedly his birth records were destroyed in a courthouse fire...)

Now - Jack never married (from looking at that bush on his upper lip, I figure the women in his life probably complained that his mustache tickled just a little too much) , nor did he ever have any children... But he DID have a nephew - Lem Motlow. Turns outs Lem was pretty good with numbers and ciphering, so before long he was doing all the accounting for the distillery.

Due to failing health, Jack eventually gave Lem the distillery in 1907. Talk about your "rich uncle stories"... Jack died in 1911, allegedly due to "blood poisoning" from an infection originating in his foot. Story has it that Jack had a safe with a combination that he never could remember, he got angry one day when he tried to open it and failed - and he kicked the safe! He hurt his toe - infection set in - and well, that was that for ol' Jack... Good lesson in anger management I suppose.

In 1910, the state of Tennessee passed prohibition laws preventing the legal distillation of Jack Daniel's whiskey. Lem moved the distillery to two locations - Birmingham, AL, and St. Louis, MO - although the production at these sites had serious quality issues, and a bottle of Jack from these locations was never sold to the public.

Before Lem and crew could get their act together at either of these sites, national prohibition was signed into effect in 1919 (18th Amendment). In 1933, Prohibition was repealed (21st Amendment) - but Lem was still unable to resume the distillation of Jack Daniel's in Tennessee due to state prohibition laws that were still in effect. Somewhere along the line, ol' Lem got himself elected as a state senator, and he work to repeal these state prohibition laws in TN, and production of Jack Daniel's resumed in 1938.

However, due to cash flow problems, Lem could not wait the normal four years for the Jack Daniel's whiskey to age in the barrels. So he began bottling some of the whiskey after only twelve months. This would be distributed as "Lem Motlow's Tennessee Whiskey". The first bottling occurred in November, 1939, and continued until 1986. A bottle of "Lem Motlow's Tennessee Whiskey" is today considered a "must have" by all serious Jack Daniel's collectors.

Distillation ceased nationally again from 1942 to 1946 due to World War II. When quality grain became available again after the war, operations resumed in 1947.

Lem died in 1947 - but his efforts to keep Jack Daniel's whiskey alive were not forgotten. When the company was eventually incorporated, it was done so as "Jack Daniel Distillery, Lem Motlow, Prop., Inc." This has allowed the company to remember and honor Lem in their marketing to this day.

(On a side note, advertisements from Jack Daniel's also continue to this day to state that Lynchburg only has a population of 361 people - when the 2000 US Census actually shows a population of 5740. This population "claim" is still made because the entire label on a bottle of Jack Daniel's was trademarked in the 1960's when 361 was more or less the population in Lynchburg. If Jack Daniel's were to change the label today to more accurately reflect the population in Lynchburg - and/or delete the reference to the population in Lynchburg - well, it would require applying for a brand new trademark and forfeiting trademark protection. So - Lynchburg will always have a population of 361!

And if there weren't enough twists already in this story, Lynchburg today is in a "dry county" - so you can't buy any Jack Daniel's in any retail store locally... The distillery, however, by state law is allowed to sell a commemorative product to the public at the distillery - so the "Gentleman Jack" and "Jack Daniel's Single Barrel" products are available at the distillery's White Rabbit Bottle Shop.)

"And now you know the rest of the story..."

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