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Jack Daniel's to George Dickel: Tennessee whiskey must have new barrels

There is a law in Tennessee that spells out in detail what is necessary to constitute authentic Tennessee whiskey, and lawmakers are considering reducing the standards a bit. According to a March 18 report on, Jack Daniel's is opposed to the potential change, and George Dickel, owned by British conglomerate Diageo PLC, is actually petitioning lawmakers for the move. Republican state Rep. Bill Sanderson says he is introducing the bill to make things easier for micro distilleries opening across the state, but he acknowledged that he was being urged on by Diageo.

George Dickel doesn't think Jack Daniel's should decide what goes in Tennessee whiskey.
Photo by Stephen Lovekin

MSN describes the law as it currently stands:

If it isn't fermented in Tennessee from mash of at least 51 percent corn, aged in new charred oak barrels, filtered through maple charcoal and bottled at a minimum of 80 proof, it isn't Tennessee whiskey.

The new oak barrels cost the distilleries approximately $600 each, and George Dickel claims they are making their whiskey in new oak barrels already just like Jack Daniel’s does. However, they would like to see the standards relaxed. Jack Daniel’s maintains that the new barrel is necessary to maintain the distinct taste and quality that Tennessee whiskey is known for around the world.

According to Wall Street Journal, Diageo doesn't want Jack Daniel's to set the course for the production of Tennessee whiskey. Jack Daniel's has been in Tennessee for a century and sells more than 90% of the Tennessee whiskey sold.

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