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Another Master Distiller?


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#21 Max

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Posted 06 August 2018 - 05:49 PM

Yes he did Tomek.
I was totally shocked.


Shocked also but so glad you got this info directly from Frank for us

I guess back then head distiller (it only became Master Distiller during Jimmys reign) was just that - a hands on role, distilling whiskey from start to finish and in the early days Jack and later Lem probably mainly dealt with the business side of things rather than the distilling. We know Nearest taught Jack the art of making whiskey but did Jack actually do much of that himself ? Especially as time went on he would have had employees to do it for him

I still think the title of Master Distiller in today’s terms is a little much for Nearest, do we have any documents to support how many employees the Distillery had during the time Nearest was there ? Possibly just him and Jack at that time, so Master Distiller or The Distiller ? Of course not wanting to take anything away from Nearest, it’s always been said he is the man that taught Jack the Lincoln County Process that has made Jack Daniels the success it is today


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#22 Max

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Posted 06 August 2018 - 05:51 PM

I would imagine as he probably just going along, trying not to rock the boat !!! BF might be funny about someone going against what they have decided ...


I would have thought exactly the same if he wasn’t confirming what he’d quoted back in 1972


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#23 MikeandJack

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Posted 06 August 2018 - 06:15 PM

I am putting a timeline on the events & dates during this time of history pertaining to the Jack Daniel Distillery.

Here is what I know to be facts:

1866-1911  -   Jack Daniel is listed as being 1st Master Distiller.

December, 1905  -   John Tolley starting up Lem's new Still House.

May, 1906  -   John still working for Lem at the Distillery.

April, 1907  -   Jack Daniel willed his Distillery to his brother Dick & Lem Motlow. Lem immediately bought out Dick for $10,000 & became sole owner of the Distillery.

October 12, 1911  -   Jack Daniel dies.

1911-1941  -   Jess Motlow listed as being 2nd Master Distiller.

 

Now let's break this down:

 

When Jack Daniel willed his Distillery to Dick & Lem in 1907, he walked away from everything. He had found religion, was not in good health, and never again had anything to do with the Distillery. He even wanted to take his name off the bottles & his name off the Distillery, but Lem had already purchased all trade marks & brands & would not do it. Jack would pass away in 1911.

This immediately tells us Jack Daniel quit being Master Distiller in 1907.

Jess Motlow became Master Distiller in 1911. Lem convinced Jess to come back to Lynchburg at that time. He was a distiller in Chattanooga, TN at the White Oak Distillery.

So....who made whiskey from 1907 to 1911?

The easy answer is to say Lem Motlow made the whiskey, but he is never listed as a Master Distiller.

I think Jack Daniel told Lem sometime in 1905/06 that he was getting out. Lem then started a new still house & hired John Tolley to make the whiskey.

Lem & John Tolley probably made the whiskey until Mr. Jess arrived in 1911. This would make John Tolley the 2nd Master Distiller.

We don't know how long this was being done or when the Distillery went completely dry because Prohibition took effect sometime in 1910/11.

 

Again....this is just me thinking (which is dangerous according to Beth) and speculating. Having the Distillery Historian contact me about John Tolley made me start putting things together. Having done this, it does make sense that John Tolley could have been a Master Distiller.

 

I am curious what you guys think.


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#24 Max

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Posted 06 August 2018 - 09:01 PM

Ok as I read your first sentence about Jack being listed as MD until 1911 I had the same thought about when he found religion

From what I’ve learned, Lem was a businessman - more a salesman than a Distiller, in fact I don’t think we’ve ever heard the possibility of him ever being a Master Distiller - but why ? I would think it’s very possible he learned the art of making the whiskey himself alongside the Master Distiller, I can’t see someone like Lem letting an employee have the upper hand by knowing more about his business than he did, so maybe it was around this time he could have worked side by side with John Tolley ? Could it be possible that during this time 1907-1911 Jack was teaching Lem as part of the handover and Lem involved John as a backup due to Dick not having an interest ? At least the first year or so anyway ......

Love discussions like this and trying to imagine what was happening back then


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#25 southrock

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Posted 06 August 2018 - 09:55 PM

I am putting a timeline on the events & dates during this time of history pertaining to the Jack Daniel Distillery.

Here is what I know to be facts:

1866-1911  -   Jack Daniel is listed as being 1st Master Distiller.

December, 1905  -   John Tolley starting up Lem's new Still House.

May, 1906  -   John still working for Lem at the Distillery.

April, 1907  -   Jack Daniel willed his Distillery to his brother Dick & Lem Motlow. Lem immediately bought out Dick for $10,000 & became sole owner of the Distillery.

October 12, 1911  -   Jack Daniel dies.

1911-1941  -   Jess Motlow listed as being 2nd Master Distiller.

 

Now let's break this down:

 

When Jack Daniel willed his Distillery to Dick & Lem in 1907, he walked away from everything. He had found religion, was not in good health, and never again had anything to do with the Distillery. He even wanted to take his name off the bottles & his name off the Distillery, but Lem had already purchased all trade marks & brands & would not do it. Jack would pass away in 1911.

This immediately tells us Jack Daniel quit being Master Distiller in 1907.

Jess Motlow became Master Distiller in 1911. Lem convinced Jess to come back to Lynchburg at that time. He was a distiller in Chattanooga, TN at the White Oak Distillery.

So....who made whiskey from 1907 to 1911?

The easy answer is to say Lem Motlow made the whiskey, but he is never listed as a Master Distiller.

I think Jack Daniel told Lem sometime in 1905/06 that he was getting out. Lem then started a new still house & hired John Tolley to make the whiskey.

Lem & John Tolley probably made the whiskey until Mr. Jess arrived in 1911. This would make John Tolley the 2nd Master Distiller.

We don't know how long this was being done or when the Distillery went completely dry because Prohibition took effect sometime in 1910/11.

 

Again....this is just me thinking (which is dangerous according to Beth) and speculating. Having the Distillery Historian contact me about John Tolley made me start putting things together. Having done this, it does make sense that John Tolley could have been a Master Distiller.

 

I am curious what you guys think.

 

Mike.. I think you are probably pretty close,( dangerous thinking or not,) as to what actually transpired, in my mind anyway, and I will disagree with your better half !!!   Sorry Beth, but Mike is the authority as far as I am concerned !!!

The facts speak volumes about what happened back then and speculating, using facts and common sense, I believe come as close to the truth as a person could get..

 

Love the history and I just can't get enough !!!!


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#26 southrock

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Posted 06 August 2018 - 10:01 PM

Ok as I read your first sentence about Jack being listed as MD until 1911 I had the same thought about when he found religion

From what I’ve learned, Lem was a businessman - more a salesman than a Distiller, in fact I don’t think we’ve ever heard the possibility of him ever being a Master Distiller - but why ? I would think it’s very possible he learned the art of making the whiskey himself alongside the Master Distiller, I can’t see someone like Lem letting an employee have the upper hand by knowing more about his business than he did, so maybe it was around this time he could have worked side by side with John Tolley ? Could it be possible that during this time 1907-1911 Jack was teaching Lem as part of the handover and Lem involved John as a backup due to Dick not having an interest ? At least the first year or so anyway ......

Love discussions like this and trying to imagine what was happening back then


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Max,,, I believe your thoughts are spot on. It all make perfect sense and is very logical as well !!!  We may never know exactly, but until documents are presented to discount any of the speculation, I will accept these thoughts as an almost perfect explanation.. 


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#27 MikeandJack

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Posted 06 August 2018 - 10:10 PM

Max:

I agree with your thoughts except for 1 thing. I don't believe Jack Daniel had anything to do with the Distillery after April, 1907.

I don't think he was teaching Lem or John Tolley during this time (1907-1911). Just my opinion.

I do know Lem Motlow helped make whiskey after Prohibition, so he knew how. I think his Uncle Jack taught him how. He obviously let his brother Jess be the Distiller, but I think he helped.

I'm curious what the Distillery comes out with. They may have some documents we have never seen.


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#28 Willie Pete

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Posted 06 August 2018 - 10:20 PM

From what I've heard all the Brandy with Lem's name on it, was his special undertaking, done seperate from the whiskey. Jack also made him start at the bottom and work his way up so I would say he knew how to distill whiskey.


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#29 blkold7

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Posted 06 August 2018 - 11:31 PM

Mike,

 When you talked to the JD Historian, did you ask him about The Daniel & Call Distillery that was mentioned in The Lynchburg Sentinel in 1877, along with other Distilleries, but no mention of The Jack Daniel's Distillery. What years did Nearest Green work for either The Jack Daniel's Distillery or The Daniel & Call Distillery?

 

 Maybe Frank should answer this question also, since he said Nearest was a Master Distiller, but of which Distillery?

 

Roy


Edited by blkold7, 06 August 2018 - 11:39 PM.

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#30 Max

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Posted 07 August 2018 - 06:00 PM

From what I've heard all the Brandy with Lem's name on it, was his special undertaking, done seperate from the whiskey. Jack also made him start at the bottom and work his way up so I would say he knew how to distill whiskey.


Good point, yes Frank told us that Lem had a thing for the fruit Brandies, I think that was his own little experimental sideline which again shows us he was also involved in the whiskey making himself, I’d forgotten about that.


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#31 Max

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Posted 07 August 2018 - 06:09 PM

Amazing story Mike. Thanks for sharing. I loved seeing these in person.

To take you completely off topic though, why are there corrections written in the margins of the Tennessee Historical Quarterly you have there? Editor's copy?


Good eye as usual Jimmy but I compared it to mine and it’s printed just the same


IMG_3199.JPG



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#32 Edwin

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Posted 07 August 2018 - 09:43 PM

Wauw guys, took me a while to read this thread with all this interesting stuff.

As you mention Mike I wonder what the BF historian comes up with although I have more faith in you historical knowledge.


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#33 MikeandJack

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Posted 08 August 2018 - 02:20 AM

Roy:

When I talked to Frank about Nearest Green, he defended the Distillery's decision to make him the 1st Master Distiller.

For this reason I did not talk any more about it. I know his reason but am not going to put it in writing.

 

I did not ask the historian which Distillery Nearest worked at. I assumed it was the Jack Daniel Distillery, or he would not have been there.


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#34 muxnow

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Posted 08 August 2018 - 08:04 AM

Interesting historic story - thank you for sharing with us Mike! I would appreciate if the history do not have changes due to evidences which are not very clear. It is always difficult to decide what is the truth and i am shocked as you are, that Frank acknowledged Nearest beeing the first master distiller.


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#35 squireno7

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Posted 08 August 2018 - 09:18 AM

it makes me wonder why they are doing all this research lately. I don't think it all started just to release another bottle...............


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#36 MZ85

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Posted 08 August 2018 - 10:13 AM

Thanks for sharing Mike - I believe the Distillery has to put their historical parts together as long as possible, as when people die they mostly take their knowledge with them.


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#37 Bedford County Native

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Posted 16 August 2018 - 12:55 PM

Hello all,

 

May i join in this thread a little bit?  with MIke's documents and his help - I started tracking various families in the distilling business. 

First there was Alfred Eaton in the 1850s. Then they partnered with the Tolley family to create "Tolley and Eaton" distilling as early as 1871.  This would be the earlier family of John Tolley discussed here.  I am confused to date of how many different Tolley family are named John, so more digging on that.

 

Then there was a distillery Tolley Brothers, they were near Mulberry also, either at Eaton's original distillery closer to Kelso or even operating Call's on Louse Creek.  Finally in 1890s it is John Tolley alone.  I also have a reference in newspapers that John Tolley goes into partnership with Betterton in Chattanooga in distilling there and not necessarily White Oak, but another.   That was probably mostly for distribution. 

 

These partnerships changed consistently with payment of IRS taxes.

How many folks were named John Tolley is the next question?

Also the article in THQ can be found today in JSTOR if you have access to that.  This article written by Jeanne Bigger relied heavily on Ben Green's book as well as local interviews.  Just a bit of extra trivia.

 

 

Thanks to all. I rely on you all for great detail and tips and I go research from there.


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#38 southrock

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Posted 16 August 2018 - 02:13 PM

Great work researching all of that information !!  It takes time and persistence to dig up info like that . I appreciate your efforts and look forward to any and all updates of your findings !!   Thanks !!!


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#39 MikeandJack

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Posted 16 August 2018 - 10:22 PM

Thanks for the info Carol. Your research is the best!!

For those who don't know, Carol works at the Tennessee Archives Building in Nashville. She has been there for many years.

She does EXCELLENT work!

When she tells you something, you better believe it because she has the facts.   ;D    :clap


Edited by MikeandJack, 16 August 2018 - 10:23 PM.

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#40 Max

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Posted 16 August 2018 - 10:59 PM

Amazing information - thanks Carol and Mike


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