I’ve consumed a lot of whiskey in my time. I would say that for some people I’m known for it. It’s certainly played a large role in my life.
The first whiskey I ever drank regularly was Wild Turkey, as it was the shot I ordered whenever I went to my regular bar in college. I don’t know who originated the “shot and a beer” action plan for the start of the evening, but I followed it.
And Wild Turkey was cheap.
I’m sure I initially consumed whiskey in 7&7s and Jack and Cokes, as all early drinkers do. A particularly awful morning after and some sage advice from my grandfather got me to switch to whiskey and water, which eventually led to whiskey on the rocks, which is now often whiskey neat depending upon a) the whiskey and b) the weather.
I enjoy Scotch and will periodically have a decent bottle of it around the house, but there is only one type of whiskey that is always in our bar: Jack Daniels.
So why, of all the whiskeys I’ve enjoyed in my lifetime, is it Jack Daniels that I drink the most?
Well, there’s the price, of course. It’s not the cheapest in the world, but it’s still very affordable, particularly when you buy the large bottles like I do. And it’s good. That helps.
But there are plenty of whiskeys out there that are reasonably good and reasonably priced. In my years of drinking whiskey, I’ve noticed something about Jack Daniels: it transcends demographics.
You can go into almost any establishment, regardless of social standing, and order Jack Daniels, because everyone has it. Lower class, upper class, dying middle class, blue collar or white collar, I’ve drank Jack Daniels with every group and have never had anyone say a disparaging thing about it.
It amazing, really, because try to think of anything else that travels between social classes the same way. Hell, water doesn’t even move up and down the ladder the way Jack Daniels does.
I have no idea how the marketing people at Jack Daniels have managed this. Is it a masculinity thing? Is it just manly enough for everyone to enjoy it without being so manly that it puts people off?
Perhaps it’s the fact that it’s American, which I realize is a trick word as it’s often co-opted for horrible things. But Jack Daniel’s is produced by an American company and brewed in Tennessee. It’s technically straight bourbon, but is labeled as “Tennessee whiskey” and there’s nothing more American than refusing to label yourself in any way that doesn’t involve the U.S. of A.
There’s probably also something to the fact that Jack Daniel’s is brewed in a dry county, which means you can’t actually buy it there. There’s just something so American about that, too.
So maybe that’s it. Maybe Jack Daniel’s is sewn into the very fabric of our being as Americans, so much so that we can’t lose it regardless of which way up the social ladder we go.
And maybe I’m just a man of the people.