Filling your predecessor’s shoes is no easy task especially when you are taking over for the world’s No. 1 selling whiskey. No, no pressure here. It’s a brand known by a single four-letter word – Jack. The brand of course is Jack Daniels Tennessee Whiskey.
In early September whiskey expert Jeff Arnett announced he was turning in his whiskey thief and retiring from his role as Master Distiller at Jack Daniels Distillery in Lynchburg, Tennessee. Arnett had been at Jack Daniels for the last 20 years and served as the Master Distiller for the last 12. A complete list of Jack Daniel’s distillers since its 1866 inception is listed below.
When we shared the news in September we made a guess that long time Assistant Master Distiller Chris Fletcher would soon take over the reins. It wasn’t much of a stretch; he’s got the education, the training and the genes.
Assistant Master Distiller Chris Fletcher Promoted to Master Distiller
Jack Daniel Distillery has officially announced that seasoned whiskey maker Chris Fletcher will take over the reins as Master Distiller of the iconic Tennessee Whiskey brand. Fletcher had previously served for six years as Assistant Master Distiller under Arnett and will now be responsible for the overall quality of Jack Daniel’s from “grain to glass,” innovation and serve as a global ambassador. In addition, he will oversee the distillery’s new “Distillers in Training” program which aims to recruit, teach, and mentor the next generation of whiskey makers.
“For the past six years, Chris has been right there and involved in every major distillery innovation, product and enhanced production process while ensuring our Tennessee Whiskey is of the highest character and quality,” said Larry Combs, Jack Daniel Distillery SVP and General Manager. “Chris has whiskey making in his blood, but he also has this incredible and unique combination of knowledge, expertise and creativity that will position us well into the future. Folks like Chris don’t come along every day, and backed by our tremendous senior leadership team, I have no doubt that he will flourish in this new role.”
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Fletcher is no stranger to distilling. He’s been raised with the smell of fermenting mash around him his entire life. Not only is he a native of Lynchburg, Tennessee he’s also the grandson of the late Frank “Frog” Bobo who served as Master Distiller from 1966 until his retirement in 1989. In addition to his pedigree he also has the education and experience. He started working as a part-time tour guide in 2001 while attending college. In 2003 he graduated with a B.S. degree in Chemistry from Tennessee Technological University and began work as a chemist with Brown-Forman in Research & Development for eight years. Following several years working in the bourbon industry, Fletcher came back home to the Jack Daniel Distillery in 2014 and was named Assistant Master Distiller.
“It’s an honor to be named Master Distiller here at Jack Daniel’s and join a line of folks who’ve made the best whiskey in the world,” said Chris Fletcher. “Over the last 17 years, I’ve been able to learn and work alongside so many talented whiskey makers, and I am very grateful for the mentors I’ve had, including Jeff Arnett who taught me so much. Our distillery and team here in Lynchburg are the best in the business, and I cannot wait to continue working with them crafting the world’s favorite Tennessee Whiskey.”
Chris, his wife, Ashley, and three-month old son, Payne Thomas, live in Lynchburg, Tennessee.
One piece of advice Chris, don’t kick the safe.
The Jack Daniel Distillery was officially registered by the U.S. Government in 1866 and is the first registered distillery in the United States and is on the National Register of Historic Places. Jack Daniel’s is the maker of the world-famous Jack Daniel’s Old No. 7 Tennessee Whiskey, Gentleman Jack Double Mellowed Tennessee Whiskey, Jack Daniel’s Single Barrel Tennessee Whiskey, Jack Daniel’s Tennessee Honey, Jack Daniel’s Tennessee Fire, Jack Daniel’s Tennessee Apple, Jack Daniel’s Tennessee Rye, Jack Daniel’s Sinatra Select and Jack Daniel’s Country Cocktails. Jack Daniel’s can be found in more than 170 countries around the world and is the most valuable spirits brand in the world as recognized by Interbrand.
Jack Daniel’s Master Distillers Since its Founding
|No. 1||Nearest Green||1866 to 1881|
|No. 2||Jack Daniel||1881 to 1911|
|No. 3||Jess Motlow||1911 to 1941|
|No. 4||Lem Tolley||1941 to 1963|
|No. 5||Jess Gamble||1964 to 1966|
|No. 6||Frank Bobo||1966 to 1988|
|No. 7||Jimmy Bedford||1988 to 2007|
|No. 8||Jeff Arnett||2008 to 2020|
|No. 9||Chris Fletcher||2020 to now|