Angelo Lucchesi, A Tennessee Legend: the Jack Daniels Godfather
Introducing Jack Daniels Old No.7
“We have this guy who would be a real help to you getting some traction for Jack Daniels”
We were in our third year of introducing Old No 7 to pubs in England and were slowly getting folk interested in a whisky from Tennessee which was somewhere deep in bluegrass country music land in the US of A.
This mysterious guy they had mentioned arrived in due course. He was a one armed, non drinking, fairly rotund and somewhat short guy with an enormous grin and a character to match.
‘Now this is going to be interesting’, I thought; how is this guy going to be of much help?
Where are we going, who are we seeing… it was a blur of questions. This guy must be running on a super pack of Duracells!
Angelo Lucchesi and the Rat Pack
“So Angelo how come you don’t drink? Isn’t that somewhat difficult when you want to persuade someone to sample some of the Old No 7 Jack Daniels?”
“Well most of the pack used to drink enough for me as well, so I don’t need to drink.” The pack he was referring to was Frank Sinatra, Dean Martin and a few well known other “rat pack” members… famous company indeed! So, the “Godfather of Jack Daniels” was an apt way of describing the Italian connection.
The Rat Pack, smiling after a dram of Jack?!
That was one version… another one had me in tears of convulsive laughter as Angelo with an enormous grin mimicked the difficulty of opening a bottle with one hand on the bar… “cant be done, so don’t drink!”
Yet another story about why he didn’t drink was that he was the Founder member of The White Rabbit Saloon in Lynchburg Tennessee which is the only dry pub I know. Real close to the distillery in a dry county, the folk of Moore County voted to stay dry when Prohibition was rescinded in 1933… go figure, a distillery in the middle of a no drinking zone.
The White Rabbit Saloon, Lynchburg, Tennessee
Telling a story and selling Jack Daniels whiskey
Angelo didn’t need to sell whiskey; he simply charmed, told stories and engaged folk with his special brand of humour. The great and the good, the not so great and the bad. They all got fed into the hopper of The Lucchesi story telling machine.
“Jack, as in Jack Daniels, was a short guy, about my height...” would say Angelo, “so that’s how I got the job with the company.” True enough he was a tad vertically challenged but you just got sucked into the story that followed.
No matter who, or where, Angelo was he became a modern Pied Piper whose stories, tales and adventures woven around Old No.7 had all enthralled.
Angelo Lucchesi, official Jack Daniels salesman, and Frank Sinatra, unofficial Jack Daniels salesman!
Jack Daniels Old No.7 Angelo Lucchesi
So it was fitting that when he finally retired the company honoured him with a special memorial bottle simply labelled “ANGELO”.
Angelo Lucchesi, photographed by Kyle Kurlick
What a man… what a memory. A real privilege to have shared such a lovely time with an amazing man, simply awesome.
An early fork in the road of the whisky journey taken by the Founder of the Firkin Whisky Company, Mike Collings