What is in a Name? The Origin of 3 Famous Alcohol Brands

written by Njoroge Muigai 1st October 2013

As we celebrate this ‘hallowed’ month of Oktoberfest 2013 with beer guzzling and chugging (which is a daily or weekly ritual for some) I got down to some research (which is rare) on some famous alcohol brands and their history.

I found some interesting info on the following three brands of alcoholic beverages that are beloved the world over

Jack Daniels



JD is revered as a ‘real’ mans liquor and true to its’ reputation, the real Jack Daniel was no sissy as he moved out of home at the age of six! Born Jasper Newton Daniel in the 1800’s, he was the youngest of 13 siblings.

He hailed from Tennessee and on clocking 6 years the man whom we owe the Jack Daniels legacy was already fending for himself ( what a tough little man). It is around this time that he might have also changed his name from Jasper to Jack.

After moving out, Daniel ended up working for a neighbor, Dan Call, who ironically was preacher and whiskey maker (talk of preaching water and drinking wine). Apparently those days in the South, the careers were complementary, you couldn’t be one without being the other O_o.

At the age of 13, Jack Daniels owned the whole operation as the reverend concentrated more on tending to the flock. During the Civil War he sold alcoholic beverages to both sides and using the money he made set up a proper distillery ( talk of being enterprising).

By 1866, Jack had the 1st registered distillery in the USA, quite an achievement at the time.



His dress code was somewhat a costume of sorts as he dressed in a planter’s hat and knee length coat. His face was adorned in mustache and goatee combo and in his 5’2” frame he probably looked like the Napoleon of the South, albeit the crazy drunken version.



That is how the famous Jack Daniels drink was ‘born’ and since its early days has become a top alcohol brand worldwide.



Probably the most loved vodka in the world, it owes its name to Peter Smirnoff who began making it in the 1800’s seems like it was a good century for alcohol). The vodka was so good that Peter was made th official distiller of Czar Alexander III

Just to give a picture of how good Smirnoff was, it was rolling out one million bottles per day by the 1900’s! However during the Russian Revolution, Peter’s distillery was confiscated and the Smirnoff in charge at the time was sentenced to death.


He manged to escape to Turkey where he managed to continue with the family business. Unfortunately due to the Great Depression, Smirnoff sells the company (1934) to Rudolph Kunnett who brought it to the US.



The man the world famous beer derives it’s name from is Aurthur Guinness  an Irishman who started brewing in the mid 1700’s.

At first his brew was not all that and it was at best just normal beer that didn’t impress. The turnaround came after Guinness to secure a 9,000 years lease at $45 per year on an abandoned brewery with $100 his father left him! This is the epitome of being shrewed.



The modern day Guinness as we know and ‘eat’ it was as a result of a fire which broke out at the brewery and scorched the entire stock of barley. The brewers decided to use the burnt barley and presto! the dark frothy Guinness was born!







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