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A shared passion for craftsmanship

2016 marks the 150th anniversary of the Jack Daniel Distillery in Lynchburg, Tennessee – a special milestone that is being celebrated with a global whiskey barrel hunt to find 150 handcrafted barrels located at historic and cultural sites across the world, including South Africa. This exciting global scavenger hunt leading Jack fans to buildings and landmarks in cities around the world needed a South African twist for the celebration here, at the tip of Africa.

As masters of their craft, Max Melvill and Jamil Randera are the talented duo that make up +NESS, illustrators whose subjects are architecture found around the cities of South Africa and beyond. Both qualified architects, it is Max and Jamil’s desire to tell the stories embedded within these buildings and the city fabric that inspires them to do what they do. The painstaking craftsmanship evidenced in their work and their extraordinary appreciation for buildings and the stories they represent, are what captured the interest of the folks at Jack Daniel’s to help tell the story of 150 years of whiskey-making at the Jack Daniel Distillery – the first registered distillery in the U.S.




A handcrafted hunt

As part of the global scavenger hunt, two authentic Jack Daniel’s barrels were shipped to South Africa – one for Joburg and one for Cape Town and the locations of these were top secret. Fans of Jack in both cities had to follow a series of clues to find them, and the incentive was enticing. Each barrel contained tickets for all-expenses paid trips to Lynchburg, Tennessee to be part of the 150th Distillery Anniversary celebration, and New York to learn more about the New York bar and American whiskey culture. With each barrel’s prizes valued at over R150,000 the race was on.

+NESS were commissioned to handcraft a special series of works that showcase the facades of different locations around the cities of Joburg and Cape Town, which formed the clues that ultimately uncovered the whereabouts of the two SA-based barrels.


“Celebrating a big global campaign locally needs to be handled with care. When the focus is an iconic global brand like Jack Daniel’s, the challenge becomes even greater. The brand’s identity and the guiding principles by which Jack Daniel’s lives and breathes need to translate into every market, but with a distinctive local flavour that connects with the people there,” says Megan MacNab, Jack Daniel’s Marketing Manager.

In 1866, Jasper “Jack” Daniel had the foresight to place his distillery at a source of limestone water flowing from a cave spring in Lynchburg. Jack Daniel’s has been at the forefront of whiskey-making ever since. Incredibly, in the 150 years of the Jack Daniel Distillery, the distilling process has largely remained unchanged and craftsmanship has never been compromised. Jack Daniel’s is the only major distillery in the world to make its own barrels.

Comprising 33 separate American White Oak staves held together by the sheer pressure of the wood’s precise arrangement alone, the task is far too meticulous to be carried out on an automated assembly line. From this exactitude of carefully crafting each barrel to mellowing each drop of whiskey through 10 feet of sugar maple charcoal, Jack Daniel’s Tennessee Whiskey is made with the same process pioneered and perfected by Mr. Jack himself. Today, the quiet town of Lynchburg still produces every single drop of the world’s Jack Daniel’s, proof that mastering a craft with a focus on quality can propel a brand beyond borders and across cultures.


Celebrating 150 years of whiskey-making, Mzansi style

The successful Jack Daniel’s barrel hunters in Joburg made it to the legendary Kippies, one of Joburg’s most famous jazz venues and the final destination for the scavenger hunt. Situated in Newtown, well-loved Sipho ‘Hotstix’ Mabuse is said to have quipped that as an aspiring musician, when you walk onto the stage at Kippies for your first set, you know you have made it. Newtown offers a unique insight into the development of Joburg and modern South Africa. It is the source of social, political, industrial, artistic and cultural trends that have come to be associated with Joburg’s evolution. Today Kippies is a heritage site and a key part of the richly textured cultural legacy that make the Newtown story so compelling.

Meanwhile, the final Cape Town destination was a location that has been associated with popular culture since 1935. Jack Lemkus, situated in the Exchange Building in St Georges Mall, Cape Town CBD was the first company in South Africa to build relationships with brands such as Nike, adidas and Vans. The enormously popular street wear store is regarded as theplace to shop for the biggest names in sneakers. The building in which it is situated, as with most old bulidings, comes with colourful stories including an underground vault that is said to have once contained untold treasure.

+NESS believe that buildings are really full of life and have an undeniable power to make us feel. They believe that a building’s atmosphere can imbue a profound influence on us. This is how they personify the spirit or ‘NESS’ of a building. They split each series into three parts: all the buildings they choose either have historical significance, cultural relevance or in some way help define the respective city’s skyline.

“The Jack Daniel’s commission has been a fascinating process for us. A lot of what both +NESS and Jack stand for ultimately boils down to craftsmanship and storytelling. Because we are ultimately trying to uncover the essence, soul, or ‘+NESS’ of a particular building in each one of our artworks, each project presents it own unique challenges that are tied up in their own unique stories,” comment Melvill and Randera of +NESS.


The Jack Daniel Distillery – the spirit of Jack

As the first registered distillery in the U.S, Jack Daniel’s has grown from a local name in Lynchburg to an iconic global brand by remaining true to its legacy of authenticity, independence and integrity. The winners of the barrel hunt in South Africa –Michelle Joyze Morrow from Joburg and Alecia Fortuin from Cape Town – will be lucky enough to travel to Lynchburg, Tennessee with 947’s Anele Mdoda and KFM’s Rob Vember next month to experience the world-famous Jack Daniel Distillery for themselves.

Visit Daniel’s Tennessee Whiskey.

For more information on the global Jack Daniel’s Barrel Hunt, official rules and regulations, and details on locations and dates, visit


To learn more about Jack Daniel’s and the Jack Daniel Distillery’s 150th anniversary, visit


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