Did Jack Daniel really die after kicking his safe?

Born in Lynchburg, Tennessee, in either 1846, 1849, or 1850, Jasper Newton Daniel, better known as Jack Daniel, was a distiller who created the iconic Jack Daniel’s Tennessee whiskey brand.

One of the most notorious stories associated with Jack is that, in a fit of rage, he kicked his safe, which led to a toe infection that eventually took his life. Jack Daniel’s website mentions this story and states, “After arriving at work early and unable to open his safe, Jack kicks it out of frustration and breaks his toe. The injury worsens and will eventually take his life.” The Jack Daniel’s Distillery tour features this story along with the actual safe and tour guides have been known to state that if Jack had simply dipped his infected toe into some of his whiskey, he could have saved himself.

Jack Daniel's Safe

Jack Daniel’s Safe

So did Jack Daniel really die after kicking his safe?

According to author Peter Krass, who wrote Daniel’s 2004 biography Blood & Whiskey: The Life and Times of Jack Daniel, Jack Daniel didn’t die after kicking his safe. While he had fits of rage towards the safe (it was well known that he always had trouble remembering his combination), the safe kicking incident happened years before Jack died and it was completely unrelated to what ultimately claimed his life: complications from gangrene.


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