The story goes that after enjoying too much Jack Daniel’s whiskey, the hotel’s general manager and a hunting friend loosed their live decoy ducks in the lobby fountain back in 1933.
These days, the hotel’s flock of one drake and four hens still parades twice daily on a red carpet. Anthony Petrina currently holds the covetable title of Duckmaster, directing the march. Typically, after three months of star treatment the mallards retire to the local farm that sources them.
To make the transfer official, Duckmaster Petrina turned over his flock to Jack Daniel’s master distiller Jeff Arnett in a final parade ceremony.
Typically, that is, until last year, when five fortunate fowl were appropriately sent to the Jack Daniel’s Distillery in nearby Lynchburg. There, they joined a larger flock of Daniel’s ducks, pecking up dropped grain and partaking of the limestone cave spring water also used for the distillery’s world-famous sour mash. To make the transfer official, Duckmaster Petrina turned over his flock to Jack Daniel’s master distiller Jeff Arnett in a final parade ceremony.
By all accounts, the first round of retirees is well-adjusted. “They’ve really integrated well with the ducks already in Lynchburg,” said Jill Meyer, a representative of Jack Daniels. “By now, it’s difficult to tell which duck’s which.”
Though not all animals that live at distilleries arrive as pampered as the Peabody ducks, stories of special brewery and distillery guests aren’t altogether uncommon. Just two years ago, the Chivas Brothers in Dumbarton, Scotland, retired the gaggle of geese they’d bought during the 1950s for security against would-be whiskey burglars. More recently, the Vermont rye whiskey distillery Whistlepig has been raising Mangalista pigs on their farm.
With such stories, we’d almost hope for reincarnation as a Jack Daniel’s duck. But in this life, at least there’s whiskey.
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