Is a Whiskey-Motorcycle Collaboration a Good Idea?

The introduction of the Indian Jack Daniel's Edition Scout Bobber raises some questions that are worth addressing.

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As you may have heard if you follow The Drive, Indian Motorcycle just unveiled a new variant of the Scout Bobber. It’s the Jack Daniel’s Edition and it’s inspired by the Jack Daniel’s Fire Brigade, a fully functional fire department just for the Jack Daniel’s distillery in Lynchburg, Tennessee. 

Only 177 examples will be built. This isn’t the first time the two iconic brands have gotten together, there has been a Jack Daniel’s/Indian Motorcycle collaboration every year since 2016. The Jack Daniel’s Bobber was extremely well-received considering it was sold out in less than 10 minutes when ordering opened on March 13.

I was fortunate enough to attend the live unveiling of the bike last month and I had a wonderful experience in Lynchburg. However, when I told people about it to brag about how great my job is, I got mixed reactions. People who were into motorcycles thought it was really cool, but some of the people I told about it who aren’t into bikes did a bit of a double take. When some people hear “Jack Daniel’s” and “motorcycle” in the same sentence, it gives them pause, and understandably so. That got me thinking, is a whiskey-motorcycle collaboration really a good idea?

It’s a little more complicated than a yes or no question. I think it requires starting with clarifying that in no way does Jack Daniel’s or Indian Motorcycle advocate driving while under the influence of the fine products that Jack Daniel’s produces or any other alcohol. In fact, it’s quite the opposite. Part of the 24-karat gold accents on the Jack Daniel’s Edition Scout Bobber is a reminder on the front fender that reads “Drive Responsibly: Bottles & Throttles Don’t Mix.”

While I was at the unveiling of the bike which took a full day including a tour of the distillery, I lost count of how many times I heard the “bottles and throttles don’t mix” mantra repeated. The good folks at Jack Daniel’s made an effort to make it overwhelmingly clear that not only do they not endorse drinking and riding, but they are strongly opposed to it. So much so that they put a reminder right on the bike.

Indian Motorcycle

“You don’t start drinking until you’ve hung up your leathers for the night,” said Dave Stang of Jack Daniel’s. No explanation is needed for why riding a motorcycle while drunk is a bad idea. But the Jack Daniel’s brand understands that putting its name on a motorcycle might raise a few eyebrows.

So why do such a collaboration? Why put the name of a liquor on a motorcycle at all? Because Jack Daniel’s and Indian Motorcycle are two brands that hold a special place in American history and they’re quite compatible with each other. Indian was America’s first motorcycle brand and Jack Daniel’s was the first registered distillery in the U.S. Both brands have loyal, passionate fans who don’t just want a good story, but quality products to back up the legacy.

Not to mention the marketing opportunity of the whole thing. It’s okay to like both Indian Motorcycles and Jack Daniel’s Tennessee whiskey, I count myself as one of those people. And I’m going to go out on a limb and assume that a lot of people who are interested in one brand are also interested in the other. But that doesn’t mean they think it’s okay to ride while drunk. You could have a full day of motorcycle riding followed by a full night of drinking (trust me on that) without ever mixing the two activities.

So, I believe the short answer is yes, a whiskey-motorcycle collaboration is okay. It becomes especially okay when both brands involved are vocal in their opposition to drunk riding, which is certainly the case here. And to put that message in writing on the bike itself might not be necessary, but it’s a great way to make it clear that these two wonderful, all-American brands can be enjoyed together, but only as long as the imbibing begins after the riding is complete.

Bottles and throttles might not mix, but Jack Daniel’s and Indian Motorcycle is a match made in heaven.