Sunday, March 17, 2013

Jack Daniel's Distillery Tour and Tasting

Destination: Lynchburg, Tennessee. A tour of the famous Jack Daniel's Distillery was long on our bucket list. Okay, so maybe we have more of a barrel list.

I love grown up field trips.

I'm not sure what we expected as we drove up  but a parking lot filled with cars wasn't it. As we walked toward the visitor center we marveled at the license plates from all over the country, sort of a drinker's Disney Land. Stepping inside we were surprised at the size of the building, the museum like atmosphere, and number of tourists. You can take a free tour or for $11.00 you can embark on a tasting tour. Guess which one we chose!

Sugar maple stacked in the rickyard

After watching a short film (use the bathroom now, there are none on the tour!) you have a group photo made and board a van which takes you up to the rick yard. Jack Daniel's makes their own charcoal and the process starts with sugar maple cuts of wood, stacked, aired out, and burned just the right amount to retain wood flavor without ending up with a pile of ash.

The tour then heads to the cave where water bubbles up from an underground spring.

"Every drop of Jack Daniel's ever made has come right out of this cave." ~Tour guide, Wes Cambell

The safe that killed Jack Daniels
Just a few steps away from the cave and statue of JD sets his house including the safe he kicked that broke his toe, that eventually led to his death.  A useful story to share with all the angry people you know. If they are really getting on your nerves you might just tell them you know where there is a safe they can kick.

I was unable to take photos inside any of the buildings (which are immaculate) but here's what you need to know about the distilling process:

It was a tasting tour!

 Trees located near the distillery, as well as rock, and sides of buildings are covered with what is called "still mold." A kind of mold that apparently enjoys alcohol vapors. If you are in the woods and see trees black with it, there is a still nearby. It was a low tech way the revenuers use to use.
 At the end of the tour you can enjoy some lemonade. The distillery sits in a dry county so they can't "sell" any whiskey here. They can however "give" it away. You can  taste a small portion on the tasting tour and buy a collectible "commemorative" bottle. They then "give" you the whiskey inside. Aren't they clever?

You've arrived!
I'd recommend this tour even if you are a teetotaler. The history is interesting, the location is beautiful and quaint, and if nothing else it's nice to see an American business that can never ship its operation overseas. There's only one place you can make Tennessee sour mash whiskey and that's in Tennessee.

The General in front of the entrance to the visitor's center.

I told you it was kind of like Disney Land!
Happy travels, y'all!
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