I’ve never been a whiskey sipping type of girl. I wish I was. Mix it with anything for me, please. I never truly put much thought into or appreciated the craft and process that whiskey goes through before it gets to the bar. And now I can only speak for Jack Daniels, but his whiskey puts in werk to get to where it sits in your tumbler today.
Last week in Lynchburg, Tennessee I had the fascinating experience of taking a tasting tour (in a dry county) of the ONE and ONLY Jack Daniel’s distillery in the entire world. That’s right folks, all of that Jack sitting pretty in bars in practically every country in the world ALL comes out of this one little still, nestled by a cave spring, in the low mountains of southern Tennessee, in a dry county. Lynchburg is a charming little town, very quaint and picturesque. The morning we rolled into town it was cold enough that steam was rolling off the top of the distillery. I love that.
The regular tour is free, but of course I wasn’t going to go all this way and not taste any whiskey, so we paid our $10 and joined the tasting tour (they have special dry county liquor permissions, apparently). For only $10, you get a lot of information provided in non-yawn-inducing anecdotes telling the history behind the place. For example, we learned that Jack was 7 years old when he first started making whiskey and 16 when he found the natural cave spring in Lynchburg he wanted to use to make his own brand of whiskey. I couldn’t help but think this was probably the reason he died in his early sixties and only grew to be a little over 5 feet tall, but that’s just me. He has a true rags to riches story, which is inspiring and a testament to his hard work that his brand still lives on today as one of the most recognizable.
The sustainability of the distillery surprised me. They use Tennessee sugar maple from surrounding woods, let it season outside, then burn it down into charcoal right there to be used to distill the whiskey. Basically, the raw whiskey (a 3 grain recipe) has to drip drop by drop through 4 feet of small charcoal bits to remove all the impurities. It takes 5 days for one drop to make it the bottom of the barrel. Jack has over 80 barrel houses nestled into the forested hills, each 7 stories tall, each holding thousands of white oak barrels. These specially seasoned and fire roasted, hand made barrels hold the whiskey after the distilling process, while it “matures”. All of Jack’s whiskey goes through the same process, with a just a few tweaks to make things interesting. For example, single barrel whiskey is not mixed together with any other barrels during bottling, resulting in a slightly different flavor.
I don’t want to give away all of the secrets, you should just go for yourself. Make sure to pay the little extra for the special tasting tour, it was a great warm up on a cold day. We ended the day with lunch at the Bar-B-Que Caboose Cafe on the town square, a cute little train themed BBQ joint with a good pulled pork sandwich. I also boarded my dog at a local vet while we were out exploring, and she had a fabulous time. I highly recommend the Lynchburg Veterinary Hospital and their gorgeous antebellum office.
Go see Jack:
182 Lynchburg Highway
Lynchburg, TN 37352
Going to pour one out for Jack, Am