|The Welcome Center at Jack Daniel Distillery has a collection of old bottles.|
The place is huge, so big that there are shuttle buses circling the parking lots to drive you to the Visitor Center if you don’t want to hoof it.
The grounds are lovely this time of year. Everything is lush and green with flowers blooming and half whiskey barrels overflowing with blossoms and vines. Stone fences surround much of the property and were beautiful to see.
Jack Daniel Distillery established in 1866, is on the National Register of Historic Places. Those that work their are proud of that heritage and are happy to share stories of Jack and his legacy.
|These barrels can only be used once for making whiskey.|
We opted to take a 1½ hour guided tour through the distillery and to see the operation in progress while listening to some of those historic stories.
Tours begin at the Visitor Center where we purchased tickets for a Flight of Jack experience. There are some interesting displays to look at while waiting for your tour to begin. There are cabinets of old style bottles, a variety of vintage Jack Daniel merchandise and explanations of the distilling process.
|The color of whiskey changes as it ages|
We met our tour guide Leslie and climbed onto a bus for a ride to “the top of the hill”.
Leslie was charming and enthusiastic full of stories about the history of the distillery and about making whiskey.
The top of the hill is where wood is cut and dried before being turned into charcoal. Hard sugar maple pallets are burned here 3 days a week to be used in the filtering process.
There are vintage fire trucks near by, a reminder that whiskey making is a very flammable process.
|Fred and the Vintage REO Speedwagon Firetruck|
Leslie led us to a cave with a spring, the source of all of the water that goes into Jack Daniel's whiskey. We learned that Jack Daniel grew up learning how to make whiskey and by the age of 16 had founded his own distillery using the water from Cave Spring Hollow. Leslie told us that in whiskey making water is everything and that the limestone in this cave filters iron from the water while imparting other trace minerals.
We walked through the office where Jack Daniel worked and where he reportedly kicked a safe in frustration because he couldn’t get it to open. That injury and the resulting infection would eventually take his life. Leslie was delighted to show us a picture of Jack Daniel. She reported that he was no taller than her own 5 ft 2 inches but that his big personality and manner of dress made him an impressive figure.
|Cave Spring Hollow, the source of all water for Jack Daniels Whiskey|
We walked upstairs and into a filter house where enormous vats of hand crafted sugar maple charcoal give Tennessee whiskey their “extra blessing”. Every drop of Jack Daniel Whiskey spends 2 weeks in a charcoal mellowing vat before finding its way to the barrel. The smell was amazing. We were told that this charcoal filtering process also called the “Lincoln County Process” is the difference between whiskey and bourbon.The Single Barrel Select was stellar and both of us enjoyed it the most. I did not care for the flavored whiskies although Fred enjoyed the Tennessee Honey. We left the White Rabbit store with a bottle of White Rabbit because you can only buy it in Tennessee.
We toured a barrel house where 7 floors of barrels rest and wait for the perfect time to open them. Barrel house climates are not controlled. Top floors are hotter than bottom floors. Inside rooms are cooler than outside walls. Jack Daniel Distillery does not move the barrels once they are placed The blending of those varied barrels by a master distiller is what makes a consistent product. Master Distillers also choose which barrels are perfect all on their own and earn a designation of single barrel select.
Our tour ended with a treat. We sampled 5 different whiskies. Gentleman Jack, Old No. 7, Single Barrel Select, Tennessee Honey and Tennessee Fire.
|The Lynchburg General Store now sells Jack Daniel Merchandise|
|Fred with Gentleman Jack.|
133 Lynchburg Highway
open daily 9-4:30