Tuesday, April 13, 2021

Visiting Jack Daniels Distillery in Lynchburg, TN


Finally, I made it to Tennessee on a long drive from Canada to the Panhandle of Florida. It was not easy to navigate to the small hamlet of Lynchburg, TN, and to find parking in their very dusty, unpaved parking lot. I couldn’t believe that about 275,000 people per year would tour the Jack Daniel's distillery. Where on earth are they all parking? 

I walked over with my dog Bentley to purchase my ticket.  Two employees stopped me.  I told them that this is a service dog and pointed to his badge.  No, they said, the dog is perfectly fine, but no one can enter carrying a handbag. I looked puzzled.  “But I need my small purse to have money and credit card handy!”  Their answer: “Please leave it in your trunk, and take only the money with you.”  Grumbling I walked back to my car and hid my handbag under the seat.  

I purchased a ticket for a tour including tasting.  Why I took this whiskey distillery tour?  And not only this one, but distilleries during my trip, everywhere I find one?  My mother owned a brandy distillery when I was a kid back in Europe.  So my interest is home-grown.  I am still mad at her that she let her license expire without telling me.  I would have loved to operate it in the third generation. 

The guided tour group strolled through the old brick buildings with the huge distillery equipment.  Bentley was a good boy and climbed the steep stairs to the upper part of the fabrication rooms.  I learned that the distillery also produces its own barrels — which are only used once and then sold. 

They also make their own charcoal in an old building nestled in a tree-shaded hollow.  Later, when we entered the tasting room, I “parked” Bentley in a corner from where he could see me.  We tasted four different whiskey types. Two whiskeys were too sweet for my liking, one was too harsh, the one that tasted best was the one that is longest produced at Jack Daniels.

Jack Daniels History

In the 1850s, when Daniel was an orphaned boy, he went to work for a preacher, grocer, and distiller named Dan Call.  That’s where he learned distilling from Mr. Call and distiller Nathan “Nearest” Green, a slave who continued to work for Call after emancipation.  He learned to make whiskey using the “sour mash” method and how to filter whiskey through charcoal, which was common at the time.  Other distillers would abandon the process for time and financial reasons, but it became a staple of Daniel’s final product. 

Daniel used his inheritance from his father’s estate to found a legally registered distilling business in 1875.  He purchased the hollow and land in 1884 where the Jack Daniel’s Distillery is still located today. Known as “Stillhouse Hollow” or “Jack Daniel’s Hollow”, the property includes a cave at the base of a limestone cliff. 

The funny thing was: Moore County, the home of the Jack Daniel Distillery, is still a ‘dry’ county to this day.  None of Jack Daniel’s whiskey may be sold or publicly drunken in Moore County.  State law provided one exception, however.  A distillery may sell one commemorative product from its gift shop. And this gift shop was stocked with Whiskey bottles from floor to ceiling.  People bought like crazy to bring home the famous product.  Me too : )




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