April 27, 2012

Gentleman Jack


After leaving Orlando following dinner Wednesday night and driving straight through, we arrived in Lynchburg, TN around 5am yesterday morning.  We rested a bit in the car and then started our “Tour de Whisky” before heading to our final destination of Nashville. 

Here are the highlights:




Lynchburg, containing one stoplight, is a quaint little town with lots of character.  It’s nickname, “The wettest little dry county” rings true even though it is home to the Jack Daniel’s Distillery and has been since 1866.





We started the day off right with breakfast at the Iron Kettle.  We definitely had “tourist” written all over us, but the locals loved hearing where we were from and why we were there.  They were very friendly and welcomed us with open arms.  We were the youngest people by about 50 years and they loved it.

My ham and cheese omelet with homemade biscuits was dee-lish and everybody else raved about their meals as well – we were ravenous.




The distillery, which is about a 1 minute drive from the town square opened at 9am.  We were there with the other early birds and were lucky enough to get the first tour of the day, which is always free to the public.




We learned tons of “Whisky History” and loved taking in the mountain air.




Jasper “Jack” Newton Daniel was only 5’2” and apparently quite the ladies man.  He died at the age of 61 a bachelor, and it’s said that there are two chairs placed by his grave to comfort the many local ladies who mourned his passing.









JD’s famous quote.



The distillery tour was very informative and enlightening.  They explained every step of the process and added a bit of humor along the way starting with the Rickyard.

After seven generations after Mr. Jack passed away, the distillery still mellows their whiskey the same way.

According to the website, the reason is simple:

It imparts a distinctive smoothness folks have come to expect from Jack Daniel's. Charcoal Mellowing makes Jack Daniel's what it is – a Tennessee Whiskey and not a Bourbon. It refines our whiskey's rich flavor even before we fully mature it in barrels of our own making. Yes, it's a painstaking process that demands extra attention and makes our whiskey a bit more costly to craft. But Mr. Jack wouldn't have it any other way. Neither would we. (source)




Every drop of whiskey starts in a new barrel, as none of the barrels are reused and are made on site by certified coopers.  There are no other JD distilleries in the world and every bottle is produced and aged in Lynchburg.  It’s pretty amazing when you think about it, especially when it takes 4-7 years for maturation.  Crazy.




According to their website, Jack Daniel’s Tennessee Whiskey is made with cool, pure, iron-free cave spring water from right here in the Hollow.

This water flows year-round at 800 gallons per minute at a constant temperature of 56° and is virtually iron free. It’s the reason why the Distillery was located in this spot originally – and why it’s remained there ever since. Just outside the cave you’ll find a statue of Jack Daniel. The man himself, standing guard over this prized spring. (source)

The cave was beautiful and has never gone dry in the history of the distillery.



Mr. Jack and the gang.




Our tour guide, Jesse James (yes I’m serious), is an official JD taste tester and left us with some important information:

Experience determines maturity. It’s what a whiskey experiences while inside the barrel and not simply how long it’s been there that gives it the rich color, character, and taste that we call mature.

Mellowing our whiskey through ten feet of sugar maple charcoal, crafting our own barrels, and placement in the barrelhouse—each contributes to how our whiskey matures.

Age by itself isn’t a reliable measure of a whiskey’s quality and character. Which is why our tasters tell us when the whiskey is ready. We judge its quality the same way you do – with a sip.  (source)




After the tour, we headed back to the Lynchburg General store for some souvenirs (koozies and ornaments) before hitting the road for “Nashvegas”. 


Happy Friday!

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