A brief stop to pay homage to a national iconic drinks brand – and not a drop passed our lips!
On our road trip through Tennessee we decided, or at least I decide, to stop at the town of Lynchburg. Apart from being a quaint little town, Lynchburg is famous as the home of the Jack Daniels, the famous Tennessee whiskey house. Fortunately, we arrived just in time for the last tour of the day. We have done a few factory tours on journeys around the USA, primarily as educational visits for our children, Jack and Emily, but also because they were child friendly, such as the Cape Cod Chip factory in Hyannis and Ben & Jerry’s ice cream plant in Vermont. I could not excuse this stop as educational, although I did learn quite a lot. This was definitely one for the adults!
|133 Lynchburg Highway, Lynchburg, TN||9AM – 4:30PM CST||1hr 10 minutes: $15:00|
The other tours we have had were also a little disappointing in the sense that they were short and quite sterile as you mainly got to see things from behind big glass windows. Not this tour. Firstly, we were taken to the yard where they burn the wood to make the charcoal; which is what they pass the whiskey through to add body. Then we got to go inside the cave where the water flows from the limestone hills of Tennessee. The next stop was an old building that was Jack Daniel’s office. In this office sat the safe that killed Jack – he kicked in rage one day, breaking his toe which led to septicemia ; resulting in the loss of his leg and finally, his death a few years later.
The final stops of the tour are inside the main part of the distillery, where you get to see the mash fermenting in huge vats (which does not smell or look good). After this process the liquid, which is now 140 percent alcohol, is passed across charcoal, this step is the one that determines the nuanced flavor of the final whiskey. This was my favorite part of the tour as the smell emanating from the vats was delicious, even at this early stage of the maturing process. After this, the whiskey is put into kegs and sent to be stored and aged. We were taken through one of the storage buildings full to the gunnels with barrels of maturing Jack Daniels whiskey. Amusingly, Morre County, in which Lynchburg is situated, is a dry county, so you cannot find any bars or retailers that sell alcohol (sounds not a place I’d like to live) and yet you find a whiskey distillery here. In fact Jack Daniels had 75 storage houses, each with about 20,000 barrels in them, within the Lynchburg area. This equates to 360 million bottles stored in what is a dry county. As I was driving imbibing whiskey was off my menu for the day anyway so I had to be satisfied with just inhaling to the intoxicating fumes. I had to hope that these didn’t leech into my blood system!
We took the dry county tour – but there are tour options that do include some whiskey tasting.