Jack Daniel’s Distillery Lynchburg
There are only three ingredients in Jack Daniel’s liquor: corn, barley, and rye.
If you’re ever had a Jack Daniels induced hangover, natural ingredients are not what you’d expect in this bourbon whiskey.
Thankfully, a JD hangover isn’t something I’ve ever experienced. North Nomad, on the other hand, has been intimately acquainted with several during his adult years.
And it’s North Nomad’s love of Jack Daniels that brings us to the Lynchburg Distillery. The oldest registered distillery in the United States is located in the smallest county in Lynchburg, Tennessee. Aside from the sampling at the Jack Daniels factory, there’s no drinking in Moore County. The entire county is dry.
If you wish to do a sample tour, it is $10 per person, plus tax. It runs for one hour and 45 minutes, and you can sample three types of Jack Daniels whiskeys. Though you do need to be 21-years-old — the drinking age in the United States.
We do the free tour. My stomach can’t handle the thought of bourbon whiskey during the daytime.
The tour will take us through each stage of the production process: barrel creation, sour mash fermentation, charcoal mellowing, and maturation. It starts outdoors, and runs for one hour and 10 minutes.
Lush green grass and enormous trees lead to an outdoor furnace. Crates are stacked outside the furnace. These are the sugar maple stacks that are drenched in Jack Daniels Old No.7, and then set alight in the furnace. The resulting charcoal is used in the whiskey mellowing process. The original firetrucks are parked next to the furnace. Though, we are reassured that not one barrel has been lost to a fire!
The “Hollow”, a subterranean cave spring, is our next stop. The water in this cave sits around 56 degrees Fahrenheit all year around. The limestone rock removes iron from the water and gives the Jack Daniels a clean taste (North Nomad may agree, but “clean” is not something I’d say to describe whiskey). We pass the original JD’s statue. He’s a cute 5 foot 2, like me.
We’re led through the office administration house where Jack worked, and we see the antique combination safe that caused his death. No, it didn’t fall on him. He kicked it out of spite and his toe became gangrenous, eventually causing his death. We’re shown the three natural ingredients in Jack Daniels – corn, barley and rye.
Outside the Distillery building, our guide warns us not to take any photos. The flash could cause something to spark, and that’s a risk because the contents of the entire building are highly flammable.
Inside the building, it’s hot and the machinery is thunderously loud. The sour mash of corn, rye and barley malt is made in large, steel fermenting vats. At the behest of our tour guide, we lean in to look at and smell the sour mash. I understand now why it has its name “sour mash”. One loud, large woman continues to take photos and seems rather put out when the guide politely asks her (several times) to stop because of the risk. There’s always one on every tour, isn’t there?
The next building is where the charcoal mellowing process occurs. The whiskey drips through 10 feet of charcoal. Gentleman Jack is processed twice. Our guide opens the vat to the Gentleman Jack and gives us a whiff. It’s enough to knock out a horse. The vapour alone feels like enough to get you wasted.
The barrel house is chilly and musty smelling, like an old cupboard. This is where the whiskey matures for four to seven years.
At the end of the tour, we’re encouraged to have some of the free lemonade that’s on offer, and to see the sights of tiny Lynchburg.
Strolling into town, we see a bed and breakfast reminiscent of something from Cabin In The Woods. I’m a little concerned about whether we’ll come back…
What’s your favourite type of drink? Have you done a tour for your favourite liquor?
Location: 182 Lynchburg Highway, Lynchburg, Tennessee, 37352.
Tour difficulty: Easy, but there are steps inside the buildings.
Tour days and times: Daily, 9:00AM to 4:30PM
Cost: The main tour is free. The sampling tour is $10 per person, plus tax.
Parking: Plentiful. There’s room for coach and RV parking.