Having managed to sleep through the sound of landing planes, we swiftly left the Thrifty Inn and headed off to see Jack. Who’s Jack I hear you say? Let me remind you…
Like Kentucky is home of Colonel Sanders and his KFC empire, Tennessee is home to Jack Daniel and his famous Whiskey. The distillery is in a small town called Lynchburg, which was conveniently on the way to our next destination in the state. Lynchburg is actually a dry county so we weren’t officially able to taste or buy any alcohol at the distillery, but they’d managed to find a way round this. They sold commemorative glass bottle, which just so happened to be filled with the hard stuff. You could even do a tasting tour but I haven’t worked out how they managed to get away with that one.
With a long drive ahead of us, we settled for just going on the free tour of the distillery without the tasting. First we got to hang out in the museum whilst we waited for our tour to begin. We read that Jack actually started making moonshine when he was 7 years old after leaving his family to stay with his friend, a local preacher. When the church found out that their preacher was into the moonshine business he was forced to choose between the two. Luckily for Jack, he decided to sell and Mr Daniels bought the distillery at around 15 years old.
When our number was called we all made our way outside to meet our guide. The distillery makes the JD exactly the same way that Jack did back in the 1800’s. It is made from barley, rye and corn and mixed with the natural spring water that runs down from the mountains into a cave that is on the distillery grounds. Lucky for them the cave has never run dry of water. Not sure what they would do if it did!
Once this ‘mush’ is made they then ‘mellow’ it through some charcoal. They make their own charcoal by burning locally grown Maple Sugar trees in their outdoor furnace. They even have their own fire brigade on site in case the fire gets out of control.
We got to see some of the whiskey mellowing in the coals. At this point it is still a clear liquid and when our guide lifted the lid to give us all a whiff – wow were we hit with it! It made you slightly dizzy it was so strong.
The last step in the process is to pour the strong stuff into oak barrels and store them for about 3 years. The barrels are only used once and when they are finished with they go onto other places such as Louisiana to store Tabasco sauce in and Scotland to make Scotch whiskey! Who knew!
Once we finished the tour we ended up in the gift shop where they were selling the commemorative bottles. I never knew there were so many different types of Jack Daniels. They had Winter Jack, which is a cider and whiskey blend. Fire Tennessee, which has cinnamon liquor in it and even different flavoured punches to name a few. We took a look around but all the bottles were really big and as we still haven’t managed to get through all the port we bought in Australia, we passed on making a purchase.