Did you know that Lynchburg, Tennessee is home to the world-famous whiskey brand, Jack Daniel’s? I’m sure the majority of you have heard of Jack Daniel’s but probably only a small percentage know the history of this beverage and where it all started. If you are in the vicinity of Nashville, Tennessee and are intrigued to learn more about “Jack”, why not head south to the quirky town of Lynchburg and take an awesome Jack Daniels Distillery tour to learn more.
Jack Daniel’s is not only a world-famous whiskey brand, it is a product that is available in more than 165 countries around the globe. We chose a pretty iconic year to visit the distillery in Lynchburg given that 2016 is the 150th anniversary of the Jack Daniel’s brand.
History of Jack Daniel’s
It all started in 1866 when Jasper “Jack” Daniel had the ambitious and somewhat crazy idea of establishing a distillery at a source of limestone water flowing from a cave spring in Lynchburg, Tennessee.
Proof that mastering a craft with a focus on quality can propel a brand beyond borders and across cultures.
It’s interesting to note that 150 years later, the original process of distilling Jack Daniel’s whiskey has been maintained and the most astounding fact is that Lynchburg is still the only location that produces every single drop of Jack Daniel’s that is served around the world. The above excerpt is without doubt applicable to the unique craft of distilling every “bottle of Jack.”
Today we are all reaping the rewards of Jasper Daniel’s efforts to create a seamless, efficient process that creates the perfect bottle of whiskey.
Before heading on the tour, I will openly admit that I have never been a huge fan of whiskey but after experiencing the “tasting room” and learning about why Lynchburg is such an important location, I have certainly been introduced to a couple of flavors that I can’t wait to try more of.
Where is Lynchburg, Tennessee?
Located 73 miles south of Nashville, you could be forgiven for thinking that Lynchburg, Tennessee is located in the middle of nowhere. In all honesty, you would be correct because there isn’t much else going on around this town in the southern half of the state.
Actually getting to Lynchburg isn’t all that easy either. You can head south on I-24 to Murfreesboro and then take Tennessee highways but it’s just one of those places that you have to make the effort to reach because you will be rewarded once you get there. If you are visiting Nashville and don’t have access to a car, consider taking one of the seasonal tours that take visitors to the Jack Daniel’s Distillery.
If you are planning to visit the Jack Daniel’s Distillery, tours are available daily between 9:00AM and 4:30PM with only a couple of exceptions (Thanksgiving Day, Christmas Eve, Christmas Day and New Year’s Day). Tickets can be bought in person only as they are not available online.
There are a number of tour options available depending on how much time you intend on spending in Lynchburg and exactly how much you want to experience on the Jack Daniels Distillery Tour. Here are the alternatives and associated admission fees:
- Mr. Jack Toast in the Hollow Tour – If your time is limited in Lynchburg, why not hop on a shuttle bus and take a tour of the town square and through Distillery Hollow with the knowledge that a sample of the famous “Jack” is waiting for you at the end. Duration – 30 Minutes; Price – $13
- Dry County Tour – If you are intrigued to learn about the history of Jack Daniel’s without actually sampling this fine drink, this will be the perfect tour for you. You can learn all about how this drink is perfectly crafted though perhaps you will regret not having the opportunity to try it for yourself (just saying folks!) Duration – 70 Minutes; Price – $14
- The Flight of Jack Daniel’s Tour – This was the tour we experienced and in our opinion, it offers the best of both world’s. You get the full guided tour through the distillery and at the end you can experience a sampling of five Jack Daniel’s flavors. Duration – 90 Minutes; Price – $17
- The Angel’s Share Tour – If you are interested in an authentic tasting experience directly from a barrel, this is definitely a tour worth considering. Visitors will experience the full guided tour through the distillery, in addition to several samplings at Barrel House 1-14. Duration – 90 Minutes; Price – $22
- The Taste of Lynchburg – For those of you interested in the full experience of visiting Lynchburg, this is a great tour option. Visitors will enjoy samplings of Jack along with a guided tour of the distillery, in addition to lunch with your tour guide at Miss Mary Bobo’s Boarding House Restaurant. Duration – 180 Minutes; Price – $75
Jack Daniels Distillery Tour
The Flight of Jack Daniel’s Tour started at the visitor center where we all boarded the shuttle bus along with our awesome tour guide.
A short drive took us through the quirky town square of Lynchburg where our guide pointed out some of the best spots to explore along with some of her favorite restaurants that she recommended we sample after the tour.
We headed into Distillery Hollow through the security gates and shortly after the bus came to a halt, we embarked on our journey through the Jack Daniel’s experience on foot. Our guide started at the very beginning with the area that the charcoal is stored.
This is an integral part of the process as the combination of malt, barley and rye are filtered through these stacks of charcoal to create the perfect blend.
We passed by a couple of the historic Jack Daniel’s fire trucks which certainly brought a sense of history to the occasion as you realize how much has changed in recent years.
A short walk over to the iconic limestone spring cave provided a moment of respite from the steaming hot conditions and our tour guide took some time to share how Lynchburg’s greatest natural resource became the focal point of the Jack Daniel’s legacy.
Why was this such a key component in the process? Because the water was crystal clear and pure, clean spring water ensuring that no impurities would impact the perfect glass of Jack Daniel’s.
How to Produce the Perfect Drink?
The Jack Daniel’s process is unique and an efficient way to create a drink that is recognized all around the world. There are various stages that combine to create the amazing Jack Daniel’s beverage that we all love today. We were fortunate to experience each of these processes during our tour of the Jack Daniels distillery.
As I mentioned, one of the key ingredients in creating the perfect glass of Jack is the maple charcoal. In order to create this charcoal, three times each week (three times per day), pallets of hard sugar maple are stacked and burned to create smoldering embers and subsequently charcoal pellets that are used in the filtration process.
Fire is certainly destructive. But for Jack Daniel’s, the smoothness of our whiskey depends on it. (Jackdaniels.com)
Our journey continued from the spring cave through a small building that was home to Jack Daniel’s office. This is also where pictures of the seven master distillers can be seen (that’s right, only 7 individuals have had this title over the past 150 years). Today, Jeff Arnett is the 7th master distiller and has been since 2008.
We passed through the still house to learn about how the ‘mash’ is created from the barley, rye, and malt.
The filtration process was also shown to us as the mash slowly filters through the charcoal embers.
We had the opportunity to smell the amazing aromas released from the large barrels as our guide briefly lifted the lid. Unfortunately, this was one of the areas that no photography was allowed but our guide gave us plenty of notice about this.
Be careful walking down the steps because you can certainly taste the alcohol in the back of your throat just from a quick smell of this iconic drink being filtered through the charcoal.
The final part of the process is the barreling stage which is yet another home-grown process that makes Jack Daniel’s unique among its competitors.
The barrels used to store Jack Daniel’s are more than just a container.
The barrels help create the taste we all associate with a glass of Jack as the wood’s natural sugars add to the overall flavor. American white oak is used to create these barrels that are made ‘in-house’ by expert coopers.
Did you know that Jack Daniel’s whiskey enters a barrel completely colorless? But when you pour that perfect glass, it’s a beautiful amber and this is because of the caramelization process inside the barrel.
People frequently want to know how long it takes for this process to take place. There is no simple answer and it depends solely on climatic conditions, only time will tell how long it takes to create the perfect drink.
The Tasting Room
The final stop of the tour is understandably the moment that the majority of visitors are waiting for – the tasting room.
We were fortunate to experience the opening of a brand new tasting room and have the opportunity to try the following five iconic flavors.
- Gentleman Jack
- Old No.7
- Single Barrel
- Tennessee Honey
- Tennessee Fire
Our guide gave us step by step directions on the best way to experience each drink and of course, it’s personal preference as to which taste we all preferred.
I was intrigued by the taste of both Tennessee Honey and Tennesse Fire but for the traditionalists, Old No.7 is the most iconic of all Jack Daniel’s blends.
A visit to the Jack Daniels Distillery tour in Lynchburg is an amazing experience that we can highly recommend to anyone visiting Tennessee.
It’s no surprise to see visitors from all corners of the globe traveling to this town in the heart of a dry county (it’s just weird saying that when one of the world’s leading alcoholic manufacturers is based here) to explore the history of Jack Daniel’s.
We were incredibly fortunate to share this experience with our friend Dave, who traveled all the way from England on a statewide journey.
We spent time in Nashville and it was one of his goals to visit Lynchburg to fully appreciate the ‘once in a lifetime experience’ at the Jack Daniel’s Distillery. Thanks Dave for making this such an awesome and ‘eventful’ adventure!
Have you experienced the Jack Daniels Distillery Tour? What other similar tours have you taken around the world that you can recommend?