This is the second time that we have visited Jack Daniel´s Distillery. I am a big fan of JD. Lynchburg, Tennessee is actually a dry town. The only place that you can purchase alcohol is at the distillery and only because it is considered a souvenir. This works well for Jack Daniels because they have no one to compete with for purchases. The distillery has a big parking lot and you can take a shuttle to the distillery or into town from there. You can also walk, but it was very hot when we were there, so we took the shuttle into town.
There is a general store there with all kinds of Jack Daniels merchandise. I had purchased earrings the last time we were there and I lost one. I was hoping to get another pair, but they do not sell them anymore. I was sad, but I bought a t shirt for myself and a hat for my dad. If you make a purchase over $10 and have a ticket for a distillery tour, they will give you a shot glass for free. (Most stores in town honor this deal, not just the general store.) We walked around to several stores looking for earrings (at the suggestion of different shop keepers), but did not find any. We walked from town to the the distillery.
After checking into our tour, which we purchased online, we wandered around and looked at the displays and in the souvenir store. Right before our tour was ready to leave, it started raining really hard. Of course, they immediately offered ponchos and umbrellas for purchase. I bought an umbrella, which I think is a better deal because I can use it forever and it says Jack Daniels all over it (unlike the ponchos which are basically garbage bags that say JD).
The amazing thing about Jack Daniel´s Distillery is that ALL the JD in the world is made right there. There are barrelhouses filled with millions of barrels of JD. It is pretty amazing to witness. The first place that the tour takes you is where they make the charcoal that they use in the distilling process. There are a couple of guys who set fire to pallets with whiskey as a fire starter, let it burn to a certain degree that only they understand, and they rake through it so it is at the correct size for the whiskey to drip through. I love that they create the charcoal themselves, making sure it is exactly how they want it.
You walk down the hill to enter the refreshing coolness of the spring that started it all. Jack Daniel found this water to be the special ingredient to his distilling process. The funny thing is that you can’t drink this water anywhere but in the whiskey. The tour guide said they bottled it at one time, but it was not worth the effort for the profit they made. I bet that would be different if they tried it again today.
Then you visit Jack Daniel´s office. This office is important because it is where you can still see the safe that caused his death. Did it fall on him? No. He kicked it when he couldn’t get it open and broke his toe, which turned into an infection, which he ignored and he had to get it amputated. The infection traveled through his body and eventually killed him. The reason he could not get the safe open was because his assistant usually did it for him and that day he went to work early and tried to do it himself. The tour guide usually makes some jokes here about the lesson is to never go to work early.
The bulk of the rest of the tour cannot be recorded with photos or video. You get to visit several sections where it is distilled. In one section, in which the CO2 is released, they offer you to take a small sniff of it. Both Jef and I took a bigger sniff than necessary and starting coughing. It hurt! The guide told us that once he witnessed a guy who inhaled too deeply and fainted. The rest of our group watched us and then waved the smell in front of their nose. You learn from your mistakes, right? There is another section in which you can smell the giant barrel and it has the sweet whiskey smell. They also take you through a bottling section, which is for those people who buy single barrels. One barrel produces over 200 bottles and they are bottled special for you.
At the end of the tour, you get your tasting. We did the Angel tour and therefore tasted some specialty whiskeys. If you are a real whiskey drinker, this is the tour for you. It was a bit too strong for us. There are several bottles that are not available for purchase, which was a let down for several people on our tour. Next time, we will do the tour with the normal samples that you can find in the liquor store. It is more our speed.
If you are a big fan of JD, I would highly suggest a visit to the distillery. They give you an excellent tour and you learn a lot about their process and why it is such a good whiskey. On a side note, while we were in the Lynchburg General Store we found some very unique furniture made from used whiskey barrels. (Jack Daniels only uses the barrels once. They are then sent to other distilleries in other countries and even the Tabasco plant for use.) Since JD makes their own barrels on site, it is pretty cool that they also create some use for it in your home. They are not expensive either. We bought four bar stools and they cost less than ones on Wayfair that were manufactured. The only problem is that you can only buy these in the store or call them to order if you know the stock numbers. We got the numbers and called from home. They smelled like whiskey when they arrived. We love them.