Jack & Coke
Lynchburg Travel Blog› entry 8 of 27 › view all entries
July 1st, 2008 – by: jsfarv
Lebanon, TN (to Lynchburg, TN and back)
9:30 / 68â / Cool and relaxing â slightly breezy
After sleeping in, taking a 45-minute walk throughout the park and having a relaxing breakfast outside in the morning sun I thought I saw a day of reading and relaxation.
Then we decided to go to the Jack Danielâs distillery in Lynchburg â and the day got infinitely better!
So, I have been on tours of several historical sites and sites that make well-known products (ex. Heineken beer) and this is by far one of the best, most informative tours ever. And they didnât even bribe me with samples!
The drive to Lynchburg was relaxing and made me realize even further how my previous conceptions about these southern states is completely wrong.
The distillery tour had some amazing facts that I am going to list in an attempt to remember them all:
Approximately 28 million gallons of Jack Daniels were produced last year.
They have 77 barrel houses throughout Lynchburg where the whiskey ages, where at any given point, there is a total of 75 million gallons aging.
JD ages for a minimum of 4 years and is only then deemed ready by sight, smell and taste which is determined by the master distiller.
Jack Daniels is the first distillery registered with the federal government. Today, up to 60% of the per-bottle price the consumer pays for JD is comprised of local and federal taxes and fees â depending on where you live in the US.
Jack Daniels began making whiskey at age 13 after he took over the business from a preacher he lived with (he moved in, so he could go to school). He started and registered his own distillery 3 years later at the age of 16.
Even though Jack Daniels is in a âdry county,â in 1995 the State of Tennessee voted to allow the sale of Jack Daniels on the premises of the distillery only (at the White Rabbit Store) in its otherwise dry county. Sadly, I did not buy any JD at the distillery because: 1) all their products are available in California, and 2) the only thing they were selling today were the commemorative bottles âScenes of Lynchburgâ at $75/each.
Only 5 ingredients go into Jack Daniels: corn, malted barley, rye, iron water (water filtered through the rocks at the distillery site and it picks up iron along the way), and yeast during the fermentation process.
The charcoal is made on site from sugar maple trees owned by the distillery. Itâs the charred lining oak barrels and the sugar maple charcoal that give JD itâs distinctive flavor, smell, and color.
Before being charcoal filtered and aged in oak barrels, JD is 140 proof. Through the distillation process, the original 140-proof product is mixed with water and is dropped to a more manageable proof (% alcohol).
A barrel maker â which JD bought their own company for barrel making (itâs in Kentucky) â is known as a cooper. A barrel making facility is known as a cooperage.
The old barrels are regularly purchased by vineyards to store wine in and scotch makers to make scotch. Our tour guide said that when youâre drinking scotch, youâre actually drinking second-rate whiskey.
Whiskey is actually a bourbon before being charcoal filtered. Bourbon can be made anywhere â despite popular belief. Kentucky Bourbon; however, must be made in Kentucky if it is to wear that label.
There are four types of JD for sale throughout the US:
1. Green Label: a lighter, less distinct JD due to its aging on a higher floor in the barrel house (best used for mixed drinks)
2. Black Label: the original, most well-known Jack product
3. Gentleman Jack: a more prestigious, smoother Jack product that is twice charcoal filtered
Jack Daniel died at 61 in 1911 from gangrene after he broke his toe when he kicked the safe in his office when it wouldnât open.
Jack Daniel was only 5â2â.
There have only been 7 master distillers in the history of JD, with Jack Daniel being the first.
You can join the Barrel Club by buying your own barrel of single-barrel (meaning itâs not mixed with other barrels of whiskey), premium Jack Daniels. They bottle the product in specialty bottles with personalized, engraved labels, each hand-numbered, you get to keep the barrel it came in, receive a plaque in the distillery âhall of fameâ and they ship it to a liquor distributor near you. All for only $10,000/barrel.
During the tour, our hilarious and extremely informed tour guide Marlene (a Tennessee native and 12-year employee of JD), told us that the first Friday of every month all employees of JD get a free pint of JD.
The time-honored traditions of JD are world-known and sold in more than 50 countries.
This is but a glimpse of what was explained about the process. It was an awesome combination of local and US history, and the JD story. It was great.
Oh, and the tour was free!
I know thatâs a lot about Jack Daniels, but I was impressed by the history of the product and the quality of the tour. Tomorrow, weâre off to The Great Smokey Mountains National Park for four days of nature â and no driving for me! Iâm really excited for the 2nd most visited National Park.
I do need to expand my culinary palette, and may try several local favorite eateries: Cracker Barrel, Shoneyâs or maybe even Taco Bueno. Iâll report back should I be daring enough to indulge in any of these.
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