Jack Daniel Distillery
While we were in Nashville, we decided to take a side trip over to the very small town of Lynchburg to visit the Jack Daniel Distillery which ended up being quite fascinating!! The Jack Daniel Distillery, which is the oldest registered distillery in the US, is still where every single drop of Jack Daniel’s Tennessee Whiskey is still made today!They offer a free tour so you can see how they make their whiskey, which is still the same way that Mr. Jack did way back when. He purchased his first still when he was only 13 year old! He left home at an early age and was raised by a family friend named Dan Call.
Jack Daniel left home at an early age and was raised by a family friend named Dan Call. Mr. Call was a Lutheran minister, but also owned a whiskey still. This is where young Jack learned about making whiskey, and then in September of 1863, Mr. Call decided to devote his life to his ministry and sold him the still.
They charcoal mellow the whiskey drop by drop through ten feet of crushed sugar maple charcoal before it is barreled, and they make their own charcoal right out here. This mellowing is what makes Jack Daniel’s a whiskey instead of a bourbon. Here is one of their buildings that they use to store it while it is aging in the barrels. They’ve got a whole bunch of these buildings over the property, although not all of them are this large. Now, the original reason that Mr. Jack decided to move here and build his distillery here is because he discovered Cave Spring Hollow. After the mellowing, the spirit is mixed with this spring water to lower the proof and then it is poured into the barrels for maturing. The water coming out of this cool, iron-free spring flows year-round at 800 gallons per minute at a constant temperature of 56° and is why the distillery is still located here. The tour took us into the old distillery office where they had a nice portrait of Jack Daniel over the stove. And on the other side of the room, they have the safe that eventually was responsible for Mr. Jack’s death! As the story goes, he arrived at work early one morning and tried to open the safe, but he couldn’t remember the combination. In his frustration, he gave it a good, solid kick! Unfortunately, this resulted in him breaking his toe and later, infection set in, which led to blood poisoning and that is what eventually took his life in 1911.
Now when it comes to barrels, they only make their own. They select the best white oak for the barrel staves. They their craftsmen fit the staves together by hand and then toast and char the inside to caramelize the wood’s natural sugars. And then the whiskey gets its amber coloring from the toasted oak barrels. And they only use each barrel once!! One thing that is so funny is about the name “Old No. 7” on Jack Daniel’s Whiskey. No one but Mr. Jack himself knows how it got this name.
One story goes that the recipe for Jack Daniel’s was Mr. Jack’s 7th recipe or 7th trial batch. Another story says that it was the railroad shipping number on a barrel. And others say that Jack Daniel had 7 girlfriends, or that the way he wrote his “J” looked like a 7. Some say he chose the number 7 simply because it’s lucky. But as I said, we will never know for sure!
After we finished our tour, we walked over to the historic town square of Lynchburg. In the center of the square is the Moore County Courthouse which has been holding court since its construction in 1885.In 1909, prohibition forced the distillery to shut down, so Lem Motlow decided to open up the Lynchburg Hardware and General Store. This store was just one of Lem’s many ventures he started to help him get through prohibition. The store sold just about everything, including feed, knives, plows, and long johns. And although they don’t sell these items anymore, you can still see many of the old remnants in shelves and cupboards used inside. After our busy day, Sal decided to take a break outside the store in one of the rocking chairs made out of a used Jack Daniel barrel. Nice!All in all, we had another great day in Tennessee! And this is definitely another place that I would recommend to anyone who travels through the area.