Could one of the largest industries in America really be tucked away in the rolling hills of Moore County Tennessee? It sure could – and it is! Lynchburg, a small town of about 5,500 residents is home to the Jack Daniel Whiskey Distillery – the oldest registered distillery in the United States. Over 250,000 people visit the distillery every year…for FREE!
I took the tour and found it really interesting, informative and entertaining. We learned quite a bit about how water, corn, rye, barley and yeast are distilled into JD whiskey, using the same process today as Mr. Jack himself did in 1866. We saw where the sour mash is made, how it was fermented, then filtered through 10 feet of sugar maple charcoal to refine the flavor and where they make the barrels (yes, they do make their own barrels). One of the most interesting stops on the tour was the cavern where Jack Daniel's obtains all of the fresh iron-free spring water to make the whiskey. We learned that if it wasn't for this water source, Jack Daniel would have probably made the choice to locate his distillery somewhere else…not a welcome thought to the residents of this lovely slice of Americana!
Now, imagine walking into a bakery, smelling all of the fresh baked goods, and then not being able to eat any of it! Right — there are no whiskey samples given on this tour. Although I'm not a whiskey drinker, I have to admit that seeing the liquor being made and smelling all the charcoal, oak-y, caramel-y flavors in the air really made me want to try some. So why no samples? Are they just cheap? The reason they don’t serve samples is because the Jack Daniel's Distillery, ironically, sits within a dry county (meaning no alcohol may be sold or served). But once we were through with the tour we were given some free lemonade! Hey, I had a lot of driving to do anyway!
If you're in the area, I’d say the Jack Daniels Distillery Tour is a must-see, especially because it's free. And make sure you leave some time to stop by the Lynchburg Hardware & General Store, the 100 year old courthouse, and enjoy a bite to eat at Miss Mary Bobo’s Boarding House (where reservations are recommended). The Visitor's Center is within walking distance of both, and you can visit each in no particular order. Also don’t miss the other shops in Lynchburg square.