America. / Wedding planning

Now I know Jack

It’s T-minus TEN DAYS until my wedding, which means I’m running around Maryland looking at table settings and floral arrangements and tanning salons and trying to relocate my head, which rolled off my body about two weeks ago and has been missing ever since.

But before I lost my head to a sea of schedules and seating charts, Jonathan and I decided we hadn’t toured enough whiskey distilleries, so we should probably hit up one more. Though Kentucky is known for its bourbon, next door in Tennessee is the home of the one and only Jack Daniel.

Jack Daniel Distillery

I have a growing obsession with barrels that’s getting a little out of hand. But look at all the things you can do with barrels. One of those barrels is a trash can, and the other barrel is a planter. You can turn a barrel into a wine rack. You can turn a barrel into a bathtub. You can even turn a barrel into a table. BARRELS.

The first thing you should know about Jack Daniel is that he started distilling whiskey before the age of 13. The second thing you should know (which is likely not related to the first, though I’m not a historian or a physician, so you be the judge) is that he was 5’2″ tall. Other great people who were/are 5’2″ tall: Shakira, Napoleon, and me. Greatness comes in five-foot-two-inch packages. Side effect of a search for ultimate power and high heels.

Jack Daniels

What you can’t see in the Jack statue is that he’s standing on a pedestal. CHEATER.

The distillery and visitor’s center are located in Lynchburg, Tennessee, which is in a completely dry county, so you can’t actually buy any Jack Daniel’s in the town where Jack Daniel’s is made. A legal exception was drawn up for the “special edition” bottles sold in the visitor’s center gift shop, which the county allows since they are a special gift item you can’t get anywhere else. That’s called bureaucracy, ladies and gentlemen.

Lynchburg, Tennessee

You can also turn barrels into a flagpole. BARRELS!

The gift shop at the actual distillery is small and only sells those government-sanctioned bottles of Jack, but downtown Lynchburg is a five-minute walk away, and it’s packed with over-priced-Jack-Daniel’s-paraphernalia shops.

Lynchburg Finds

We had time to kill before our tour began, so we perused the gift shops and decided against paying nine dollars for a shot glass. We went back after our tour and ended up getting whiskey-infused fudge, which was gone the next day with no regrets.

The distillery tour took us through some beautiful spots, including the little cave you see in the picture below. Every ounce of water that goes into a bottle of Jack Daniel’s comes from the water source you see in that cave, which winds many miles underground. The paved and wooded area surrounding the spring is rented out for wedding ceremonies, which I completely did not know until we took this tour, and anyway I’ve already paid our venue way too much money so it’s too late to change.

Jack Daniel Distillery Tour

Our tour guide mentioned that no Jack Daniel statue on the property is properly proportioned; because Jack wore a size four shoe, all attempts to get him anatomically correct in stone ended up toppling over head-first. I bet Jack Daniel had very strong ankles.

Though we weren’t permitted to take pictures inside the distillery’s factory rooms, my favorite part of the tour was watching the whiskey go through its flavoring process. Jack Daniel’s can technically be considered a bourbon until the final step in its distilling process, when it is filtered through huge vats of maple-flavored wood chips. In order to be considered a bourbon, the whiskey cannot be flavored by anything other than the mash ingredients and the aging process. But Jack doesn’t really give a shit about being technically considered a bourbon. During the tour, we watched the distilled-but-not-yet-aged whiskey drip drop by drop through the vats of sweet maple chips. Jack Daniel’s Single Barrel goes through the chips twice. Now you know Jack too.

Jack Daniel Distillery Tour

Though you can take a free tour of the facilities, we opted for the extended, paid tour, because it included arguably the most important part of a distillery tour: the tasting.

Jonathan Jack Tasting

We didn’t actually get to sample the Tennessee Honey, which was my biggest disappointment of the day. That’s a whiskey I can drink straight without making a terrible face afterward. For an example of that terrible face, scroll down.

My Jack Tasting

I tried.

Until we meet again, Jack Daniel’s. Which I have a good hunch will be in ten days.

Scenes From JD

13 thoughts on “Now I know Jack

      • Vodka… And great sorting cat…I died laughing at sorting cat, so it stays, even though I meant “supporting cast.” Lol! I had five bridesmaids that were talented in different ways. My best friend became my had since I lost mine too.. She was tasked with writing down whatever chore I would suddenly remember and blurt out in the middle of a conversation. She literally carried around paper and pen because I was so preoccupied that I’d forget something within minutes of saying it.

  1. We went to the Jack Daniels distillery when we were stationed at Campbell. Our tour guide mentioned how they make Jack Daniels Silver Select, and because of the proof (which I can’t even remember) they don’t sell it in the states, only overseas. This piece of knowledge has haunted me My parents used to live in Europe and every time we made a visit we had to search for that stupid bottle.

    Enjoy these last few days prior to the wedding!

    • Thanks, Megan! I’m now going to scour the globe for Silver Select to prove that Americans can handle it. Or to re-prove that they can’t. Either way I’m getting wasted.

    • Here’s another fun one I didn’t share: When we toured Jack’s office on the distillery property, the tour guide pointed out a big metal safe. It was the safe that killed him–he couldn’t remember the combination, kicked it out of frustration, broke his toe, and didn’t go to a doctor. By the time he sought medical attention, his foot had to be amputated. Then his leg. He died of blood poisoning from the infection.

      Well. That was morbid.

      • Daniel died from blood poisoning in Lynchburg in 1911. A common tall tale is that the infection began in one of his toes, which Daniel injured one morning at work by kicking his safe in anger when he could not get it open (he was said to always have had trouble remembering the combination).[9] However, Daniel’s modern biographer has asserted that the story is not true.[1][5]

  2. 10 days…so you’re getting married on Sept. 22 aka the autumnal equinox aka THE FIRST DAY OF FALL?! I hope this is by design and because you enjoy calendars and fall as much as I do, and not just because it was the only available date. If it did happen to be a lucky accident, GOOD JOB. Best wishes (which is the appropriate thing to say to a bride, according to Emily Gilmore)….I can’t wait to FB stalk you’re pics, because I’m sure you’ll be beautiful!

    • I’d like to call it a purposeful coincidence, because the first day of fall is definitely one of my favorite days of the year because PUMPKIN, but also because the only Saturdays the venue still had open for September were Yom Kippur and my birthday. Then my mom VERY NICELY reminded me that Jews get married on Sundays or their mothers guilt them to an early death.

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