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