We arrived in Lynchburg at lunchtime, we are in Jack Daniels country. Moore County …….a dry county! No drinking where Jack lives!
We went to the Visitors Centre and grabbed some info and headed on up to the Jack Daniels Distillery and booked in for a “Tasting Tour”. This place is gorgeous in itself, sitting amongst trees and creeks.
A short walk back to the town square so we could grab lunch at The BBQ Caboose Cafe before walking back and viewing museum type displays before getting on the tour.
Whilst in the square we checked out the old Moore County Jail. Probably the last and most infamous dealings in the jail was the last Sheriff, Ronald Cunningam had to leave as attempts on his life were carried out as he was hot on the trail of runners of drugs and smuggled guns.
The men's jail cells are upstairs and later cells were added downstairs for women. In 1856 The Pauly Jail Building Co commenced and made jail cells and thought to get patents out on their designs. They still make components for detention centres now.
On to THE Tour. So much history and interesting facts about the Jack Daniels distillery and I hope I was listening attentatively.
We started with the learning of how they get the coal for the mellowing process. Enter the Rickyard, using Sugar Maple trees, they create these stacks and put them under the hoods. Spraying them down with Jack Daniels – because you don't want to use anything else that can distort the flavour or adds petroleum products etc. – the rick's are then burnt for 1 – 11/2 hrs to create charcoal.
Charcoal is used in the mellowing process and takes out acids and fusel oils allowing the whiskey to mellow and make it smooth. It even smells good in the charcoal bay! To get it even and ensure a precise filtration the charcoal goes through a grinder to get consistent 'pea gravel' size charcoal.
The building on the hill? 7 stories high and is one of 80 barrel houses. This building alone houses $13.5mil of whiskey. Local, state and federal taxes equate to approx $13 per gallon to get it out of the barrel. Australia ranks 5th biggest consumer of JD.
They have their own fire brigade in case of fire and have not lost any whiskey to fire yet!
Iron free, cold water from the spring to make whiskey. When Jack was 6 he move out of home and moved in with a neighbour who was a minister, preached on Sunday made whiskey through the week. Jack found Cave Springs running and all whiskey made from this water since 1866.
This is what ya call, Jack On The Rocks! Haa haa haa not my line but Josh the tour guide! And that IS the name of the statue.
The marble statue in the Visitor centre is correct in height but his shoes aren't correct he wore a size 4 men's shoe and it would have toppled over so they carved it with size 12's. The bronze statue foot is correct but height is 5'7″ 5″ taller than Jacks actual size but the sculptor liking Jack Daniel honoured him by making him taller.
The mash – A mixture of corn barley rye is brought in as whole grains, it's ground down on site and then mixed with cave water and yeast, set down for 5 days and then is run through the still to get the whiskey out.
Stills run constant and run 35-40gal of whiskey a minute. There are 64 mash tanks 40,000 gal mash per tank. that produce 8000gal of whiskey from one tank every 5 days. Takes 5gal of mash to produce 1gal of whiskey!
Spent mash is around 28% protein and is sold off as by product for cattle growers in the region.
Charcoal mellowing, 75 vats of 10ft of charcoal makes JD Tennessee sipping whiskey. The smell is sensational!! All JD starts the same, it is the ageing in the barrels that changes it.
(Side note here only some areas can you take photos, and could only type this stuff out when not in those buildings, any spark from phones camera flashes etc because of fumes could ignite!)
Barrels are made from white oak. A good/experienced cooper can raise 250 barrels a day. Then they are toasted to caramelise the flavours that come out of the wood. Vanilla, caramel, oak all comes from the toasted charred insides of the barrels. Hence giving those oak and vanilla tones to the whiskey.
53 gallons of whiskey in each barrel and are stored in barrel houses. None are climate controlled it's controlled by Mother Nature, hot, the oak expands and soaks up the whiskey as the weather turns cold it releases the whiskey again. The expanding and contracting allows the scents from the barrels to infuse into the whiskey.
Barrels are used once and then tested to see if they still have traces of liquor in them if they do, they will be sold off to other whiskey makers for their ageing process. If they don't make the cut, they are sold down town in the square for use as furniture, pot plants etc. and they do have some sensational items made from the barrels!
The traditional black label is done with around 170-200 barrels of whiskey mixed in together.
Single Select however will be one barrel, and bottled purely from the 1 barrel approx 240 bottles!! Each barrel can taste different as well. There is a single barrel society and for around $9000 you can buy your own barrel, the gold barrel tack means they have bought more than one, when they have bought 7 they change the badge to a gold barrel with a red 7 on it.
The revenue office (opposite the bottling plant) housed 2 officers up until 1986, when the liquor industry was deregulated they were removed from site and it was made into a nurses station, since 1988 it is now the sampling room and the black JAck Daniels flag flies on the day someone is tasting their own purchased barrel.
It was bottled in a square bottle “a square deal” as it became known – getting a square deal on his whiskey as they were used to clear moonshine or whiskey. The 7 still unknown, lucky number, his height 5'2″, 7 lovely ladies he supposedly had.
Select barrels are used for single barrel select and are stored in the very top floor of the barrel house. 90% are rejected even after being selected to be a “select”. There are of course 7 taste selectors in the distillery.
All bottling is done in Lynchburg, no bottling is done anywhere else. All here and then exported all over the country and indeed all over the world.
During prohibition time Lem Motlow and his wife owned and ran the hardware store on the square. When prohibition ended Tennessee remained a dry state. Lem, not happy with this ran for election in legislature and was elected to office and managed to get prohibition raised for the state and could therefore start producing Whiskey again.
Aren't we lucky Jack Daniels nephew continued the tradition and pushed for this? We would be without some sensational whiskey that's for sure!
This was an awesome experience, thoroughly enjoyed visiting Lynchburg.
Cheers and here's to Jack! Bottoms Up!
PS more pics will be posted on Facebook, but you get the drift if you are a Jack Daniels fan or just want to see how things were back in the day and how some places, company's and people refuse to give up traditions!!