A Trip to the Jack Daniel’s Distillery: The Home of Old Number 7
We’ve all adorned our windowsills once upon a time with an empty bottle of Jack Daniel’s Old Number 7. The black and white label is infamous and ubiquitous. We love our Jack dearly, and there is a place in Tennessee where all the Jack Daniel’s in the world is produced. The Jack Daniel’s distillery, the oldest legal distillery in the US, can be found in Lynchburg, Tennessee, which is about an hour southeast of Nashville if you’re going 75 mph. Lynchburg, a quaint place with little else to offer except the Mecca of whiskey drinkers, is actually located in a dry county. A tour of the distillery is can be achieved in a weekend, or stretched into a week-long journey along the American Whiskey Trail.
Into the Heart of the Beast
Entering into the home of Number 7 can be a big event for many of us. The lobby has some cool displays containing everything from old and modern distilling equipment, to kitschy old-time photographs, to a suit that Mr. Jack himself wore back in the day. For those of us who enjoy lining our houses with Jack bottles, there are whiskey bottles from all different eras of production. A shop called the White Rabbit Bottle Shop will supply you with more JD schwag than you can possibly display in your one bedroom apartment. The White Rabbit Saloon offers more kinds of Jack Daniel’s than you knew existed, and has a wood-paneled southern feel that makes you want to start slinging guns. Don’t, though. It’s a classy place.
Distillery tours start every fifteen minutes from 9am until 4:30pm (that’s Central time, remember) on every day except Thanksgiving, Christmas Eve, Christmas Day, and New Years. The tour consists of mainly outdoor touring of distillery buildings, and the creek and cave where the spring water that is used in making the famous whiskey comes from. The long hallways full of triple-stacked barrels is something to see, and so are the distilling machines.
Tips and Secrets
Honestly, there is not much to do in Lynchburg other than the distillery tour. There are several places to eat, but they’re kind of gimmicky and overpriced. Skip Miss Mary Bobo’s, where Jack himself used to stay sometimes, and go to the Lynchburg Saloon instead.
If staying in Lynchburg doesn’t sound all that glamorous, you can purchase a tour package from the Grey Line tour company in Nashville for $45. This is actually a great deal because if you’re spending some time in Nashville, you can take a day to pop down to Lynchburg, and have a ride back to town. The bus leaves at 9am and returns around 4pm, which gives you plenty of time to peruse the distillery grounds, buy all the JD shirts and shot glasses and god knows what else from the White Rabbit bottle shop, sample the special bottles of whiskey from the saloon, and still make it back in time to cruise Music City in your new Jack shirt.
You can also follow the American Whiskey Trail that winds through Kentucky and Tennessee and boasts six distinct distilleries including, among others, the those of Jim Beam, Wild Turkey, and Makers Mark. The George Dickel’s distillery is located in nearby Tullahoma, if you want to make a weekend of it.
Tasting at the Saloon
If you find yourself in the saloon, by the way, I suggest that you try the Single Barrel Whiskey. It’s a rich red color that pours a little thicker than the Number 7, and it has an incredibly strong, round flavor that packs more of a punch than the JD we’ve all come to love, if you can believe it. And if you have an extra $8500 lying around, you can purchase your very own barrel (yes, an entire barrel) of the stuff, which pours about 240 bottles (fifth bottles, that is) of Old Fashioned Sippin’ Whiskey. Now, wouldn’t that look nice on your windowsill? And remember: Jack Daniel is not a man to trifle with. Have fun, but don’t be an idiot. I mean, drink responsibly.
By Mary Fall Wade