There’s two Jack’s I love in life, Daniel and White, and both are conveniently located here in Tennessee.
Today I’m heading out to Lynchburg to tour the Jack Daniel’s Distillery. Fantasising about visiting ever since I first caught sight of the JD posters in their black and white on the London Underground; I’m excited to take a tour of Old Number 7.
Our drive out takes us past miles of countryside as we pass through Shelbyville, and white picket fences and wooden farm houses line the roads.
We arrive and get our tour number and sip sweet lemonade. Our guide today is Bonnie and she’s a lively southern belle who ‘ppreciate’s y’all’ .
She walks us around the site and we see where the wooden ricks are made into the charcoal that the whisky is then filtered through. We investigate the natural iron free spring water cave which feeds the distillery, and Mr Jack’s office featuring the very safe which killed him.
Inside the still we see the sour mash of corn, barley and rye being cooled and the smell really hits you, with a warm dense overpowering yeasty kick to it.
I see how the mash then becomes shot up into steam and captured in copper pipes to be liquid once more. We get a waft of the proof as it is filtered through the charcoal to purify it, and we all open our mouths as the scent hits because it really does taste of whisky.
I learn how Jack Daniel’s make their own barrels and fire their insides, and it’s the four to six years the moonshine spends in these that gives it its colour and vanilla oaky flavour.
The barrels remain in warehouses and don’t get moved or tasted until the master taster (dream job right there y’all) inspects it after the minimum four years.
Apparently you can even buy a barrel of whisky of your own and become part of the ‘single barrel club’. You get to keep the barrel along with the 240 some bottles of Jack it makes. sadly, I don’t have a spare 12000 dollars however, so I settle on a small bottle of a batch only sold here in Tennessee.
Following the tour we head into Lynchburg historic town-a square of BBQ joints and JD memorabilia and antique stores. Motorcycle crews roll through with leather waistcoats and handlebar moustaches on giant road hogs blasting music as we stroll about.
I make friends with a couple on my tour, and the guys name is actually Jack Daniel (I kid you not) and we grab BBQ together before heading back on our bus into Nashville.
Fresh off of whisky, I head back out into town to taste some of this carefully crafted Amber liquid, and grab myself some music at Station Inn.
It’s bluegrass jam night, and after queuing to get in, the place is packed. A ten piece rotating group of players drink beer and pluck various string instruments, whilst singing in harmony. A Cool little chickadee bounces around taking the lead vocals and playing her viola. Oh it’s good. I stay a while tapping away and by the time I leave a storm has washed over and the ground is wet.
I hit the hay the sound of bluegrass stuck in my mind; the taste of Tennessee’s finest still licking my lips, and i’m looking forward to more of the same tomorrow.