In retrospect, I probably should have planned our visit to Lynchburg and the Jack Daniel’s distillery a lot better!
Apparently, you can buy tickets for tours online (something I didn’t think to do), there are specific times the tours leave (I didn’t think to check this in advance) and if you want to do certain tours – they sell out fairly quickly!
Truth be told, up until that very morning, I wasn’t sure we would be able to even make it to Lynchburg.
Then partway through, I saw a sign for a waterfall which was inside a mountain (Ruby Falls, I think) and decided to make a quick detour to check it out – only to find out that it’s like a 2-hour tour (apparently you can only see it on a guided tour and those tours last a minimum of those two hours) so just thought “Sod it!” and hopped back into the car and made our way to Tennessee.
By the time we arrived in Lynchburg (we had a pit stop to grab lunch at Five Guys – first time I’ve ever had one in the US), we arrived just in time to hop on the ‘dry’ tour.
Random aside: turns out – Jack Daniels was actually a very small man! In the reception area – there’s a photo of him at his actual height worth checking out to see exactly what I mean.
The tour kicked off showing you every element of what goes into making that signature Jack Daniels taste – from the Sugar Maple wood used to create the charcoal that its filtered with, right through to the very spring where every single drop of Jack Daniels all across the world is made from!
I’ve got to admit, it’s that spring I really came here to see.
I don’t know if I just bought into the adverts back at home in the UK but I love the idea that every single drop can be traced right back here to this very spot!
It’s incredible – especially in this day and age of mass production where lots of the same thing are manufactured different across the world.
There’s nothing wrong with that of course, it’s just so (ironically) novel when there’s a product that defies this, is somehow successful despite this and it just basically captured my imagination enough to make me want to visit and grab my own bottle “direct from the source”.
The tour then carried on through to Jack’s office before centering on the thing that finished him off in the end – his safe.
Legend has it that, Jack had gone into his office (his real name is actually Jasper but people just used to call him Jack) and tried opening his safe which wouldn’t open (apparently it wasn’t unusual that he would forget the combination from time to time). In frustration, he kicked the safe, broke his toe and eventually it got infected and he passed away from blood poisoning.
We carried on the tour through the distillery, stopping off to check how the unfiltered Jack Daniel’s whiskey is made…
…before eventually making our way to the barrel area where the tour finished off.
Now here’s something of a doozy! Did you know that despite this being the largest export of Lynchburg (in fact, arguably one of the largest exports of Tennessee as a whole), it is illegal to buy alcohol here! Lynchburg is in Moore County – which is a dry county and so the sale of alcohol is now allowed here.
Luckily, there’s a loophole that means you still get to take home your bottle of Jack Daniels with you. The bottles themselves are sold as souvenirs (which are allowed and perfectly legal) and the liquor in them is not the actual thing being sold but the special souvenir bottles.
As long as I got to get my ‘straight from source’ bottles, that explanation was good enough for me – and with that, I grabbed one of the original old school ones and a more modern, tweaked one.
My intrigue with the distillery was not limited to just the distillery, however! I was also very interested in seeing what Lynchburg looked like and so offer we went once we left the distillery to check out Lynchburgh.
By the time, we left the distillery, most places here had closed (except for the general store / Jack Daniel’s store) but it was still interesting to have a little nosey around the area.
Places like this only really exist in TV shows and movies for us in the UK so getting to see parts of Tennessee like this was just the perfect way to finish off a brilliant trip across this rather interesting American state.