Friday, June 1, 2012

Jack Daniel Distillery & Lynchburg

Picking up where we left off in the previous post ...

The rest of Kellie & Leroy's visit continued with an out-of-town adventure. Tuesday we joined Mark & Barbara for a day trip to Lynchburg, TN to visit the Jack Daniel Distillery. Despite my living in Nashville umpty-leven years, I'd never been; it was high time to cross this off my hometown tourist list. Mark served as our gracious chauffeur, and we arrived mid-morning; we could have taken the regular tour that runs frequently, but we wanted to do the special tour that includes the indoor parts of the distillery and ends in a tasting. That special tour only runs twice a day, and we'd missed the morning one. So, we signed up and paid our $10 each to join the 2:30 edition.

To pass the time, we sauntered over to downtown Lynchburg, just a couple of blocks away via a pleasant walkway. It was close to lunch time so we scoped out the options. The famous Miss Mary Bobo's Boarding House generally requires reservations and has fixed seating times; that didn't work for us. There are a couple of BBQ places and a couple of cafes. We picked the Iron Kettle.This is a typical small-town diner-type place, with burgers and sandwiches as well as meat-and-three meals. We didn't expect gourmet cuisine but the offerings were tasty enough for most of us, with a few creative touches. Thus fortified, we did a circuit of the square.

Several shops were closed. One shop was large and nicely appointed and essentially all Jack Daniel's merchandise -- I wonder if it is actually owned by Jack Daniel, since the distillery itself does not sell anything other than commemorative bottles of whiskey. There were many souvenir / knick knack / gift shops, as well as one genuine antique store and a needlecraft store, among others. The shops aren't really my style, but I bought my obligatory refrigerator magnet to commemorate the trip. We eventually wandered back to the distillery visitor center, which is attractive, spacious, and well-maintained. We perused the exhibits set up in the main lobby, and before long it was time for our tour.

All of the tours start in a small auditorium where you view a video that describes the history and culture of JD. Part informational, part advertisement, it sets the stage for the sights to come. After the video a group photo with your tour guide is taken (you may purchase a hard copy at the end of the tour, or download a digital copy from the web site later), then you hop on a shuttle bus for a very short trip up the hill to the first stop on the tour.

We toured the charcoal-making area, the original restored office building, the entrance to the cave where the famous iron-free spring is located (experiencing a good 30-degree drop in temperature in a matter of 20 feet), as well as the buildings where the various stages of distilling, filtering, ageing, bottling, etc. take place. The trip concluded in the tasting room where we were able to have sips of their three premium products: The twice-filtered Gentleman Jack; an exemplar of a single-barrel whiskey; and the newer version of JD that contains honey, molasses, and chestnut. I am not a fan of drinking straight liquor -- I prefer it with mixers -- and I'm not a huge fan of whiskey in general. I appreciated these tastes of pure product, though, especially after seeing the whole process start to finish. I have to say, I might need to pick up a bottle of the Tennessee Honey to mix with some ginger ale, as suggested by our tour guide.

All in all it was an informative, professionally-run tour. I would highly recommend the special tour -- I think the regular tour leaves out all of the truly interesting sights! Even if you're not a particular JD fan, it's a fun look at a unique operation, suitable for food and drink fans of all types.

Next post: Tapas and brunch


heavy hedonist said...

As a big fan of Jack Daniels, I tried the honey in a tiny bottle as soon as I first saw it, in some iced tea-- oh, my, was it good.

TL said...

Yeah, I'm definitely picking up a bottle. I can see many uses ... *grin*