With the knowledge that we had to be in Nashville between 4 and 6pm to meet our couchsurfing host for the next two nights, we were up bright and early in order to fit in the 4.5 hours of driving to the Jack Daniel’s distillery, the distillery tour and the drive back towards Nashville. We left the hotel at about half past nine and spent the next few uneventful hours driving. Fast forward 5 hours and we arrived at the Jack Daniel’s distillery at about 2.15pm. Parking the car we headed into the visitor centre where we were each handed a flyer with “Tour 9” printed on it, along with various other facts and advertisements and told that the tour would begin shortly. The tour began, as all good American tourist attractions seem to, with an introductory video. Following the video, our guide, who was wearing several Jack Daniel’s branded items and had a brilliant Tennessee accent, loaded us onto the minibus to take us to the start of the tour. The minibus drove us up to the top of the hill, where we all posed for a group photograph in the Rickyard. Once the bus driver had snapped the picture, he disappeared back in the direction of the visitor centre and left us to the mercy of our guide. Our guide explained how the wood is seasoned for barrel making and also how maple is burnt, using 140 proof whiskey in order to create the charcoal used in the whiskey making process.

Jack Daniel - the taller version!

No burning was in progress on the day we visited, so we continued down the hill to the next stage of the tour. Our guide led us past the distillery’s own fire brigade, to the cave where the water used to make the whiskey bubbles up from a natural spring. Outside the cave is a statue of Jack Daniel himself, interestingly this statue, cast in bronze, is a replacement for an older marble statue that now stands in the visitor centre, and while the original statue was made to the exact proportions of Jack Daniel, the replacement statue was made a good 5 inches taller, standing at 5’7”, when Jack Daniel was only 5’2”. (Which personally I think is a great height to be – perhaps I am biased?) We were led into a small building and after an anecdote about Jack Daniel kicking a safe in frustration, (a tantrum that broke his big toe and eventually led to his death after gangrene set in) our guide talked us through the ingredients that go into the mash to make the whiskey. From this point on the tour photography was banned since we were going into the heart of the distillery. The tour took us through the whole process of making Jack Daniel’s, from the mash and the distilling of the bourbon, which is then filtered through ten feet of charcoal in order to become Tennessee whiskey. It is then aged in barrels until it is ready, they do not set a time limit on this process, their team of tasters test each barrel to ascertain whether it is ready – this sounds like a job I would enjoy. We were also taken to watch a short film that showed how they make their own barrels from scratch and then recycle them when they are done (many are sent to Scottish distilleries or used to make Tabasco sauce) before being shown how the bottling process works. Now I don’t know about you, but I would certainly expect a distillery tour to include some sort of a tasting at the end. This was no exception, however, at the end of the tour the only thing available to taste was lemonade. This is because Moore County and the town of Lynchburg have been dry since the Prohibition, and in order for the county to become “wet” once again at least 1600 residents have to sign a petition. Unfortunately, Moore County does not have that many residents, so dry it shall remain. Several years back a law was passed that allowed the distillery to sell commemorative bottles of whiskey, but these were REALLY expensive. Sadly, we did not have time to visit Historic Lynchburg, which in hindsight was probably good as we have all the Jack Daniel’s memorabilia that we need from St Andrews and do not need to spend money on more! Our trip back to Nashville to meet Mallory, our host for the next few days in Nashville was uneventful, other than it being rush hour and we arrived at hers not long after 5pm. Mallory was heading out to a USA vs. Paraguay soccer game with a friend, but took us for a quick meal before she went out. We went to a local café and had a delicious (and cheap) meal before going back to the apartment. While Mallory headed out, kindly entrusting us with her apartment and her keys, we spent the rest of the evening chilling out and planning our day in Nashville tomorrow.

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