On our last trip to Tennessee we met us with some friends and decided to do the tour at Jack Daniels Distillery in Lynchburg. We had a blast and learned a lot about the distilling process. For those of you who don’t know, Jack Daniels is the top selling American whiskey in the world, owned and by the Brown-Forman Corporation since 1956. An interesting note, is that despite being the location of a major operational distillery, Jack Daniels home county of Moore is a dry county, so the product is not available for consumption at stores or restaurants within the county. Crazy huh? During our tour we learned that the mash for Jack Daniels is made from corn, rye and malted barley, and is distilled in copper stills. It is then filtered through 10-foot stacks of sugar maple charcoal. The company refers to this filtering step as “mellowing”. This extra step, known as the Lincoln County Process, removes impurities and the taste of corn. They state that this extra step makes the product different from bourbon.
However, Tennessee whiskey is required to be “a straight Bourbon Whiskey” under terms of the North American Free Trade Agreement and Canadian law. Anyway, after the filtering, the whiskey is stored in newly handcrafted oak barrels, which give the whiskey its color and most of its flavor. A unique aspect of the filtering process is that the Jack Daniels brand grinds its charcoal before using it for filtering. We all thought that was kind of interesting. The product label mentions that it is a “sour mash” whiskey, which means that when the mash is prepared, some of the wet solids from a previously used batch are mixed in to help make the fermentation process operate more consistently. They stated that this is common practice in American whiskey production.
After being used for the aging of Jack Daniels whiskey, many barrels go to Scotland to be used in the production of Scotch whisky. Some barrels are leased from Glenmorangie distillery. Some of the barrels are sold toMcIlhenny Company of Avery Island, Louisiana, for production of Tabasco sauce, Mount Gay Rum company of Barbados and Appleton Estate of Jamaica for use in the aging process of their distinctively flavored drums. Some barrels are also cut in half and shipped to Lowe’s Home Centers to be used as planter pots. Apparently, the barrels retain the whiskey smell for some time after arriving there and must be watered every couple of days to keep them intact before they are sold and filled with soil. Sounds like a pain, but nice to see they aren’t being wasted.We really enjoyed out tour which was mostly outside and we were afraid they were going to cancel it because it started snowing. It was cold but we kept popping in and out of different barns and shacks that it wasn’t too bad. It was actually a little warm in some of them so the cold air felt good (at least for a little while).
- Old No. 7: Also known as Black Label, this is the original Jack Daniels (80 proof/40% ABV)
- Gentleman Jack: Charcoal filtered twice, compared to once with Old No. 7 (80 proof/40% ABV).
- Single Barrel: Whiskey sourced from a single barrel in the company’s warehouse (94 proof/47% ABV).
- Tennessee Honey: Honey liqueur blended with less than 20% whiskey (70 proof/35% ABV).
- Tennessee Fire: Cinnamon liqueur blended with less than 20% whiskey (70 proof/35% ABV).
- Green Label: A lighter-bodied bottling of Old No. 7, not available everywhere (80 proof/40% ABV).
- Silver Select: For export only (100 proof/50% ABV).
- Winter Jack: Seasonal blend of apple cider liqueur and spices (30 proof/15% ABV).
- 27 Gold: Limited release (80 proof/40% ABV) 
- Sinatra Select: Tribute to Jack’s biggest fan: Mr. Frank Sinatra(90 proof / 45% ABV)
- Sinatra Century: Honors the 100th birthday of Frank Sinatra (100 proof / 50% ABV); Limited Edition
- Single Barrel Barrel Proof(125 – 140 proof / 62.5 – 70% ABV, depending on the bottle you get)
- Single Barrel Rye: a permanent line extension and the brand’s first fully matured rye whiskey, launched 2016 (94 proof/47% ABV)
The only negative thing I could say about the Jack Daniels Distillery tour experience as that we had to wait almost 2 hours for a tour. We wanted to get our ticket and then go grab lunch but they told us we had to wait inside or out front. I kept thinking we could have had two or three lunches while we were waiting, lol. Oh well, it was FREE 🙂 was a great tour and one I am glad we experienced. My best suggestion is to get there as early as possible. It seems to be a very popular tour. Tours run daily and last about an hour and 10 mins. There is quite a bit of walking so wear some good shoes 🙂 For more info and directions, check out their website. Hope you enjoy the tour.
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