Tuesday, November 12, 2013

The Jack Daniel's Distillery and Lynchburg, Tennessee

Mom contacted me via Facebook to invite me to join the Murfreesboro family with (Step) Uncle Ed Jablonski and his wife Mi Young to visit the Jack Daniel's whiskey distillery in Lynchburg, Tennessee. It was a rare opportunity to see expatriate and career Army veteran Uncle Ed. I've also had an interest in visiting the distillery for quite some time since it's one of the things most well-known about the State of Tennessee (for good or bad) yet I've never visited, despite having lived in Tennessee (or nearby) for most of my life.

Jack Daniel

I enjoyed the drive from the greater Chattanooga area into Middle Tennessee, which includes leaving the Appalachian Ridge and Valley region, crossing into the South Cumberlands/Cumberland Plateau region, dropping down onto an area of table land called the Highland Rim, and then down into the Nashville Basin to get to Lynchburg. The distillery rests on the slopes of the lower edge of Highland Rim, where water is drawn from a natural spring that flows out of a cave in the karst terrain. It's a neat location.

The original source of Jack Daniel's Tennessee Whiskey, a natural spring flowing out of a cave in the side of the Highland Rim, with a surprising volume of flow.

I was a bit shocked by the distillery as a tourist attraction as there was a huge parking lot with about 400 cars in it, mostly tourists. It was initially baffling. There is an elaborate visitor's center with tours leaving every 5 to 10 minutes in air conditioned mini-buses. I had never imagined that a whiskey distillery could be such a huge tourist draw. In the process of going through the tour it becomes clear that people literally come from all over the world to visit the distillery (or at least it is on their vacation itinerary). I also did not realize that Jack Daniel's Tennessee Whiskey is the best selling whiskey in the world. Perhaps that explains the level of tourism.

The visitor's center.

Tour ticket resembles a bottle label. The tickets were free.

The tour of the distillery operations was interesting and aromatic. The huge vats and columnar tanks reminded me of the Elsinore Brewery from the movie Strange Brew (haha), except it's not beer brewing of course. I would love to have gotten more photos but the company respectfully asked that no photos be taken in the operational areas to maintain trade secrets. I saw several people breaking the rules anyway but I thought it rude.

Anyway I would recommend it to anyone with a day to kill in Middle Tennessee. Hit up the shops and restaurants in downtown Lynchburg and be sure to check out the historic court house in the middle of the town square. Lynchburg is also known as a place where the politician and Texas revolutionary Davy Crockett once lived and is the current home of "oldies" rock and roll artist Little Richard.

The historic courthouse in Lynchburg, constructed in 1885.

It was a nice place for a family gathering and entertainment for a Saturday.

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