To many spirit drinkers, Jack Daniels is a legendary Tennessee whiskey named after the man who supposedly founded the best-selling whiskey.
When Daniels was a kid, he worked for a distiller named Dan Call, and, for years, people believed that Daniels learned the art of making whiskey directly from Call.
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However, over 150 years after the famous whiskey brand was founded, it was revealed that Daniels did not learn distilling from his employer — he learned how to make his whiskey from Nathan “Nearest” Green, a Black man who was enslaved by Call.
This version of the story was never a secret, but it is one that the distillery has only recently begun to embrace, tentatively, in some of its tours, and in a social media and marketing campaign last summer.
For years, the prevailing history of American whiskey has been framed around German and Scots-Irish settlers who distilled their surplus grains into whiskey.
We know enslaved men not only made up the bulk of the distilling labor force, but they often played crucial skilled roles in the whiskey-making process.
In the same way that white cookbook authors often appropriated recipes from their black cooks, white distillery owners took credit for the whiskey.
Outside of the cave stands a statue of Mr. Daniel himself, watching over the spring of his secret ingredient.
Jack Daniel Distillery tour offers an insight into how the legendary No. 7 is made, as you get to observe each step of the distillery process and even have a taste test.
GENERAL TOUR INFORMATION
- All ages are welcome however restrictions do apply. Please read individual tour descriptions thoroughly to understand these restrictions.
- The Jack Daniel Distillery is a working distillery. There may be times the tour path is altered to accommodate routine maintenance and repairs; expect temperature fluctuations and strong odors.
- Tours are outdoors and involve walking and stairs. Jack Daniel’s has developed an alternative Distillery tour for those who would have difficulty participating in the tour. There is a bus-tour option for those who are short on time or who don’t have a hankering for stairs. For those opting for the other tour options, walking shoes are recommended.
- Clutches, fanny packs, and wallets are allowed. No purses or bags are allowed on tours.
- There are free, self-locking lockers provided at the Visitors Center.
- Baby carriers are recommended however strollers are not allowed on tours.
- Services animals are welcome at the Distillery, however, they must be restrained at all times.
SECURITY, POLICIES & RESTRICTIONS
- Bags are not permitted on tours. Bags include backpacks, purses, and camera bags.
- Cameras and cell phones are allowed on tours, however, pictures are restricted in certain areas of the tour.
- The Jack Daniel Distillery and Visitor Center is a smoke-free facility. This includes smokeless tobacco, e-cigarettes, and vapor devices. Smoking is not permitted on tours.
- Weapons of any kind are not permitted inside the Visitors Center or on the Distillery tour
Jack Daniels Famous Taste
Only the enhanced tour which is what I took includes a stop at the grinding room.
The grinding room is where they pulverize the burned wood that they eventually filter the whiskey through to produce that famous, mellowed taste.
It isn’t made out of 80 percent corn. The other ingredients are rye and barley. The whiskey is distilled in copper stills and filtered through charcoal, which is made out of sugar and maple.
The filtration takes a couple of days and gives the whiskey its smooth and pleasant taste.
Jack Daniel’s ages in new, handcrafted oak casks, which enrich the whiskey with its typical flavor. Interesting: A lot of scotch producers buy old Jack Daniel’s casks and use them for the maturation of scotch.
The main reason that Jack chose this location for his distillery was because of Cave Spring.
This natural spring comes right out of the Tennessee mountains provides all the water needed to make their product.
Even more important, the limestone surrounding the water absorbs iron, therefore, the water coming out of the spring is completely iron-free, a very important and unique element in this whiskey.
Members of Society
We passed through a dark room with walls blanketed by hundreds of brass plaques bearing peoples’ names – the “Members of Society”.
Our tour guide said for around $10,000 anyone can buy an entire barrel of Jack Daniel’s Single Barrel, earning a spot on this wall and an abundance of whiskey that might last a lifetime.
Finally, it was time for the taste testing!! Everyone took a seat and in front of us were 5 shot glasses each filled with a third of an ounce for each of us to sample.
The first tasting was with regular Jack Daniel’s Tennessee Whiskey, the next was Gentleman Jack, and a third with the superior single-barrel product, which gets its mellower, sweeter flavor from being stored on the warmer, top floors of the barrelhouse.
Sinatra Select which was my personal favorite because of the Oaky smokiness, subtle sweet notes, and the hint of vanilla, and lastly the Single-Barrel Rye.
“Now remember,” Amber my guide reminded me. “This is Tennessee sippin’ whiskey. “Don’t just throw it back.
You gotta sip it.” This was my first time tasting whiskey so I wasn’t going to throw it back anyway nor could I if I even wanted to!
Just as I have done on wine tours in Italy, I swished the samples around my mouth, trying to discern the differences in the five samples.
I was asked if I can taste the difference that three extra feet of charcoal make?” referring to the additional filtering that Gentleman Jack receives and of course my novice palette could not taste the difference.
Touring Jack Daniel’s Facility
Last year, over 265,000 people visited Jack Daniel’s distillery. It is also listed on the National Register of Historic Places.
Even if you are not a whiskey fan, which I am not I would still suggest visiting the distillery. I was so impressed with the passion and dedication that goes into each bottle of Jack Daniel’s whiskey that I will never view again as the brown stuff in the bottle.
Old No. 7
This is the original Jack Daniel’s whiskey. It pleases you with the sweet aromas of brown sugar, wood, resin, and fresh leaves.
It tastes sweet and reminds you of oranges, wood, and warm cinnamon. The aftertaste is pleasant and comes with flavors of oranges and dark chocolate.
An elegant whiskey with a light nose, that combines the aromas of an autumn day. Wood, vanilla, maple syrup, apple, and brown sugar give the whiskey its typical bouquet.
The flavors of vanilla and apple define the whiskey’s warm but dry taste. It finishes off with hints of honey, maple, and fruits.
Single Barrel Rye
70 percent rye gives this whiskey its special taste. A complex whiskey that tastes like ripe fruits, toasted oak, and spices.
The finish is warm, pleasant, and lingers in your mouth for a long time.
Sinatra Select pays tribute to Jack’s biggest fan: Frank Sinatra.
Made with our unique “Sinatra Barrels” that have deep grooves specially carved into their staves to expose the whiskey to extra layers of toasted oak.
This added exposure imparts a rich amber color, bold character, and pleasant smokiness, punctuated by an incredibly smooth vanilla finish. Much like Frank, this Tennessee Whiskey is one of a kind.
The new Jack Daniel’s Tennessee Honey delivers a delicious tasting honey-infused, whiskey-based liqueur.
This smooth, sweet and versatile blend should be served with a few ice cubes, some lemon, or a dash of dry. It’s a little bit of honey and a whole lot of Jack.
How to Get to Jack Daniel’s Distillery
The Jack Daniels Distillery is located about 90 miles from Nashville in historic Lynchburg, Tennessee.
Hours of Operation
Tours are conducted daily from 9:00 am to 4:30 pm and are done on a first-come-first-served basis, or you can book in advance at Jack Daniels.
Cost to get in
Tour prices range from $20 to $100. Jack Daniels distillery tour costs are the following:
- Dry County Tour – $20
- Flight of Jack Daniels Tour – $30
- The Angel’s Share – $35
- Taste of Lynchburg – $100
Where to Stay Near Jack Daniels Distillery
If you are visiting Nashville, I suggest taking a day trip from Nashville to Lynchburg. Check out my list of great luxury hotels in Nashville for your Jack Daniels tour.
Also, in September 2019, the Nearest Green Distillery opened for visitors. While it is temporarily closed to the public due to coronavirus pandemic, future visitors will be able to book founders’ tours, bus tours, and VIP tastings.
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