The On-Going Adventures of



Home    Bikes    Trips    GPS Files    Links






The Heritage Classic Ride

Jack Daniel Distillery Tour

We couldn't pass on riding in Tennessee without visiting the Jack Daniels Distillery in Lynchburg. It's the oldest nationally registered distillery in the US, first licensed in 1866. Jack Daniels established the distillery in Lynchburg, Tennessee after finding a specific cave spring water that he wanted to use to make his whiskey.

Ironically, Lynchburg is located in Moore County, which is the smallest county in Tennessee and has been a "dry" county since the Prohibition. The White Rabbit Bottle Shop at the Distillery is the only place to buy Jack Daniel's Tennessee Whiskey in Moore County (but is closed on Sundays and most holidays), and sells only commemorative decanters of Jack Daniels.

Except for certain holidays, the Distillery offers free tours throughout the day. Each tour lasts about one hours and fifteen minutes, and the tour guides provide an excellent background on the making of Jack Daniel's Tennessee Whiskey.

Here are some pics from the tour.

The tour starts at the RickYard. Jack Daniel's Tennessee Whiskey is "mellowed" by filtering the just-distilled whiskey through sugar maple charcoal. JD creates it's own charcoal by burning racks of sugar maple wood in their own furnaces at the RickYard.

A Sugar Maple Tree

The Sugar Maple is split into 5 foot sections approximately 4" thick, and stacked.

Four stacks are assembled in an open air furnace in a "rick" formation, slanting towards the center. The Sugar Maple "ricks" are then burned in the furnace to produce the charcoal used in the filtering process

The resulting Jack Daniels charcoal

After the RickYard, the tour shows you where the cave spring water originates. Jack Daniel's located his distillery at this specific location after finding this source of iron-free water. It flows year-round at about 800 gallons per minute and at a constant temperature of 56 degrees F.

Spring Water emerging from the limestone caves

The actual process of making the whiskey begins with mixing corn, rye and barley malt with the cave water to create a "mash". The mash is then cooked and fermented in large vats, with the yeast from a previous batch (creating a sour mash). After fermentation, the fermented mash is distilled in large, copper stills. From the distilling process comes a 140-proof crystal clear alcohol spirit.

Fermenting the corn, rye. barley malt "mash"

One of several copper stills to distill the fermented mash

The freshly distilled whiskey is then filtered through the sugar maple charcoal. A series of pipes distributes the distilled whiskey drop by drop into large charcoal-packed tanks, where it slowly seeps through the charcoal filtering the grain oils remaining in the distilled whiskey, a process JD calls "mellowing". It takes about 12 days for a drop of the distilled whiskey to get to the bottom of a charcoal filtering tank.

The piping used to distribute distilled whiskey into the charcoal tanks drop-by-drop

A view of several charcoal filtering tanks

After filtering, the "mellowed" whiskey is reduced to 100 proof and put into white oak barrels for aging, and stacked several stories high in large barrel houses. Up to this point the whiskey has remained clear. The white oak barrels are hand-crafted, and charred on the inside to caramelize the white oak's natural sugars. The barrel aging process gives the whiskey its amber color, and adds to the distinctive flavor. The whiskey remains in a barrels until JD's expert tasters decide that each specific barrel is ready to be bottled.

One of the Jack Daniel's Barrel Houses

Stacks of JD Whiskey barrels aging in a Barrel House

Once aged, the whiskey is bottled, boxed, and packaged.

A Jack Daniel's Whiskey Packaging Line

The following are a few photos from the reception areas at the Jack Daniel's Distillery.

Here I am standing next to a life-size picture of Jack Daniels (he was rather short)

Part of the Tour Reception Area

Pete next to a replica Old No. 7 NASCAR Racing Car