Iconic whiskey brand Jack Daniel’s invited our team out to Lynchburg, TN last month for the ultimate tour of their legendary distillery, via an experience they dub “Camp Jack”.
Not only did we get an exclusive behind the scenes tour, but we were put to work and played a part of making Jack Daniel’s.
We started off our tour in Trinity, Alabama, where the Jack Daniel’s Cooperage is located. Every barrel of the brand’s whiskey starts by carefully selecting American white oak lumber from the Northern Ozark and Appalachian forest regions.
The wood from the three regions are then milled and delivered to the Cooperage, where the wood sits carefully to be dried and aged. If the wood is dried too quickly, it can allow leakage through cracks and splits. Once the barrels are cut and crafted, they’re then sent over to be toasted and charred. Toasting the barrels is what gives Jack Daniel’s its color and flavor from the oak. 800 barrels are handcrafted and made daily.
After the cooperage, we departed to Lynchburg, TN to the Jack Daniel’s Distillery. After lunch, we were dropped off in front of the Cave Springs to start our tour.
Cave Springs serves as the main water supply for Jack Daniel’s Whiskey. We had a chance to taste the spring water that makes Jack Daniel’s so unique. After a couple of sips of whiskey, we were put to work at the RickYard. This is where maple charcoal is made to used to mellow the whiskey. The sugar maple is stacked and lit with a blow torch and sprayed with 140 proof of whiskey to help the flames spread throughout the sugar maple. It takes about two hours to burn all the way down, and then it is hosed with water to cool off in order to prevent the wood from becoming ashes.
Moving on to the distillery, we found ourselves at the fermenting room, where we got a chance to taste the different mashes in their difference stages of fermentation.
The mellowing house is what makes Jack Daniel’s one of a kind. The sugar maple charcoal that is burned and cooled is packed 10 feet high in mellowing vats. The whiskey slowly drips, drop by drop, through 10 feet of the sugar maple charcoal.
Then, the quality control room where the whiskey is bottled, labeled, and placed in boxes for distribution. The assembly line is a well-oiled machine; it was pretty amazing to watch the workers put on labels so precise and fast. We got a chance to put our skills to the test and placed a label on a bottle ourselves.
After a fulfilled day of making whiskey, it was time for us to taste some. Seventh master distiller Jeff Arnett first took us to the top floor of one of 81 aging warehouses to taste whiskey straight out of a barrel. We then made our way back down to the distillery to have a whiskey tasting class with Jeff, where we started by tasting the difference between Jack Daniel’s whiskey before it has mellowed and after it has been mellowed.
We also tasted Jack Daniel’s Old No. 7 black label, Single Barrel, Gentleman’s Jack, Tennessee Honey and Tennessee Fire.
We had a great time visiting and learning about Jack Daniel’s. If you are ever in Tennessee, we suggest that you go on a tour of the distillery. It will help you appreciate your Jack even that much more. Visit JackDaniels.com for more info.
Special thanks to Nelson Eddy,Jeff Arnett, Chris Fletcher and everyone at Camp Jack for a great week!