After visiting the outside portion of the campus – the rickyard, cave spring, and office - we were led into a series of buildings, beginning with Distillery #1. No cameras were allowed from here to the end of the tour since we would be in some of the actual production areas. The guide talked to us about the coopers – the men who make the wooden casks that the whiskey is aged in. We watched the slow charcoal mellowing process – be ready when the guide lifts up the lid on these containers for a strong smell of the whiskey. Later we would enter part of the processing plant where bottles were being packaged up.
I enjoyed the area that showed the various types of whiskey – Gentleman Jack, Single Barrel, green label and the famous black label Old No. 7, etc. – with historical notes about them. At the end of the tour, we returned to the Visitor’s Center for a drink of lemonade – no alcohol in it; this is a dry county after all!
The small white building with a front porch next to the cave spring and bronze statue of Mr. Jack was his office. Inside the office is his desk and the safe. If the story is correct, Mr. Jack got angry one day because he couldn’t open the safe and he proceeded to kick the safe. The injury to his foot (this is a very sturdy safe!) became infected and he died as a result of this. True or not, it makes an interesting story.
Jack Daniel’s sourmash whiskey is only made here in Lynchburg – the only place in the world. The limestone cave spring is where the fresh water comes from. Given that we see Old No. 7 everywhere we travel (just about every pub and bar has a bottle of Jack on the shelf), it was surprising how small the cave of water was. Obviously there must be another water source. But this is the original location and the water was crystal clear; I’m sure today’s production standards are more mechanized and out of the romanticized view of touring guests. In front of the cave is a bronze statue of Mr. Jack, standing with one leg resting on a barrel.
Once your tour begins, you get into a small bus/van and head uphill to the Rickyard. This is where they make the charcoal for the mellowing process. It was outside and there were stacks of wood waiting to be made into charcoal in the large burners nearby. And just in case of fire getting out of hand, an old fire truck was on-hand.
After the Rickyard, we made our way to the limestone cave spring where the fresh water comes from for Jack Daniel’s whiskey.
Our tour of the distillery began here. Even if you have no desire to go on the tour, you can still spend some time in the Visitor’s Center with all the historic displays. The actual building is newer than the other buildings on the JD campus, just built in 1999. But it has that southern charm with its long wide front porch, chairs to relax in, and set near a stream and lots of old trees.
I was happy to find the white statue of Mr. Jack in the Visitor’s Center. This is the real thing – my dad had several replicas in his den (including one about three feet tall), so the statue itself was very familiar to me. But this one is much bigger and stands proudly in the middle of the Visitor’s Center. There is a shop where you can purchase some commemorative bottles, but most of the other souvenir type things you will need to buy in one of the shops in downtown Lynchburg.
Tours begin here daily from 9:00 am to 4:30 pm.
We drove to the Jack Daniel’s Distillery – the easiest way to get there – and parked at the Visitor’s Center. It was not hard to find since it is probably the biggest attraction in the small town of Lynchburg, which is the county seat of the smallest country (Moore) in Tennessee.
Tours run pretty regularly and we were here on a slow day so our group was small. Tours are daily from 9:00 am to 4:30 pm. For the first part of the tour, you are put onto a small bus/van and head up to the rickyard, returning to the spring and Mr. Jack’s office, where you leave the bus and continue on foot for the remainder of the tour. So be sure to wear comfortable shoes, because you’ll be going in and out of buildings and up and down stairs.
Photos are allowed on the tour in most places. Once inside the distillery itself put your cameras away because no photos are permitted there – and they watch pretty closely to be sure no one is taking them on the sly.
If you’ve been on distillery tours or brewery tours before, then you know that tours typically end with a sample of the product you’ve come to learn about. Not at Jack Daniel’s – we got a cool glass of lemonade. Why? Because Moore County is a dry county – meaning no alcohol can be sold or served in the county – and has been dry since Prohibition. This creates a booming business just on the other side of the county line for sure! The only alcohol you can purchase at the JD Distillery is commemorative bottles, for which they had to get a special dispensation to sell.
Our tour guide was extremely knowledgeable and has worked at the distillery many years. He took his time and was in no hurry to go through the tour; a nice change of pace from tours that rush you through with memorized scripts. He was more than willing to answer all our questions as he showed us around.
The tour is well worth the visit if you are anywhere near Lynchburg, Tennessee.
The story goes, Mr. Jack arrived early to work one day. He tried to retrieve some papers from his office safe, but couldn't remember the combination. In frustration he kicked the safe, which caused him to have a broken toe. An infection set in, which ultimately killed him...
After seeing the infamous safe on the distillery tour, go check out Jack Daniel's final resting place. Coming from the Lynchburg town square, go straight through the town's only light. Turn left on Church street and go straight until you enter the cemetery. Turn right on the 3rd driveway; he is located on the left just before the first intersection.
Old-timey town square, the focal point being a 100-year-old courthouse and bordered with restaurants and shops, you need to come here just to see. Most of the shops have the same type of stock (Jack Daniels t-shirts, charcoal briquettes, other JD merchandise) and the prices vary, although not by much. Several photo ops (see below). It was a pleasant way to spend the afternoon after the distillery tour.
Founded in 1866, this is the oldest registered distillery in the United States and is on the National Register of Historic Places. An active distillery - take the free tour, learn the history, and see how Jack Daniel's whiskey is made. I love factory tours, and this is a good one. The tours leave regularly (about every 15-20 minutes when we were there), and while you wait there is a mini-museum with artifacts and photos.
Lynchburg is in a dry county, so there are no free samples at the end of the tour - but you do get free lemonade or iced tea! You can purchase "commemorative" bottles of JD at the gift shop, and it is the only place in the county you can do so - remember, dry county.
NOTE: be sure to save your tour ticket, as you can redeem it in the town square for a FREE shot glass with $10 purchase.
The Jack Daniels distillery tour is great fun and really interesting. Even if it is not your tipple, I would recommend the tour. The town of Lynchburg is worth a visit too, very quaint. A word of note though, although Jack Daniels is made here, you will not be able to buy or drink it here as it is a 'dry state'!!!
Jack Daniel Distillery in Lynchburg, Tennessee is said to be the oldest registered in the whole of the U.S.A. (put your best southern accent on when saying that!).
We, along with our fellow visitors (1 Georgia native & 3 New Jersey natives) did the guided tour which took us through all the steps there are in the prodcution of sour mash Tennessee whiskey.
What was amazing was that not only could we Aussies barely understand the tour guide, but also the 4 abovementiond Americans had a great deal of difficulty understanding his accent it was that thick.
It was very interesting all the same and something I'd recommend doing if you find yourself in this neck of the woods at all. In fact I'd suggest
The tour runs all days except; Thanksgiving, Christmas eve day & Christmas Day, New Years eve day & New Year's Day. Tours run from 9.00 a.m. ti 4.30 p.m.
You have to take the distillery tour. You are shown around by people who actually worked in the distillery and make the product (not professional tour guides).
While it can take a few minutes to get past the accent (I'm from London, we don't have accents, everybody else does), it's well worth it.
As has been mentioned elsewhere, Lynchburg is in a dry county. That means that you cannot buy the drink there, even at the distillery.
When I visited a few years back, the distillery was celebrating a major anniversary and had obtained special permission to sell a 'special issue' bottle for that year only.
I think you can still buy the (empty) decanters
Tour hours are: 9:00 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.
LEAVE YOUR FULL NAME & ADDRESS IN THEIR VISITOR'S BOOK. I DID AND RECEIVED A FREE CALENDAR, XMAS CARD & OTHER GOODIES.
We're open every day except Thanksgiving, Christmas Eve day, Christmas, New Year's Eve day and New Year's Day. Tours last about an hour and fifteen minutes and start every fifteen minutes or so.
Due to Tennessee law, the White Rabbit Bottle Shop is closed on Sundays. It is also closed on the days the distillery is closed to visitors, as well as on certain holidays like the Fourth of July and Labor Day.
A visit to Lynchburg, would not be complete without touring the Moore County Jail. The tour is free, although the Historical Society thankfully accepts donations to help maintain the aged building. Once inside, you will not only see the various memorabilia from years gone by, but you may hear some of the stories and legends to go with them.
A steady drip of whiskey seeps slowly through 10 feet of crushed maple charcoal, pooling at the bottom of a vat before being barreled, aged, and bottled into Tennessee's most recognized product