I’ve been trying to make it to the Jack Daniel’s distillery for years.
One of the first real roadtrips that I ever went on was an attempted pilgrimage to the distillery – My friend Big T and I rented a car from Boston, and took the roads (we actually used an atlas to plan the trip, instead of the current “just Google it, dummy” model) down to Tennessee.
But instead of making it there, we got snowed in at the campsite we chose. Literally the worst snowstorm of the last 10 years hit Virginia the night that we set up our tent. So… we took half a day to dig out and clean up, and then gave up on trying to follow the snow-clogged roads. We turned around, defeated.
This time, I was already in Chattanooga. I couldn’t turn around and give up – My goal was still far to the West of me. So, I finally made it.
The distillery was big… a lot bigger than I expected, but smaller than I logically assumed it must be. After all, every drop of Jack Daniel’s Whiskey comes out of this one facility – they don’t have any secondary distilleries or anything. So from that perspective, it was pretty small. Meh. Whatever. It was awesome!
Trivia facts from the tour:
- All the Whiskey is made with water from a small cave near the back of the distillery. The water comes from deep in the Tennessee mountains… and by that, they mean that no one knows where it actually originates. But it’s super pure and clear, and I really wanted to explore the cave. But they wouldn’t let me.
- Jack’s whiskey is aged in barrels, duh. But they don’t re-use the barrels… so they sell them. To, for example, Tabasco sauce is aged in old Jack Daniel’s barrels.
- Much of the equipment that they use in the distillery is almost identical to what I used to help design at Artisan Industries. Neat.
- Jack Daniel’s himself died when he came into work early one day, and couldn’t get into the main safe. He got so frustrated that he gave the safe a swift kick… leading to a broken toe, which became infected, which led to the end of his life.
Which leads to the moral of the story – don’t go into work early. Haha. So funny. I stole that from the tour guide.
- You can buy entire barrels of Jack Daniels – and if you do, they’ll put you/your groups name on a plaque in a special room. Some of the people who have bought these barrels… maybe are a bit worrying. Nuclear Operators of Illinois, for example. Or Boeing Aircraft maintenance and repair.
After the tour, I headed into the main town; which is basically just one huge JD gift shop. I debated getting something, but nothing was that useful or interesting, if we’re being completely honest with ourselves here.
So instead, I got some BBQ dinner at The Barrel House – a local place that’s been mentioned in a fair number of shows and articles for it’s excellent food. And I loved it – simple and efficient. They served it all with picnic style; paper plates and plastic forks, with a big glass of lemonade. And the pulled pork was amazing… I love me some pulled pork, and this was some of the best I’ve ever had.
And then I headed back onto the road toward Oklahoma.