It was going to be a two and a half hour drive from Chattanooga to Nashville. About halfway there our clocks changed from EST to CST. It was suddenly 10am! At about the same time we see the brown road sign indicating a tourist site~Historic Jack Daniel’s Whiskey Distillery. Quickly Hali, the navigator, checked to see how far off the interstate this historic landmark is. Next exit, about 30 miles. Without hesitation, I took the exit. Why not? Time was on our side. This was no longer a road trip, it was a pilgrimage.
Now, we aren’t Jack Daniel’s drinkers, not even imbibers of whiskey, but Jack Daniel’s is legendary as far as distilled spirits go. And as a bit of a history buff looking to celebrate this historic week, it was time to venture off the beaten Nashville path to take this hike along the whiskey trail.
Ironically, the tiny town of Lynchburg is settled in a dry county and every drop, every bottle of Jack Daniel’s booze, is made right here.
Five Jack Daniel’s Fun Facts
- Jack Daniel’s distilling mentor was a former slave. As his first employee and right-hand man, Nathan “Nearest” Green provided Jack with the expertise on the distillation process of whiskey.
- Jack Daniel was only five feet two. As demonstrated by this photo, just as tall as Hali. But the larger than life moonshiner is represented by a bronze statue which is six inches taller than he was. Likely to illustrate his status in the community.
- Jack Daniel isn’t Jack Daniel’s real name. The man was actually named Jasper Newton Daniel, but his friends called him Jack.
- Jack Daniel’s isn’t a bourbon, it’s a Tennessee Whiskey. The only difference is an additional step during the production process; the distilled whiskey goes through sugar-maple charcoal filtration for a few days to mellow the spirit before aging. By law it cannot be called a Bourbon.
- No one knows what the No.7 on Jack Daniel’s label represents. There have been many legends and speculations, but still the No.7 remains a mystery, or well-kept secret.
Unfortunately, Jack died at age 61. Story goes that as he got up early one morning, not something he’d generally do, and was the first one in the office. Leaving town that day, he needed some cash. With his head still hurtin’ from the night before, he forgot the combination to this safe. Frustrated, and ticked off, he gave it a swift kick and broke his toe. The toe never healed, even after dipping it every night in whiskey, and the poor toe continued to fester until gangrene set in. That was the end of Jack Daniel. They like to say the moral to this story is…never go to work early.
The Tour Continues…
It’s whiskey tasting time! Time to sample the age old work and dedication to the craft of Jack Daniel.
Like I said before, we aren’t whiskey drinkers so could’t describe the subtleties with each taste. However, the last three whiskeys were sweet: honey, apple, and fire. For me, each had the candy sweetness of a Jolly Rancher you’d find down the candy aisle at the five-and-dime in Lynchburg. Tasty!
So, if ever in this neck of the woods, Jack Daniel’s is a detour worth taking. Even if you’re not a whiskey drinker, you gotta give it a shot. Go ahead, say WHISKEY!