Getting to know Jack
Being unemployed, I’m always searching for a way to get out of town that doesn’t involve spending too much money. Funny enough, despite being so close to Tennessee, I never really go there on purpose. I’m always passing through on my way to other states. But I always swore, before I die or move out of the South (whichever happens first) I had to visit the Jack Daniel’s distillery. Kind of like a pilgrimage to Mecca… Except I worship at the altar of booze.
Because I hate being stuck in the car alone, I managed to convince my bartender friend to accompany me, citing the infinite educational value to be attained in learning about the whiskey distillation process. Early one Friday morning, we jumped in my car to make our journey to Lynchburg, TN. Now that I was actually paying attention to where I was driving, I realized: Tennessee is beautiful! Especially once you turn off the interstate for the final leg of the journey, traveling along winding country roads through dense forests and rolling hills. A blanket of fog lent the appearance of an impressionist painting with its hazy, muted colors.
Before making our way to the distillery, we made a pit stop at a liquor store. Know before you go: In a cruel twist of irony, the distillery is located in a dry county. You can buy commemorative bottles of Jack on site at the distillery, but there is nowhere in town to actually go get your drank on. However, on the bright side– the tour is 100% free. What surprised me was how far some of the other folks had come for this tour; California, Florida, even Canada… My friend and I had driven the shortest distance, and that was 3 hours!
The whole tour took about 90 minutes; it was extremely entertaining, despite the fact that we were not allowed to take photos of the most interesting parts (to keep some things a mystery, I reckon). By the end my brain was flooded with facts and trivia: For example, did you know Jack Daniel was only 5’2″? That’s my size!
At the end of the tour, we were given lemonade, which quickly became Lynchburg Lemonade after my friend busted out his flask full of JD Single Barrel. Hey– dry county or not– Jack would approve, and you know it.
Afterwards we drove into “downtown” Lynchburg… This is clearly an area that would dry up and blow away if not for the blessing of tourism. Every store in the town square was packed to the gills with Jack Daniels merchandise. If you can think of an item, it probably had the JD logo emblazoned on it: clothing, pool tables, dart boards, golf clubs, patio furniture, bar stools, barbecue grills, light switch covers…
And, of course:
Belt buckles! (In true redneck fashion, I have a collection.)
Next time you want to leave Atlanta, but don’t feel like venturing too far, get thee to Lynchburg!