The drive from Atlanta to Nashville is a leisurely, straight-forward three hour, 45 minute to four hour journey. Leave after breakfast and you get can be honky tonking by lunch.
Thus, a side journey to the world famous Jack Daniels Distillery in Lynchburg, Tennessee can be easily pulled-off with a little planning.
Here’s the first piece of advice, the first parking lot you see — that’s not the one to use, it’s the larger one on the opposite side on the street just a bit further down. You’ll know what I mean when you get there.
While getting a tour reservation in advance is the best route, depending on the day, you can stroll up and hop on one right there. As for what tour to get, I went with the mid-level baller tour or The Angel’s Share, it’s where you get five tasting flight of the rare, single barrel whiskys. At $22, it not that much more than the low baller The Flight of Jack Daniels tour where you get a flight of their flagship whiskys that you an get anywhere. The low budget, no drinking Dry tour is for idiots who bring their kids on a whisky tour.
As they will say repeatedly on the tour and on the grounds, Lynchburg is the only place where they make Jack Daniels. So the Jack Daniels they drink in Japan is the same one you drink at the Appleby’s in the Orlando Airport.
As far as tours goes, it’s good that it keeps moving, so you’re not standing around listening to a tour guide going through their talk. The highlight of the tour before you start drinking, as people will tell you, is smelling the mash.
What does is smelling like? It’s not so much a smell but the sensation of putting lava hot bullets in your nostrils for half a second. You’ll loose consciousness for a brief second. Sounds fun, right?
Along with the temporary brain damage, you’ll learn some fun trivia about Mr. Daniels, like he died from kicking a safe when he forgot the combo. He broke his toe, then lost his leg and then seven years later, his life. It wasn’t a romantic death like drinking to death on his own product.
Like with any distillery, winery or brewery tour, you have to wait until the end to start drinking. They giving you notes on how to properly taste whisky, what to look for and the barrel process. For this single barrel tour, you taste the No. 27 Gold, Sinatra Select (their priciest), Single Barrel Select, Single Barrel Proof (their highest alcohol content) and Single Barrel Rye. Since I am a man of high taste, the $100 a bottle of the Sinatra was my favorite.
Now, I still don’t understand how Lynchburg is a dry town, but you can buy Jack Daniels in the gift shop in the main hall. It’s something like they sell you the bottle, and they but in the whisky for free. Whatever, just change the damn laws. Get with the 21st Century. In any event, there’ no exclusive whisky you can’t get anywhere else, but they have limited edition gift boxes and glass bottles that you can etch with your name. Not my thing.
Plan about 2-2.5 hours for this side trip. You can skip the trip into the block of the town of Lynchburg where the gift shop is if you’re short on time, Everything they sell you can get online, but I picked up whisky scented candles and a coaster made from barrel wood.