Reviewed on Fri 22 Jan, 2016
Massive, smoothly organised tour that will interest whiskey beginners and JD fans but doesn't have enough points of difference for the regular distillery visitor.
After visiting Nashville for a night I drove back to Alabama by way of Jack Daneil's. This distillery doesn't need any further introductions so I will just jump straight into it!
First impressions: This is a massive, well known distillery. I was there on a Sunday and it was moderately busy but I guess a Saturday here would be properly packed out. It's a bit out of the way but the surroundings are nice and the main visitors centre has plenty of objects and memorabilia to gander at while you wait for your tour to start.
The Tour: The tour starts from the front of the building. No bags are allowed at all so bear this in mind and leave your stuff in the car - for whatever reason they are worried about Terrorism or random acts of arson. I guess it's fair enough when you consider just how flammable a rickhouse is and how big a target a company like JD would be. Anyway, the bus leaves from the main hall entrance and drives past Lynchburg's main square, and up a hill to a Rickhouse. Again - you're not allowed in here. All they'll let you do is put your head into a door to look at some barrels and then you're off on the bus again. Not very exciting.
After another 20 second drive the bus pulls up and you're asked to stay behind if you can't walk up a hundred or so stairs. Not a the same time mind you - just over the course of the tour. Weird but I guess someone in the past expected to use an elevator and so now they ask. America is odd sometimes. From here you're shown the rickyard, then the limestone cave which acts as a water source for all JD, then the original tiny office that Jack himself built. Inside that office is the safe that killed the man - well the infection he got from breaking his foot really. But it's still an interesting story.
You're then led into a building and up some stairs where one person with about 12 screens controls most of the distilling production. It pours through the still here, like a water fountain. Quite something to see. The process of "charcoal mellowing" is explained and the charcoal vats given royal treatment. What they don't mention is they need this process to make sure the whisky doesn't taste like arse because they don't cut heads or tails here. That's what I was told anyway...
The tour ends with a trip through the single barrel select programme and bottling plant, then it's back on the bus to end the tour. I didn't do the tasting here because I was driving so I can't offer any feedback on that. The gift shop here is also pretty disappointing - there's nothing you can't buy elsewhere for the same amount of money so I left empty handed...a first for me!
Overall: This is a very professionally run, very scripted tour. When you're the size of JD, I guess that's the way it has to be... not a bad tour overall especially if you have a fondness for Jack but there's not much here for anyone who is a regular distillery visitor. Excellent BBQ a short walk down the lane in Lynchburg village though!
Address: 182 Lynchburg Highway, Lynchburg, TN 37352, United States
Phone: +1 931-759-6357
Hours: Open most days between 9:00 am – 5:30 pm