Earlier this month, the folks at Jack Daniel’s flew us down to Lynchburg, Tennessee to visit the iconic Jack Daniel’s Distillery, where the world-famous Old No. 7 has been produced for over 150 years, to learn firsthand about how their Tennessee Whiskey is made.
As someone who’s been drinking Jack Daniel’s for the greater part of 20 years, I was excited to learn more about the brand’s history of making whiskey, and the man behind it.
Our journey began in Nashville, about an hour and a half north of Lynchburg. During our ride to the distillery, our guide gave us some history about Jasper Newton Daniel (Jack), and the interesting road that led him to start Jack Daniel’s Tennessee Whiskey.
Born in 1849, Jack Daniel was the youngest of 10 children, with his mother dying shortly after his birth (likely due to complications from childbirth). A few years later, his father remarried and had another 3 children with his new wife. Jack leaves home at a very young age and he is taken in by Reverend Dan Call, where he works on the family farm. And on his farm, he had a still, which Jack quickly took interest in it.
It’s here where Jack learns the art of whiskey making from the preacher and his head distiller, Nathan “Nearest” Green. In 1866, Call decides to focus on his calling as a minister, selling his whiskey business to Jack. Jack in turn hires Nearest as his Master Distiller. A few years later, they open the now-famous distillery in Lynchburg, and the rest is history.
A short while later, we arrived at the Jack Daniel’s Distillery, and gathered together for a VIP tour hosted by none other than Assistant Master Distiller Chris Fletcher! As you can imagine, he’s got extensive knowledge of the whiskey making process, which he shared with us in great detail as he took us through the entire facility.
Not only that, but Fletcher is actually the grandson of retired Master Distiller Frank Bobo, the distillery’s fifth master distiller from 1966-89. Needless to say, whiskey is in his blood.
The first stop on our tour was Cave Spring Hollow, which houses Lynchburg’s greatest natural resource – clean, pure, spring water. The cave’s layers of limestone naturally impart a variety of minerals to the water which contribute to Jack Daniel’s character. More importantly, the limestone also removes iron (which is bad if you are making whiskey) from the water.
Did you know that every bottle of Jack Daniel’s sold around the world is made with water from this source? I actually got to take a drink from the spring, and it was perhaps the purest water that I’ve ever tasted.
From here, we made our way to the Rickyard, where they stack 5-foot tall pallets of hard super maple, douse them in raw, unaged whiskey, before setting the wood ablaze. The inferno peaks at over 2,000 degrees Fahrenheit before burning down into smoldering embers. The resulting charcoal is used in the charcoal mellowing process.
We got to take part in this process, and it was pretty wild, the heat getting so intense that you had to walk away after awhile or risk getting burned. How these guys manage to keep cool in the hot Tennessee summers is beyond me, but my hats off to them.
Afterwards, we walked down to the Distillery Building, where we got to learn more about the whiskey making process including the whiskey stills, the fermenting tanks and the charcoal-mellowing vats. That last part is perhaps the most important, filtering the 140-proof, unaged whiskey drop by drop through 10 feet of handcrafted charcoal.
It’s this extra step that imparts the distinctive smoothness you have come to expect from Jack Daniel’s, and it’s what makes this a Tennessee Whiskey and not a bourbon.
Next, this whiskey goes into American White Oak barrels that are hand-built at Jack Daniel’s Cooperage. Once assembled, the barrel’s interior is toasted and charred using a proprietary method to coax the wood’s natural sugars out and caramelize them. The whiskey enters the barrel colorless and raw, but during the maturation process, the whiskey draws all of its rich amber color and much of its distinctive flavor from the barrels.
As you can imagine, if Jack Daniel’s were to reuse their barrels, they’d get diminishing returns, as the first batch of whiskey already draws out most of the flavor from the barrel. That’s why they only use a barrel once, after which they sell them off to third-parties.
Interestingly enough, a number of variables determine how long a barrel of whiskey stays in the barrelhouse, including the barrel itself and where it’s located in the barrelhouse. Barrels located on the upper floors (where temperature changes are more extreme) tend to mature faster than barrels on the lower floors, where it’s generally cooler.
So rather than rely on age, a team of whiskey tasters sample each and every barrel to decide when they’re ready for bottling. Master Distiller Jeff Arnett showed us this process by bringing us to one of the barrelhouses and taking us up to the 6th floor, where he tapped into a couple of barrels and let us sample them right from the source. In a word.. incredible!
If that wasn’t enough, they also set up a tasting for us, where we got to sample every product in their portfolio, including Jack Daniel’s Old No. 7, Gentleman Jack, Single Barrel Select, Rye, Honey, Fire, and more. I really enjoyed the Single Barrel Select, but Honey and Fire were also standouts for me, and I definitely need to pick up a few bottles of these for myself.
Overall, I had a great time visiting the Jack Daniel’s Distillery and seeing everything that they have to offer, and I’d highly recommend taking the tour if you’re coming through Tennessee, even if you’re not a whiskey drinker. There’s a ton of history here, and it’s sure to give you a newfound respect for Jack Daniel’s, and the man who started it all.
Bud Light Kicks Off The Football Season With Two New ‘Dilly Dilly’ Spots
I don’t know about you, but I just cannot get enough of those hilarious Bud Light Dilly Dilly commercials. And lucky for us, Bud Light is back with two new “Dilly Dilly” ads to celebrate the long-awaited return of the NFL football season.
Bud Lights For Everyone:
During the college football kickoff weekend, Bud Light previewed this spot, which depicts our regal King gifting his kingdom’s loyal habitants with his favorite light lager, Bud Light, when one of the pub patrons asks for a mead. The ad highlights the one friend in every group who tries to show off their sophisticated palette, even when it contradicts the group’s preference.
This commercial introduces two new characters from the neighboring kingdom, Count and Countess Pamplemousse. The Pamplemousse’s represent the snobby friends you always seem to invite to a party. Royal Affair celebrates Bud Light as the light lager of choice for a large group of friends (and foes).
Here’s hoping that these two are just the first in a long line of Dilly Dilly commercials that run throughout the season!
Busch Light Gets In On The Pumpkin Spice Latte Craze With ‘Busch Latte’
Last week, Starbucks announced that they were bringing back their Pumpkin Spice Latte, and Busch Light wasted no time in getting in on the action by temporarily rebranding Busch Light as Busch Latte, and sharing a photo of the new can on Twitter.
As expected, Twitter lost their collective minds, with people rushing out to score some Busch Latte of their very own. The only problem? It’s not real. No, it’s just a clever marketing stunt that pokes fun at the PSL craze. Well played Busch Light!
But they didn’t stop there. In addition to the photoshopped Busch Latte cans on Twitter, they also rolled out a series of mobile #BuschLatte billboards in St Louis, Los Angeles, New York and Chicago, parking outside of various Starbucks for the ultimate in trolling.
While you can’t get your hands on any physical Busch Latte cans, you can snag some sweet Busch Latte merch here, with a selection of shirts and coozies to choose from.
Here’s hoping that AB actually released some Busch Latte cans, as I’d definitely buy them! 🙂
Bud Light Victory Fridges To Reward Fans Upon Cleveland Browns’ First Win
To say that the Cleveland Browns have been on a losing streak would be putting it mildly. The team has only won a single game in the past two seasons. In fact, Johnny Manziel was the last quarterback to win a game for the Browns. Pretty crazy, right?
Bud Light believes in the Browns though, and to show their support they’ve rolled out a bunch of Victory Fridges across various Cleveland watering holes, filled with ice-cold Bud Light. The only catch? These fridges are currently locked.
Featuring a smart-technology, all of the Victory Fridges will simultaneously unlock after the Browns capture their first regular-season victory and snap their winless streak, giving fans 21 and over the chance to enjoy the sweet taste of victory together. Dilly Dilly!
“The Bud Light Browns ‘Victory Fridge’ is a fun way to celebrate and reward a fanbase that has never wavered in enthusiasm or dedication for their team no matter what happens. We’re proud to show our support for Cleveland, and we’re always looking to bring NFL fans and friends together for memorable experiences. It’s going to be fun to be part of the celebration when the team earns their first victory of the season,” said Andy Goeler, Vice-President of Marketing, Bud Light.
Here’s hoping that Bud Light has a good shelf life, because I just don’t see the Browns’ losing streak ending anytime soon. 🙂