Nestled in the tiny town of Lynchburg, Tenn. is Jack Daniel Distillery – the oldest register distillery in the U.S. Surprisingly and despite the fact that Old No. 7 produces million of cases of whiskey each calendar year, the town of Lynchburg itself is dry.
Many misunderstand the reason for this fact. All counties in the state of Tennessee are dry by default. This is a throw back to the state’s Prohibition, which began in 1910 – ten years prior to U.S. Prohibition, which began in 1920 and continued until 1933. In order to sell “intoxicating liquor” a Tennessee county must pass a “local option” referendum vote changing it from dry to wet. Lynchburg has never held such a vote and thus remains dry.
There is one exception. Visitors can purchase a commemorative bottle at the distillery’s White Rabbit Bottle Shop located inside the Jack Daniel Visitor’s Center. A larger portion of the tax of those bottles goes to Metropolitan Moore County.
In 1998, the city of Lynchburg and Moore County consolidated into a metropolitan form of government to prevent encroachment by a neighboring county. It now exists as one of three metropolitan governments in the state of Tennessee, which includes Nashville/Davidson County and Hartsville/Trousdale County.
Jasper Newton Daniel established the distillery near the cool, iron-free water of a cave spring near the Lynchburg town square. The distillery’s whiskey is still produced from that cave spring today.
Jack Daniel never married or had children. In 1907, Daniel passed on the whiskey-making facility to his favorite nephew, Lem Motlow. Jack Daniel died in 1911 from blood poisoning after losing his temper one morning and kicking a safe in his office.
In 1947, Lem Motlow died and bequeathed the distillery to his children: Robert, Reagor, Dan, Conner, and Mary. In 1956, the Motlow family sold the distillery to the Brown-Forman Corporation of Louisville, Ky. – who continue to run it today and who have transformed the “Tennessee whiskey” into its flagship brand.
Since it purchased the distillery, Brown-Forman has added several products to the brand family to now include: Jack Daniel Black Label, Jack Daniel Green Label, Gentleman Jack, Jack Daniel Single Barrel and Jack Daniel Tennessee Honey.
The Jack Daniel Visitor’s Center is open seven days a week. Free, public tours are available from 9 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. It closes only five days each year: Thanksgiving, Christmas Eve, Christmas, New Year’s Eve, and New Year’s Day.
The tour is an manufacturing tour that requires a fair amount of walking. It takes both inside the distillery’s various buildings as well as outside.
The distillery is located on Highway 55 in Lynchburg. For more information, call (931) 759-6184.