Distillery Tour 2010 - Day One

Though this blog is mostly about my photographic endeavors, I like throwing in a little color from my life.  Really, it's moreso that since I have few organic blog readers, I like to update my friends and family on what I'm doing (other than facebook). My good friend Curt put together a "Mancation" with some friends through the great states of Tennessee and Kentucky touring as many distilleries as we can in 3 days.  Though whiskey and bourbon are not my drink of choice I figure that, similar to a trip to Napa Valley, it would bring to light a better appreciation of the art that lay behind the drink.   Plus, I've never travelled anywhere in an RV and I was really excited about a road trip not trapped in the back seat of a car.  So far, so good.

The epic began at Curt's place in Marietta (yes we hung out in the RV in the driveway for a good bit of time before we actually left in the morning).  Trevor cooked up his family chili recipie the night before so we'd have a hearty meal when we arrived at our campground in KY the next day.

In the morning, we woke up late (we had a little tasting session of our own the night before) and hit the road around 10.  We made it to Lynchburg, TN around lunch time and signed up for the tour.

We learned about the mashing process and how the first few stages of making whiskey are very similar it is to beer brewing (a hobby of mine).  From there comes the distilling, and then- to make Tennessee Whiskey specifically- it goes through the "mellowing" process.  This is the distinguishing factor between TN Whiskey and all other types. Mellowing, as Jack Daniels calls it, is charcoal filtering.  JD has a specific method in which they take Sugar Maple...

And burn it to make charcoal for the filtering:

From there, it is aged in oak barrels for years - they didn't say how long, but according to the George Dickel distillery folks, it's four years.... and that's where most of my pictures of the production sadly end.  Photos weren't allowed inside anywhere, but I did grab this one *illegal* shot of the barrels (from the hip, while walking next to the tour guide)

Other than that, we learned how Jack Daniels died.  Apparently he had a bit of a temper, and one day he couldn't get his safe open, so he got ticked and kicked it.... breaking a toe.  The toe became infected and turned to gangrene which eventually killed him over the course of a few years.  Here is the fabled safe:

After JD, we attempted to make a tour at the George Dickel distillery 20 minutes away, but missed the last tour by 45 minutes.  However, we did get some really awesome commentary on the distillery by a seasoned veteran at the company.  The man spoke with so much depth and heart that it reminded me a lot of this scene from Wayne's World.   To me, it made missing the tour worth it.

Since we have 4 distilleries on the docket tomorrow, don't expect a live update.... but I'll post more pics at some point.