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  1. #1

    A Tour of Jack Daniel's

    I revisited Jack Daniel's today with an ear toward learning instead of simply sightseeing, and found out a number of things I found interesting -- although, quite possibly, most of you already know them.
    For example:
    • The JD stillhouse contains five 40-foot column stills. They do not, however -- and this may be why the rumor goes around occasionally that they only single-distill -- each contain a doubler. The single 'doubler' sits at the base of the five columns, which direct their flow to it. The guide indicated, however, that JD definitely is double-distilled.
    • The whiskey comes off the still (before the 'doubler') at 140 proof, and goes into the barrels at 115 proof. It comes out of the barrel anywhere from 115 to 130 proof.
    • The green-label Old #7 comes from the bottom floor(s) of each warehouse, where it does not mature in a short enough period of time to reach the maturity desired for black-label Old #7. That's why, too, there is so little of it and they can only distribute it narrowly. Single Barrel only comes from the 7th (top) floors.
    • Old #7, both black- and green-label, and Gentleman Jack are from 4-6 years old. Single Barrel is 6-8.
    • The five stills, when all operating at the same time, can put off 80 gallons of 140-proof whiskey a minute.
    • The heads and tails are removed twice (sort of) from some Jack Daniel's -- off the still, and when the charcoal is changed in a mellowing vat. The first and last batches to be put through each vat is redistilled. Each vat of charcoal is changed about every 6 months.
    • They soak the sugar-maple ricks with 140-proof whiskey as 'lighter fluid' in order to burn them.
    • There are 78 Jack Daniel's warehouses scattered in the hills around Lynchburg, containing 20-30 million gallons of barrel-proof whiskey -- or, about 9 years worth at the current proof and rate of sales.
    • the cave from which Cave Spring get its name burrows a mile back into the hill before it becomes too narrow to be further explored. The water exits the cave (see below) at 56 degrees F year-round, and is used as is during fermentation. Demineralized water is used to lower the whiskey from barrel- to bottle proof.
    • Jack Daniel's propagates its yeast naturally (not from powdered yeast) onsite.
    • Other miscellania: The Lem Motlow brand was made from 1939 to 1992 (I thought it ended much earlier); the safe Jack Daniel kicked which indirectly led to his death several years later, still sits in his old office, which is part of the tour; a largely unknown Daniel hand-carried his whiskey by train to the 1904 World's Fair competition in St. Louis, where it was judged 'best' of 20 submitted; there is no on-site gift shop, but nearly all of downtown Lynchburg -- just two blocks away -- carries JD items (a Jimmy Bedford-signed, finished barrel is $120).

    Cave Spring2.JPEGCharcoal vat.JPEG
    Mouth of Cave Spring, left, and a maple-charcoal mellowing vat, right (viewed from the top)
    Last edited by TNbourbon; 04-07-2006 at 16:55.
    Tim

  2. #2
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    Tim, this is really interesting stuff. Whats the deal with him kicking a safe though?

  3. #3
    Quote Originally Posted by brian12069
    Tim, this is really interesting stuff. Whats the deal with him kicking a safe though?
    Mr. Jack, as he was referred to, tried unsuccessfully several times one morning (in 1905 or '06, I'd have to look it up) to open his office safe, lost his temper and kicked it, breaking his toe. It became infected, and eventually was amputated, but too late. Gangrene spread, and he later had his leg removed, first to the knee, then higher still. Finally, in 1911, the infection became systemic blood poisoning, and killed him.
    Kicked safe.JPG
    The lethal appliance (the door reportedly was repainted for each new 'proprietor')
    Last edited by TNbourbon; 04-07-2006 at 16:29.
    Tim

  4. #4
    Bourbonian of the Year 2011
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    That's great data, Tim, many thanks for taking the time to elicit this information.

    Now we know: Jack Daniels IS doubled.

    I wonder about Silver Select, do you think it is a special version of the top floor whiskey?

    Gary

  5. #5
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    I was wondering the same thing and I still haven't tried the stuff.

  6. #6
    Quote Originally Posted by Gillman
    That's great data, Tim, many thanks for taking the time to elicit this information.

    Now we know: Jack Daniels IS doubled.

    I wonder about Silver Select, do you think it is a special version of the top floor whiskey?

    Gary
    Coincidentally, Gary, we watched them bottle the last couple of cases of a Single Barrel, and they immediately broke out the glass and boxes for Silver Select as we were standing there today. They were about to bottle it.
    So, of course, the question was asked: "What's the difference?" Apparently, the only difference is the proof -- Silver Select, also single-barrel, is bottled at 100.
    Tim

  7. #7
    Bourbonian of the Year 2011
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    That's great Tim, many thanks. It means that proof makes a difference to the taste of JD. Maybe the extra ethanol "dilutes" the candy-like taste.

    This may explain too why I like HH in higher proof versions (e.g. Fighting Cock), the eucalyptus-like scents (talk about Cab analogies) are dampened yet oddly enhanced by the high proof background, I find.

    Gary
    Last edited by Gillman; 04-07-2006 at 19:11.

  8. #8
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    Thanks Tim for the info. Post more pictures if you have them! I have wanted to get down there and see JD for a long time. Maybe this summer.
    Simplicity is the essence of universality - MK Ghandi

  9. #9
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    Tim,

    I must thank you for a very informative post. I did know some but there were many new things to learn. Biggest one of cause the fact that JD is double distilled. There did one of my illusions fly away. Another is the fact that silver select is the same whiskey as the normal SB. To be honest I could have taken poison for the opposite.

    Leif
    Swedish lover of American whiskey

  10. #10
    Keep in mind that, being single-barrels, there are going to be some differences between any two barrels, whether JD Single Barrel or Silver Select, even besides proof. No two barrels will be exactly alike. To say that they are the 'same', to me, just indicates that the selection process is the same. Whiskeys from two different barrels, whether within or across the two labels/proofs, may be either similar or remarkably different.
    Tim

 

 

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