To fill up before our distillery tour, we paid Lynchburg Fix’ns a visit. We ate a Mr Fix’ns breakfast (eggs, sausage, home fries, biscuits and gravy), and a breakfast bowl (very similar, but a smaller portion in a bowl). Biscuits and gravy is another Southern tradition we’re getting into; imagine a plain scone covered in thick sausage gravy. It’s staple cuisine here.
We bumped into Judy and Hank who gave us a lift back up to the cottage in their road legal golf cart!
We’re walking distance from the Jack Daniel’s distillery and had booked onto the midday ‘Angel’s Share’ tasting tour. The ‘angel’s share’ being what’s lost through evaporation during the distilling process.
Cave Spring Hollow is the natural water source Jack Daniel’s use to make the whiskey – it’s a consistent temperature (56 degrees Fahrenheit/13 degrees Centigrade), and is filtered through limestone which takes any iron out of the water – iron is an enemy to the whiskey distilling process. The distillery is centred around this site.
The different smells you get walking around are fantastic; bready, smoky, sweet, and we even got the chance to sniff 140 proof whiskey being filtered through house made charcoal; well on its way to becoming the Tennessee sippin’ whiskey we love. The distillery makes its own charcoal from sugar maple, by burning pallets of the wood and crushing the cinders to filter the whisky through. It takes on the taste of the maple as it’s literally drip fed through huge vats of this charcoal.
The last stage in the process is the barrelhouse. Left to age and mellow in hand built oak barrels, which are held together without glue or nails; just metal hoops and their own pressure; the whisky takes on the colour and flavour of the wood which has been charred inside to bring out its natural sugars.
As the temperature fluctuates in the barrelhouses; over time the whisky develops. When the wood expands in the heat, the whisky seeps into the oak, and gets pushed back out as the wood contracts when the temperature cools.
We tasted 5 whiskeys, our favourite being the Single Barrel Rye. Purchasing a single barrel of Jack will set you back around $9,000 – $12,000. If you work at the distillery however, you get a free bottle with every pay check!
For a late lunch we ate at our soon to be favourite music venue; the BBQ Caboose Cafe. Sharing ribs and a pulled pork topped jacket potato, we were the last customers of the day as they close up at 4:30pm this time of year.
We had a supper invite from Judy and Hank, and spent the last of the daylight together, along with gorgeous Old English Sheepdogs Temperance and Prudence, suppin’ ‘a pair of Jacks’ (Jack Daniel’s drizzled with Jack Daniel’s Honey over ice), in their back yard, learning more about one another’s lives and families, before heading to the dining room table.
Judy cooked us all ribs, butternut squash and apples baked in butter and sugar. It was a wonderful evening; we were so touched being invited into their home and to their table. There’s a sign above the kitchen door in Mulberry Cottage: ‘Enter as strangers, leave as friends’, and it couldn’t be more true.