Thursday, August 30, 2012

Whiskey & Rags

The Jack Daniels Distillery is in Lynchburg, Tennessee, a city in the dry Moore County. The tour guides and locals like to joke that the only shot of Jack on the rocks you’ll get in Lynchburg is a picture of Jack Daniel’s statue on its stone pedestal, outside the original offices from the nineteenth century.
You might not get to taste it, but they’ll show you where it’s distilled, the pure spring water in the old cave that they’ve been using for over 150  years, and let you take huge whiffs of the mash and the charcoal vats used for distillation. 

They’ll take you through Jack Daniel’s offices, to show you his desk, his instruments, photographs of him standing tall at 5’2’’, and the safe that killed him.

The story goes that he came in to work one morning and couldn’t get the old safe to open. Stubborn and aggravated, he eventually kicked the damn thing, causing an infection in his toe. When they couldn’t kill it, they had to amputate, and chased the infection up his toe, into his foot, below his knee, until eventually his whole leg had to be cut off. Six years after kicking the bucket safe, he died of a gangrene infection, and left his distillery to his favorite nephew.

They'll show you the black mold that covers the buildings and the trees around the distillery, evidently a fungus growth caused by the evaporating alcohol in the distillation process.
During Prohibition, the authorities would track illegal stills using the mold, finding areas of the forest with black tree bark--that also probably smelled strongly of whiskey...

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