Well, my wife and I ended up going on the distillery tour. I must say that we were very impressed and intrigued!! Very neat tour and lots of history in such a small town of only 361. Here are some pics:
The tour started with us visiting the top of the hill where they burn Sugar Maple timbers until the coals are the perfect size (about the size of 1" square). My camera wasn't functioning at that time or else I'd have pics of that part.
Here is where the natural spring begins and runs through the distillery. The water in these pics is used right in the whiskey (behind the Jack statue in the first pic):
Here'* the original office that JD used to work in. The legendary safe that he kicked that resulted in his death (got infected and he got gang green and died) is still in the exact same location from when it was place there over a century ago. The building is still in its original form:
The fermenting house was pretty basic. Nothing too fancy and out of the ordinary. Nonetheless, here are some pics:
Inside of a fermenting tank:
Now, what makes JD whiskey is that it'* sipping whiskey, not a bourban. Here'* the process where the whiskey drips over those sugar maple coals (pardon the glare, there was a glass top for show purposes):
The wiskey dripping from the pipes is pure 200 proof alcohol!! It drips for 1 week and then is diluted to bring it down to the 80 proof that we enjoy (until recently, 86 proof). It'* diluted with water from the natural spring. The tour guide rocked the lids of the dripping tanks up and down to fan out the smell from inside the tank and it was pure intoxicating!!! It made your nose hairs burn!!
It'* then stored in barrels for four years. JD makes their own white oak barrels for their exclusive use, and every barrel is only used once. The barrels are stored in the Barrel Houses (23 in Lynchburg!!!). The barrel houses hold over 100,000 barrels. Each barrel makes approximately 220 bottles (fifths)!!! Here are some barrel house pics:
The smell in the Barrel House was awesome!!!
The coolest part of the tour was the Single Barrel sales program. Anybody can pay to have a single barrel dedicated to themselve and they get to watch the whole process come together. When a single barrel is purchased, the purchaser gets exclusive rights to the barrel (pictured) and the commemorative bottles. Each bottle has a serial number and is indexed. The bottles also come in special boxes. You get all this for the low introductory rate of $9,000 a barrel!! Of course, you'll still have to wait four years for it to fermente too!
Workers bottling a single barrel:
Single Barrel and the cases ready for shipment:
Then...the coolest part is you get your name on a plaque on the wall:
Mr. George Straight was the only famous name that I could find on the wall after a quick glance!
Finally...here'* a pic of me!
Now, I just need to convince my wife that we need to buy a single barrel!