North Jefferson News, Gardendale, AL

April 3, 2013

Danielle Cater: You’re never to old to learn new things

You’re never to old to learn new things

By Danielle Cater
North Jefferson News

AN NJN EDITORIAL — If you have ever traveled north on Interstate 65 toward Nashville, then you have, inevitably, seen the signs for the Jack Daniels Distillery. I attended college in Nashville and I can remember always thinking that would be a neat tour to take, but I figured you had to be 21 to go.

Later on, I discovered that the distillery is actually located in a dry county, and there is no minimum age to tour the facilities. As the years have passed, I had completely forgotten about the tour until a couple of weeks ago.

My husband surprised me with a day of adventure which began with a hike through Hurricane Park in Cullman. After the hike, we drove for what seemed like days until we approached our destination in Lynchburg, Tenn., at the distillery.

The signs lead you to believe that the destination will only be a few miles off the interstate; well, the signs are deceiving. After another hour off of I-65, we finally arrived at Jack Daniels, and it is really a nice looking facility.

The grounds are kept to perfection with well manicured lawns, beautiful greenery and trees, and they even have their own zoo-like wildlife with full-grown turkeys, ducks, squirrel and pigeons. And let me tell you, those animals aren’t scared of any human. They would practically walk right up to you.

The one thing that really catches your attention is the smell. Of course with that size of a distillery, there is bound to be an odor, but it’s quite bearable once you get used to it.

We signed up for our tour, and were told that in an hour we would have our guided tour through the premises. We got some coffee and lemonade and made our way around the rooms, taking time to read all of the interesting facts about Jack and his early days that were penned in the waiting areas.

After a moment, I began to feel a little sick at my stomach, but I figured it had more to do with the long hike at the beginning of the day and the lack of a hearty lunch to go along with it.

When the tour started, one of the first things we did was hop on a bus and ride to the top of a hill, where we were told we would be walking back down throughout the tour. Normally this would be no big deal, but with the freezing weather, cold rain and an upset stomach, I was struggling to keep my thoughts positive.

We learned some very interesting facts about how to make whiskey and about the tedious process that each bottle of Jack goes through. Although I am not a whiskey drinker, it was rather intoxicating just to hear about.

Everything seemed to be going well until we entered the brew house. As I’m trying to keep my lunch down and my head held high, we entered into a room with a distinct, whiskey odor that would knock the socks off any alcoholic. I rushed to the back of the room and waited for the OK to exit. Once out of there, I was pretty sure it was smooth sailing from then on, but I couldn’t have been more wrong. We went to two more houses where the liquid gold was aged and barrelled, and by the time it was over, I couldn’t get to the car quick enough.

I believe most people buy a bottle of Jack Daniels as a souvenir or for special occasions after the tour, but the only thing that tour made me want was to never taste whiskey (or smell it for that matter) for the rest of my life.

After leaving the distillery — and being sick for the rest of the night— I realized one other thing: I really do enjoying learning new and interesting facts about things, even if they are facts that I will never use in normal life. When telling my friend about the adventures of the day, I was like a little kid trying to get all of the facts and information out of my head. I guess we really are never too old to learn new things.

Maybe I’ll tour a Bible-printing facility next time. It just seems like a safer bet.