Straight from the Barrel

get more from BRO

I don’t know why my ancestors decided to settle in the Southern Appalachians, but I’m glad they did. Because of their decision to head south after getting off the boat from Italy, I get to enjoy the bounty of life in the South. Fried chicken. Pisgah’s singletrack. and of course, whiskey.

If you’re reading this, there’s a good chance that, like me, you’re within a half-day’s drive of some of the greatest distilleries on the planet–operations that are making bourbon, rye and Tennessee whiskey. It’s true that most of these distilleries distribute their whiskey all over the country and beyond, but there’s something special about going straight to the source for a taste. I recently had the chance to visit Jack Daniel’s in Lynchburg, Tennessee.

I got to tour the facility and walk through one of their barrel houses, where assistant master distiller Chris Fletcher tapped into a barrel on the seventh floor and let us take a few sips straight from the vessel. The whiskey was dark, smelled a hell of a lot like oak, and tasted good as hell. Yeah, the spirit was hot—out of the barrel, Jack Daniel’s is anywhere from 129 to 140 proof—so there was a little burn, but beyond that heat there were big notes of caramel and vanilla, along with stone fruit like cherry and even banana. And of course, the oak was all over that whiskey. Imagine your last Jack Daniel’s experience, then multiply it by 100. That’s what it’s like to taste it straight from the barrel.

While we’re closer to Jack Daniel’s distillery than most people in the country, it’s still a haul. The 2,000-acre property sits in the middle of Tennessee. Drive all the way to Nashville, turn south and keep on driving. It’s not exactly convenient. Luckily, Jack Daniel’s has taken some of the legwork out of the process of barrel tasting with their Single Barrel Barrel Proof whiskey. It’s big and oaky, with a hefty 130 (ish) proof, and as close as you can get to tasting whiskey straight from the barrel, on the seventh floor of one of their barrel houses.

Support Blue Ridge Outdoors

Did you enjoy this article? To insure Blue Ridge Outdoors Magazine continues to deliver you great outdoor related content consider becoming a TrailHead for as little as $1 a month.


in case you missed it

A Hiking Getaway to Madison County, VA

As we head into fall, what better place to get outside and experience the changing leaves than Madison County, Va. Rich in...

Winter Can Never Come Soon Enough at Snowshoe

Winter Can Never Come Soon Enough Our friends at Snowshoe...

Hike Russell County, Virginia

As one of the most beautiful areas in the world, discover all that the mountains of southwestern Virginia have to offer when...

Hike Buchanan County, Virginia

From the scenic mountains and lush forestland to the flowing waters, Buchanan County, Va. is the perfect fall getaway for hiking and...

Support Blue Ridge Outdoors

Help fund our distribution of free outdoor content to the region we love to go outside and play in. LEARN MORE