Saturday, April 16, 2011

Sippin' Whiskey

The weekend of the Final Four found me in Nashville, Tennessee. This is bourbon country: not too far from the Kentucky border to the north, and not far from the two Tennessee distilleries, Jack Daniel's and George Dickel. Naturally, this called for a road trip.

The road from Nashville to Lynchburg starts on modern Interstate highways and ends on a two-lane road from another century. In between are many miles of farmland, small towns, and straight roads. (It's a little unnerving to drive on a non-controlled access road with a 65 mph speed limit.

I was last in Lynchburg 15 or more years ago, and for the same reason. Really, there is only one reason to visit. Lynchburg is a company town, and the company is Brown-Forman, owner of the Jack Daniel's brand of Tennessee whiskey.

The visitors' center had been completely revamped since my last visit. If you happen to be a Tennessee Squire, ask for the Squires Room and you'll be escorted to the inner sanctum of JD aficionados.

The tour is free, but they don't skimp. A gen-u-ine good ol' boy (or gal, I suppose) leads a group through the various production buildings, giving a description of the whiskey-making process along the way, as well as anecdotes about Jack Daniel, his nephew and successor, Lem Motlow, and the distillery itself. No pictures are allowed inside the production facilities, but we could snap away outside.

The rag-tag group of tourists outside the rickyard, where the wood that winds up as charcoal is stacked:

Mr. Jack himself:

The ingredients for whiskey: corn, barley, and rye:

The distillery has a path that leads over a creek and to the town square of Lynchburg. The inevitable "store with Jack Daniel's logos on anything one can imagine" is there, along with several places to eat and not one but two Harley-Davidson shops.

Downtown Nashville has become quite the happening place in the past decade or so. It's funny how these things go in cycles. What was once a thriving place for live music became a veritable ghost town at night when I first went there, a few hardy spots riding out the storm. The downtown revival started slowly, but the opening of the Wild Horse Saloon, along with a new football stadium an arena, seemed to get things moving. Now, one can hardly move in the crowds, and parking - once plentiful, if you were willing to leave your car - is at a premium. Below, the "Bat Tower" (aka the Bell South Building - Wikipedia can call it the AT&T Building all they want) in downtown:

Jimmy Buffet's Margaritaville puts out a large plate of nachos. Two people couldn't finish that pile:

Some group of idiots was clearly hoping Virginia Commonwealth University would make it to the NCAA finals. Hope they didn't put much money on that game:


David & Polly said...

Blimey! That's one big pile of nachos! Puts me in mind of what passed for a kid's meal in Canada...


Rhianon Jameson said...

That's some kid's meal! I hope the little guy was able to put a dent in it. At least we had two hungry adults making headway. :)