Going to see Jack



I was in Nashville for the Agile 2013 conference. It was fun being in the booth talking with many people about Agile technologies and what’s going on with software development: coding, managing, teaching. There are couple of people out from Australia that had flights the day after the last day of the conference. Tom and Josh asked if I’d be up for exploring some of Tennessee since I was over 25, American, and had a drivers license. I was planning to see Esther that day so the four of us went sightseeing.

Jack Daniels is produced entirely within Tennessee. In fact, it’s in Moore County which is a dry county in Tennessee. Ah the irony. Some of the best alcohol in the South is produced in a county that it cannot be purchased. Like many places with weird laws Jack Daniels found a way around the dry county issue so people can purchase alcohol on-site.

We had some time to kill before our tour so we went exploring around some of the gift shops. On the way out we saw some tourists coming the other way so we got a group photo.

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One of us noticed this caution sign given that we had one real Australian and one pseudo-Australian in our group.

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In the main gift shop Tom wanted a photo with the guitar. Since the weight wasn’t great, it was a stretch to get a good photograph. I took some creative license in the postprocessing and think that I have a photo that really works. I call it “GreenHopper: Greatest Hits: 2007 – 2013.” Tom is the product manager for GreenHopper and I am the marketing manager here at Atlassian.

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Jason was our tour guide. I don’t think any of us was really expecting much from the tour. We were looking to kill time and see a bit of the local area. We couldn’t have been more surprised. Jason was truly awesome entertaining us in educating us on the way.

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The charcoal is a very important part in the making of Jack Daniels. The distillery spends a large amount of time perfecting the burning of the wood in the filtering of the alcohol through the charcoal.

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A number of famous people have come through the distillery and have signed their name on the wall. Jason went through a number of people but to that resonated with me were Eric Church: “The Chief” and the Zac Band Band.

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Jack Daniel stores their alcohol in a number of buildings around campus and in the area in case of natural disaster. They also stored different years of alcohol in different warehouses so that no one year can be fully taken out. The white building at the top of the holds about $7 million in finished booze.

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There were various buildings on campus during each phase of the whiskey making process. All of the grain is stored here in the mill.

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Each of us got a photo with Jack himself:

What really brought Jack Daniels to this area is the stream you see in this photo. We were all surprised that every bit of Jack Daniels distributed worldwide comes from this water.

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It took a while for us to recognize the Tennessee state flag. Since it’s got a circular center that actually does me quite a good table cloth!

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Trivia Question: Does anyone know what kind of car this is?  If so, let me know in the comments.

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The making of Jack Daniels includes three key ingredients: corn, barley, and rye.

The number of times throughout the tour Jason reiterated this quote. I’m guessing it’s a key part of the company culture here on campus. There definitely proud of their product!

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I think this was the first time I’ve seen a live turkey walking around in such close proximity.

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The last phase of the tour you could try a few varieties of Jack Daniels. We were able to get into the special tour that includes tasting. The three we got were: Old No 7, Gentlemen Jack, and Single Barrel. It was interesting hearing Jason talk about the different characteristics of the whiskey. Full disclosure though, I’m not really a hard alcohol guy and a lot of it tasted the same to me except for the single barrel. It definitely had unique characteristics of being a touch smoother. Since it’s not a blended variety you can get different tastes from barrel to barrel.

Once back at the headquarters you are more than able to buy a bottle of whiskey to take with you.

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The campus definitely has the feel of the Old South.

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The barrels are an integral part of the whiskey making process. They give the whiskey color as well as flavor. Of course we had to take photos with the barrels.

All throughout the tour we were chased around by rainstorms. I had brought my nice camera and didn’t want to get trapped in the pouring rain with such sensitive electronics. Fortunately I got spared the worst of it. If I do miss the sudden and thorough rainstorms that happen in the South. Unfortunately it was much more challenging to get back to the car.

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