Moore County, Tennessee is probably best known for its most famous resident, the Jack Daniels Distillery. But the small town of Lynchburg and the surrounding countryside offer up charm, history and other “spirits”.
The JD Distillery
The Jack Daniels Distillery in Lynchburg is the nation’s oldest registered distillery, producing the #1 selling whiskey in the world. A huge visitor’s center that is open every day of the year and free ninety-minute tours are the major attraction here.
Ironically Moore County is a dry county so there are no free tastings allowed (there are new special tasting tours that have a charge and fill up fast) and you can only purchase commemorative bottles onsite. They do however have free samples of their famous lemonade and tours cover the grounds and process of making their famous whiskey. Jack Daniels has been making whiskey here for over a century, using the same unique charcoal-mellowing process. And as Mr. Jack liked to say, “Every day we make it, we’ll make it the best we can.”
The small town of Lynchburg is a one stoplight, sleepy kinda town. Most businesses surround the town square and at nighttime there are slim pickings of places that are open. But there are a few places that you really need to check out while in the area.
Miss Mary Bobo’s Boarding House Restaurant is almost as famous (if not more so) as the distillery down the street. This former-boarding-house-turned-restaurant is listed on the National Register of Historic Places and serves up delicious southern home cooked meals. Lynne Tolley, the great-grandniece of Jack Daniels hosts diners who are all seated at the same time (11 a.m. and 1 p.m.) and are ushered into special dining rooms with the ringing of the dinner bell. Hostesses are seated with each table that will regale you with the storied history of Lynchburg.
Another great restaurant choice in downtown Lynchburg is the Barrelhouse BBQ. This barbeque joint is nothing fancy to look at on the outside, but it has some great food and decent prices. If the weather is nice, they have a pretty good bit of outside seating. Inside the 10 or so tables are handmade by owner Chuck Baker out of Jack Daniel’s barrels. There’s a small smokehouse right next to the restaurant and everything is smoked fresh daily.
You can also visit Jack Daniel’s gravesite in the town cemetery. Jack never married but was said to “like the ladies.” Town members placed two benches by his grave so they (the ladies) can come visit whenever they’d like. Jack’s partner, Lem Motlow is also buried here.
To really feel like a local, book a stay at the Mulberry House or Mulberry Manor. These two warm and cozy restored homes are right next to each other and within walking distance to downtown Lynchburg. Owner, Judy Boyd Terjen is actually the granddaughter of Lem Motlow and the grandniece of Jack Daniels. Each house is furnished with books, photos and other memorabilia of the famous local family and Judy is happy to answer any questions and provide family stories to her guests.
Following along the Tennessee Spirits and Wine Trail, there are plenty of stops both in and outside Moore County to sample wine, rum and other spirits.
Arrington Vineyards is located about 47 miles from Lynchburg in Arrington, Tennessee. Owned by country singer Kix Brooks (and partners), the 75-acre winery produces a pretty good assortment of 14 different white, red, rose and dessert wines. Located in Nashville’s “wine country”, tastings are done in a beautiful rustic tasting lodge and there’s a large picnic area and ample outdoor seating with panoramic views of the surrounding countryside.
Prichard’s Distillery in Kelso, is a rum and whiskey distillery that has been in the family for generations. Their bourbon has been rated among the finest in the world and the award winning rum is distilled in traditional copper pot stills similar in design to ancient stills and aged in new charred oak barrels.
Five generations ago in 1822, Benjamin Prichard of Davidson County, Tennessee passed his “still, tubs and utensils thereto” to his son Enoch. In 1997 Phil Prichard opened Prichard’s Distillery in Kelso. Prichard’s’ Distillery represents the first legal distillery to be built in Tennessee in nearly fifty years. Using some of the highest quality ingredients and the same techniques, Phil was able to craft some of the finest tasting rums and Tennessee whiskeys produced in America. The production of Prichard’s’ Fine Rum may truly represent the restoration of a lost art form. The Distillery offers free tours and tastings.
The George Dickel Distillery is located in Normandy, about 20 miles from Lynchburg, and their visitor’s center is filled with many antiques, photos and other memorabilia. They also have a General Store and the only working post office at a distillery in the United States.
In 1870 George A. Dickel and his wife Augusta relocated from Nashville to Cascade Hollow began the Dickel Distillery. Augusta Dickel and her family, the Schwabs, managed the business successfully and, by 1904, the distillery was Tennessee’s largest. That is until 1910 when Tennessee Prohibition began and distillers were given one year to cease operations. The George Dickel Distillery closed and for nearly four decades, the world would go without George Dickel Tennessee Whisky.
In 1958, Master Distiller Ralph Dupps rebuilt the George Dickel Distillery. To ensure the whisky’s authenticity, Dupps obtained George Dickel’s original manuscripts detailing the unique recipe and process for making George Dickel Tennessee Whisky. “I’m proud to say that more and more discriminating drinkers are discovering Dickel’s superior qualities in their search for the finest whisky,” said Dupps, who ensured that George Dickel No. 12 and No. 8 are crafted with the same care that has made George Dickel Tennessee Whisky a symbol of quality for over 130 years. Today, Master Distiller John Lunn runs the distillery, carrying on a tradition set forth by George Dickel and reaffirmed by Ralph Dupps.
History, tradition and a lot of “spirit” is what sets Moore County, Tennessee (and the surrounding area) apart and is worthy of a visit and a taste test.