Wednesday, April 9, 2014

Jack Daniels Distillery Tour with Houd

I have been away from drawing portraits for a week and a half, currently working on my friend Houds portrait.  This past week my little family traveled to Tennessee and while we were there we visited the Jack Daniels Distillery.  I knew Houd and Coyote would enjoy this trip so I brought them along......well, I brought along his action figures.

While we waited for our tour to begin we loitered in the lobby and checked out all the props.  Lots of good photo opportunities there (since you aren't allowed to take photos inside the buildings).

Barrel aging process visual
Life size statue of Jack

Vintage jug photo opportunity

Then the tour began and we watched a little movie.  Next they whisked us off for a group photo on the docks and then onto a small bus that drove us to the top of the hill.

First stop on the tour was the Rick Yard where they make the charcoal for mellowing the whiskey.  They use a particular type of wood, spray it with whiskey and burn it.  During the controlled burn they spray the wood with just the right amount of water to make the charcoal.

Wood stacked and curing

Ready to make charcoal

Next we visited the natural spring the distillery uses to make their whiskey.  For some odd reason the photo of me is bleached out.  The photo of my husband came out fine, mine is a blur of sunshine.  You could say I am a ray of sunshine.  If you look closely at my right hand I am holding Houd and Coyote in both pictures.  The Jack on the Rocks statue is just in front of the spring.  I am wearing Maggie on my back in my Ergo carrier throughout the tour, in case you were wondering...

Natural spring on premises used in the process

My husband, Houd, Coyote and I posing with the Jack on the Rocks statue

Next we took a walk through the original office, heard the history of the business and ownership.  Also, we heard the story of how Jack came into work early, couldn't get the safe open and kicked it out of frustration.  Later he developed gangrene and died.  Moral of the story, don't go to work early.  Then we went back outside and learned a bit about the grains used for whiskey making. 

Then we went inside the Still House and viewed the huge vats of mash bubbling away.  We were able to lean into the vats and smell the mash in two different stages - one had just been started and the other was just about done.  The aroma was very strong and a bit unpleasant.  That part of the tour was very hot and stuffy inside.

We exited the building in the back (blessed cool air) and at the top where we had a view of all the pipes and the roof top.  The trees closest to the Still house were covered in black residue (doesn't hurt the trees) from the distilling process.


After exiting the Still House building in the back, we entered it again through a different door and saw the tubs full of charcoal that they ran the whiskey through during the mellowing process.  We all stood around the tubs, leaned in close with our noses inches from the lids and the tour guide opened the lid and fanned the blessed smell of whiskey into our faces.  If you breathed in through your mouth and exhaled through your nose you could taste the whiskey.  My favorite part of the tour!

Lastly, we toured the Barrel house and learned how the barrels were made (the distillery makes their own and no glue or nails are used.  They believe making their own barrels is important to the whole process) and viewed the bottling works.  Then we went down into the cooler, lower floors where they store the whiskey in barrels, the sweet smell of whiskey was abundant in this location.  Racks and racks of barrels from floor to ceiling. 


After the whole tour was over the tour guide leads you back into the main building (that houses the lobby) where they have fresh, cold lemonade for you and you can buy the limited edition bottles of whiskey and purchase tour photos.  The lemonade is sitting on a bar inside with a huge mirror that was taken from the original bar in downtown Lynchburg.  So you can imagine my surprise when I was getting a shot of Houd and Coyote on the historic bar when the "bartender" asked me if I would like some props.  YES.  I had to have the Tennessee honey (one of Houds favorites) in the photo.

Later that night we went out to eat at the Mellow Mushroom in Nashville and I ate the most delicious
Portobello & Cheese sub - grilled Portobello mushrooms, mozzarella, artichoke hearts, sun-dried tomatoes, spinach, feta and mayo, topped with sprouts.  Ohhhhhh, it was so delicious!!!  The decor inside the restaurant is very cool, so of course I had to get some photos with Houd and Coyote.  I apologize that the place was dark and blogger keeps automatically adjusting my photos so they look grainy and over exposed, but I am going to ignore my OCD and share them anyways. 

Seemed like a very fitting place to set Houd and Coyote for a photo.  We were sat directly under the mushroom with wings by the hostess.  We all had a great time in Tennessee.  Time to get back to work on my portraits.  I missed having an artistic outlet to express emotions everyday.  Anxious to get back to it!

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