I was let go from the company where I had worked for twenty years, and wasn’t sure what to do. Mary and I agreed that it had been some time since we had been on vacation, so we decided to get into the van and drive up Interstate 75 into Tennessee, then take Interstate 24 toward Nashville. Along the way, we saw signs advertising the Jack Daniel’s Distillery in Lynchburg. We had talked for years about visiting, and we decided that maybe it was time to see how they make Jack Daniel’s Old No. 7 Tennessee Whiskey.
(It was a fascinating tour, led by Randy, one of their employees.)
Sadly, very few of the pictures that we took of the tour are around anymore, but a virtual distillery tour is available on their website here. You’re given a choice as to which tour guide you want. I recommend Randy, also known as “Goose”. Randy was our tour guide when we were there; he’s a very entertaining character, and we learned a lot about where the water comes from, how they make the charcoal through which they filter the whiskey, how the grains, water, and yeast are mixed and fermented–basically, the whole process. You’ll see it on the tour. And, by all means, if you find yourself in middle Tennessee near Lynchburg, visit the distillery and take the tour. Just don’t expect any free samples along the way. Lynchburg is located in a dry county, and the distillery had to obtain special dispensation to be allowed to sell gift bottles of Old No. 7. They did, however, serve lemonade at the end of the tour.
It was a delightful beginning to a vacation that started the rest of my life. We went from Lynchburg to Murfreesboro, the location of Middle Tennessee State University, where I had gone to participate in the National Guitar Summer Workshop the year before. It was a time for browsing through antique shops, eating out, and mostly talking and being together.
We returned to Atlanta several days later. We were relaxed, happy, and confident that I could make it on my own.