Distillery Tours: What I Learned from Jack Daniel’s Distillery

Posted April 30, 2019 by Alison Conklin

We work pretty heavily in the spirits industry, so I have been on my fair share of distillery tours. And you tend to see a lot of the same stuff: copper equipment, bearded tour guides and an overuse of rustic wood and exposed brick that screams you’re modern. Unless you have a fuzzy little distillery cat walk by, they all seem to blend together.

Recently, I was able to go on a tour at Jack Daniels Distillery, and it was easily the best tour I have ever been on. Jonathan said it best on his post about brewery tours: We want to see the passion, authenticity and community behind your product and understand why you craft your product.

I felt all these things and more when walking through the Jack Daniel’s Distillery.

FUN FACT: Jack Daniels was only 5’2″. This statue was 5’9″, adding an extra No. 7 inches.

The Story in HiSTORY

Okay, Jack Daniel’s has a leg up on this one since it’s the oldest registered distillery in the country, but they really took you through the story of the distillery. On a tour like this, I don’t want the guide to just spit out when you opened your doors or who established the distillery. I want to know why you opened your distillery and about the community it took to make your distillery what it is today. After my tour, I drove my family and friends nuts with the amount of history and information I learned on the tour (did you know Jack Daniel’s moved out of his parents’ home at the age of six to start distilling and opened his distillery at the age of 13??).

Progression of Products

On display in their gift shop and showroom, Jack Daniel’s had the progression of its bottles and labels dating back to their first whiskey over 150 years ago. Some of their initial packaging and design still resonates on their standard squared bottles today. Some showed how they had to change to meet store shelf demands, like a short stint with rounded bottles, or specialty bottles they released throughout the years. Knowing how their products changed over the years showed how the distillery progressed, and at times, faced adversity in the industry and became the product that is now known around the world.

Employee Appreciation

Usually employee appreciation means that the company values its employees, but on my tour, I could tell the true appreciation every employee had for its job and the Jack Daniel’s brand. My tour guide was on point. And not just because he knew about my small hometown of Mascoutah, Illinois, or because he had some hilarious dad jokes. He knew the brand, product and history inside and out. The tour was much more than just a repetition of a scripted sheet. There was an appreciation there, from the ticket counter to the photographers, that made me appreciate the company that much more.

Give me something to remember. Give me a reason to want to run to the gift store, not because I successfully made it through your tour. Give me something to hold on to and share with others over a glass of your product.


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