The Tasting Panel magazine

March 2017

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march 2017  /  the tasting panel  /  85 I t's not often that you have bartenders write an essay to win a trip to a world-famous whiskey distillery, but Jack Daniel's has always been a company to break the mold. Joshua Tallent, Bar Manager at Telegraph Bar in Denver, Colorado, was one of the lucky winners in the group of Denver bartenders who traveled to Lynchburg, Tennessee—population 6,362 and home to the historic Jack Daniel's distillery. "It was my first time at the distillery, and it was much larger than I expected," Tallent recalls. "We got to meet with Assistant Master Distiller Chris Fletcher on one of his rare days off. His grandfather was the Master Distiller as well." Tallent also had the opportunity to view how the company makes its own charcoal, burning huge bonfires of sugar maple pallets three times a week. "It's so great to see that they take so much pride in what they do that even the smallest parts of their ingredients they create themselves," he marveled. He was also impressed to see the source of where the company gets its water for distillation, a source Jack Daniel found as a child before buying the property years later. "It's known as the best source of water in the area," Tallent said. "It's always the same temperature, and because it's filtered through limestone, it's almost like it goes through double filtration. The whole Jack Daniel's culture is based on that water." Joining him were Alexandra Flower, Director of Operations for Acorn and Oak in Denver and Vice President of the Colorado Bartenders Guild, and Chad Michael George, co-owner of The Way Back and President of the Colorado Bartenders Guild. It was both of their first times visiting the distillery as well, and Flower and George each used the term "pretty obsessed with whiskey" to describe their passion for the brown spirit. "I know Jack Daniel's whiskey very well already," George admits, "but it was great to see how vast the distillery is, especially in comparison to how small Lynchburg is, and see the process that goes into making the spirit. It's such an approachable whiskey, and its charcoal filtering makes it easier on the palate, and something I always give to people who usually only know Irish whiskey and are ventur- ing into the realm of American whiskey." Jack Daniel's Brand Ambassador Eric "ET" Tecosky was on hand to guide the bartenders, a favorite pastime of his. "I love being with people when they visit the distillery for the first time. With a brand as iconic as Jack Daniel's, I think most people feel like they know more than their fair share about Old No. 7. Then, when they see the process and observe the care that goes into every drop, they have an even greater appreciation for the whiskey." Flower used her first visit to the distillery to do some com- parisons. "I've been to other whiskey distilleries, so it was fascinating to me to see a different fermentation process and compare it to the others I've seen. Talking to Chris Fletcher was a highlight, learning about all the controls and consis- tency measures the company goes through to ensure their whiskey is up to par. I was also impressed by the distiller's history; I can't imagine being able to hold on to a distillery through Prohibition. And for it to be located in a dry county too!" It's true: Lynchburg is in Moore County, which is a dry county. So ironically enough, while Jack Daniel's is made in Lynchburg, you'll have to go elsewhere to buy it. Back in Denver, Tallent used his trip as a reason to have customers retaste Jack Daniel's at his bar. "What the trip made me realize, and what I want other people to realize, is that Jack Daniel's is about more than just the image; it's about the taste. It may be a big company, but it's still got love and care from the distillery." ET adds, "I'm sure Jack Daniel would be very proud of the fact that his small brand has become known all over the world. I think he'd be even more proud that they still make it the same way." Denver bartenders at the Jack Daniel's distillery. Back row (left to right): Nathan Turk of The Way Back; Chris Fletcher, Assistant Master Distiller at Jack Daniel's; Luis Guy of Brown-Forman; and Cori O' Connor of Smokin Dave's BBQ. Middle row: Adrianne Dabney of Greenhouse Agency; Eric "ET" Tecosky, Jack Daniel's Brand Ambassador; Aaron Lobato of Interstate Kitchen & Bar; Daryl Pryor of Departure/B&GC; Dave Berry of Whiskey Bar; and Josh Tallent of Telegraph. Front row: Alex Flower of Acorn; Chad Michael George of The Way Back; Noah Heaney of Miner's Saloon; and Ginju Im of Annette. Assistant Master Distiller Chris Fletcher led the bartenders on a tour of the distillery on one of his rare days off. PHOTO: JASON MYERS PHOTO: JASON MYERS

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