Hank – We used the rental car today to visit The Grand Ole Opry, the Jack Daniel’s Distillery, and run some errands.
The Grand Ole Opry was a great visit. It’s the site of a country music show that started as a barn dance radio show back in 1925. There’s a lot of history in that building. The tour started off with an emotional video of what it means to become a member and includes several times when artists who just finished performing were invited to become a member. I was not aware how few memberships there are. Just over 200.
There’s a circle of oak floor on the stage that was taken from Ryman Auditorium, the Opry’s first long term home, and placed here when the current building was constructed in 1973-74.
Roy Acuff, the King of Country Music, was a long time member of the Opry. After his wife passed away, he moved into a house next door to the Opry so he wouldn’t have to travel so far to continue performing. He stayed there until he passed in 1992 at 89 years old.
We had a 90-minute drive to Lynchburg, the home of Jack Daniel’s Distillery. If whiskey is an interest then this is a very informative tour. We got to see how it’s made and what makes it a Tennessee Whiskey, which is essentially the process used by Jack Daniel as apparently taught to him by Nathan Green.
During our tour they were just cooling down a new batch of charcoal used for filtering the whiskey. The filtering vats are 14 feet deep and contain 10 feet of packed sugar maple charcoal. The distilled moonshine is trickled in and takes five days to work its way out. Then it’s put in a barrel and stored in a barrel house for 4-7 years.
They make their charcoal on site but the white oak barrels are made in Louisville, KY. Barrels are used only once. Most of their barrels are shipped to Scotland where they’re used to make scotch.
Kathy – Another day of sightseeing in the Nashville, Tennessee area. The Grand Ole Opry was on my list of things to see and it did not disappoint. It was a very informative tour that we went on.
The tour took you on the path of a country music star as they walk into the building. The artists get checked in, practice their music, then go to the dressing rooms to get ready, they hang out in the “Family Room” (like a “Green Room” in show business) with other musicians while eating and drinking, and finally they walk out on the Grand Ole Opry stage and perform. Throughout the tour you see lots of pictures and memorabilia of performers over the years.
In May 2010 the Grand Ole Opry was under ten feet of water due to the flooding of the nearby Cumberland River. Much of the stage, pews and instruments were destroyed. The shows continued to go on though. They quickly found an alternative venue in Downtown Nashville, scraped up enough equipment and instruments to perform, and gave out hand printed tickets. People came together and made it work…which is what the Grand Ole Opry has done since 1925. It took four months and $20 million dollars for the renovations to be completed and they reopen their doors in September 2010.
As we walked on the Grand Ole Opry stage and saw the 4,400 seats, it made me think of the artists and how they must feel being up there performing in a place with such a rich history. Kinda cool. I was hoping we could see a performance, but the shows are sold out. Too bad, guess we will have to come back some time. 😊
The Jack Daniel’s Distillery was a must to visit since it is Hank’s alcoholic beverage of choice. It was pretty interesting to learn the history of Jack Daniel and how he started making whiskey at such an early age. He was the youngest of ten children. His mother died shortly after his birth due to pregnancy related complications. His dad remarried and he didn’t like his stepmother so Jack left home at age six. He befriended and worked for Reverend Dan Call who made whiskey during the week and preached on Sundays. A black man named Nearest Green also worked for Reverend Dan Call and taught Jack Daniel how to make whiskey.
Eventually Reverend Dan Call’s congregation told him he needs to be either a preacher or a whiskey maker but he had to choose. He chose to preach and sold his distillery to Jack Daniel at age 13. Jack started making whiskey at age 16, and trademarked his beverage at 25 years of age.
Jack Daniel was known as a fine gentleman and he always took off his hat if women were present. He never married or had children. He died at 65 years old after kicking his safe (because he could not remember the combination) and injured his toe which lead to gangrene setting in and eventually causing his demise. Jack willed his company to his favorite nephew (who he taught the trade to) and he continued make the Tennessee Whiskey.
The tour was good and I learned more than enough about making whiskey. At the end of the tour it came time to taste the whiskey. Tasting is relatively new here. Lynchburg, Tennessee is a dry county meaning no liquor is sold in the county. However, a few years ago Jack Daniel’s Distillery somehow got an exception from the state legislature to allow tasting. So tasting it is! I am not a big fan of hard liquor. As you know by now, I mainly like wine. I decided to try to open my palette a bit and try this whiskey stuff. Well, the Gentleman Jack was not too bad (but I still prefer my wine). All the other whiskey tastings were gross! It was all so strong, tasted nasty, and burned my mouth and throat. I guess you can say the tour was good, but I still prefer wine over whiskey. 🥃 😬🍷😊
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