From North Wales to Nashville!
Take a trip down Tennessee way with Kate and Ant from our intrepid training team as they discover the delights of Bourbon and Barbecue in ‘Music Town’….
When we first discovered we had been selected to represent Hickory’s on a once-in-a-lifetime trip to the home of Jack Daniels we literally wanted to burst with excitement.
Working in the training team means we literally live, breathe, eat and sleep all things Southern and our job is to pass on this knowledge and passion to new recruits across the business.
In our roles we’ve had no end of bourbon training, undergone a range of Southern hospitality courses and could tell you a thing or two about hot-sauces but NOTHING could have prepared us for what we were about to experience….
Leaving On A Jet Plane (and a bus, and a taxi or two!)
A weekend in Nashville you say? It will take 18 hours to get there you say? No problem!
So we flew to Nashville (via Atlanta and a light 6 hours on a Greyhound bus!) and landed in music town just before midnight. No sleep but running on adrenalin, we arrived to a couple personalised Jack Daniels envelopes waiting for us at the hotel reception. Inside the envelope was $50 each and a list of recommendations on where to go to on the strip!
We were out of the door faster than you could say ‘mines on the rocks’ and made our way across town to Nashville’s world famous strip.
Now I (Kate) may be known as one of Hickory’s top party animals and I have been to some of the world’s biggest music festivals but I have can honestly say, I have never experienced anything like it!
There was a drummer in the middle of the sidewalk belting out a few beats; guys with guitars and live music bursting out of every bar. The whole city seemed to be one big party! Several cocktails, a few scoops of bourbon and one slightly drunken purchase of some rhinestone encrusted cowboy boots later and we were back at the hotel to grab a few hours’ sleep before the next part of adventure began…
The Wonder of Whiskey
After an early morning call we made our way, slightly bleary eyed to meet up with our group for the day and headed off to Lynchburg; home of to the world-famous Jack Daniels distillery.
As we watched the sweeping plains of Tennessee whisk by and the saw the outline of the great Smokey Mountains in the distance we really had to pinch ourselves. It was just over 24 hours since we left Wales and the scenery could not have been more epic.
Lynchburg itself was like a time capsule. Perfectly preserved, this true slice of the deep South had hardly changed since Jack first established his distillery over 150 years ago.
Unbelievably Lynchburg, is actually based in a ‘dry’ county. Moore County forbids the sale of alcohol in bars and restaurants so locals cannot purchase their famous export close to home!
A BIT OF HISTORY…. In the early 1900s, the entire state of Tennessee was dry, and it remained that way for almost 30 years. The Jack Daniel’s Distillery was mothballed. The proprietor of the Jack Daniel’s Distillery at the time, Lem Motlow, was in government and helped pass a bill to make it legal to make spirits in the state, even if they could not be enjoyed there. Once this law passed, the distillery was opened again and it flourished.
As well as exploring the old streets of Lynchburg we were also treated to an exclusive private tour of the distillery. Our Jack Daniels guides were so passionate and knowledgeable about the whole process, as well as the history of the brand and we were utterly enthralled from start to finish.
We learnt a lot about the distilling process and the fact that Jack Daniels is not a bourbon as many people think!
Jack Daniel’s is not a bourbon – it’s a Tennessee Whiskey. Jack Daniel’s is dripped slowly – drop-by-drop – through ten feet of firmly packed charcoal (made from hard sugar maple) before going into new charred oak barrels for maturing. This special process gives Jack Daniel’s Tennessee Whiskey its rare smoothness.
After a pit-stop at the world-famous Caboose Café (the most incredible pulled pork and to-die-for wings) we then headed up into the hills for what would be become the absolute highlight of our trip…
Sunset Over The Appalachian Mountains..
Imagine – you are up in the hills above Lynchburg, the BBQ has been fired up, the festoon lights are twinkling, you have a Jack in hand and are listening to a band fronted by Danny from the Black Keys backed by some legendary country music session players…this is hospitality Jack Daniels style.
Our never to be repeated, once in a lifetime experience at the private Jack Daniels ranch is something we will never forget. We met colleagues from all over the world and swapped stories about our lives back home; our jobs and our plans for the future.
The spirit of Jack Daniels himself was well and truly alive on that night and as we hopped on the bus back to Nashville we knew that serving a Jack Daniel’s, simply, on the rocks; or inspiring a new recruit about the magic of Southern hospitality had suddenly become a whole lot easier….
We made it back to the strip for a few more hours of fun (of course we did!) and just about made our flight the next day by the skin of our teeth – but more than anything we made some memories that will literally stay with us for the rest of our lives…
Thankyou Tennessee – its been a blast!
Kate & Ant x