Old Jack Daniel founded his distillery in 1866, right after the Civil War came to an end. Tour the active distillery to see how the whiskey is made, and get a look at every part of the process from the creation of the charcoal at the smokehouse to the bubbling fermentation tanks to the famous charcoal mellowing. According to the knowledgeable and personable tour guides (most of whom come from a long line of Jack Daniel’s employees), there are two secrets to this famous whiskey: The first is the pure, cool, iron-free water from Cave Spring, which you’ll get to see streaming right out of the earth on the tour; the other is the sugar maple wood that’s turned into the charcoal that the whiskey slowly drips through. Of all the bourbon tours I’ve taken—including three in Kentucky—this is by far the most comprehensive and will be a great experience for those who want to see every step of the process.

During the tour, you’ll visit the office used by Jack and learn about the man who really made Jack Daniel’s possible: Nearest Green, the slave who helped teach Jack how to make his fine bourbon.  Read more about that here. You can also see the safe that did Jack in: He kicked it one day in a fit of rage and wound up getting gangrene for his troubles. If you want to take some bourbon home with you (you’ll taste four or five products after your tour), bottles can be purchased here at the distillery, but nowhere else in this county, which is famously “dry.” This designation persists despite the fact that there is now a shop on the square that peddles sweet Tennessee wine under one of the state’s wacky caveats. If it’s swag you’re after, you’ll need to take a trip to the square because the company smartly put the store there to encourage foot traffic.