The Barrel Tree Lighting- Jack Daniels Distillery {Tennessee}

The festive season has begun and all the cities and towns are having their annual Christmas Tree Lightings. But while every town has a tree lighting, it is only here in Tennessee that you can experience the annual Barrel Tree Lighting at the Jack Daniels Distillery. So of course, we had to go down and join in the holiday fun at the distillery.

Jack Daniels is a name that is known world wide for whiskey. Jasper “Jack” Daniels left home at the young age of 7 or 8 and was taken in by a local farmer who taught him how to make whiskey. Everyone was making whiskey, from the farmer to the priest, and it was the most prominent side gig of the early 1900s. The farmer would later sell his farm to Jack where he branched out and established his own distillery using the fresh spring water of the Tennessee hills as the source for his spirits.

When prohibition came into play across the country, most of the whiskey making went underground and would be made by the light of the moon which is why it was called ‘Moonshine’. But Jack Daniels not only survived through the prohibition, but he seemed to thrive during it. Tennessee would have the restrictions of prohibition 5 years longer than other states. To this day, the county remains a dry country and the only way they’ve been able to offer tastings and purchases is a tricky little twist in a agricultural bill.

We walked through the crowd enjoying the festive touches here and there and general feel of comradery in everyone. Good will and southern hospitality rang through the crowd as everyone prepared to welcome the holiday season. We even ran into Whiskey Santa, the man in red’s southern cousin.

We joined the crowd surrounding the barrel tree. Many of the people there are employees of the distillery while others are residents of the small town of Lynchburg where the distillery is located. Jack Daniels has a reputation for whiskey, but the company also has a reputation for being one of the best places to work with great benefits, family type bond between employees, and a bottle of whiskey that comes with every paycheck. It is actually really difficult to get a job here because their turn over rate is so low.

The barrel tree towered over everyone with stacks of whiskey barrels and garlands waiting for the moment when the lights would come on. A few of the long timers of the distillery got up and talked about their 45 years of working here at the distillery and the good times they have had. A local fiddle and banjo band entertained the crowd with music and when they sang ‘Rocky Top Tennessee’ there was much whooping and cheering from the crowd.

The as the sky grew dark and the anticipation was high, they announced it was time to count down. They did not count down from 10, but instead from 7 in honor of Mr. Jack’s famous No. 7 whiskey. They switched on the lights and the barrel tree became a glowing festive beacon. Who would have known that whiskey barrels would be so pretty with some garlands and lights around them. There seemed to be a collective sigh of wonder as the lights were turned on as everyone just soaked in the moment of being there.

We made our way through the crowd to get up close to the barrel tree. Everyone was offering to take pictures of others and wishing strangers Merry Christmas as we all came together to enjoy the lights of the barrel tree. This could be one of our new favorite ways to ring in the holidays. We loved being part of the friendship and merriment as we all gathered around the barrel tree.

If you need some other festive holiday traditions, then you may be interested in these:

North Pole Express on the Heber Valley Railroad -Utah

Gingerbread House at The Grand Floridian – Florida

Holidays at Silver Dollar City- Missouri

Thanks for joining us for the annual Barrel Tree Lighting at Jack Daniels Distillery. May your lights be bright and your whiskey be smooth this holiday season.

27 responses to “The Barrel Tree Lighting- Jack Daniels Distillery {Tennessee}”

  1. Ah Meg, it’s good to see the old place again. My visit here in 2010 feels so long ago and produced just a few decent photos, so I enjoyed this very much. The barrel tree creation is brilliant, while I would have no trouble believing Whiskey Santa had had a few whiskeys prior to that photo. Where is Tess currently on the Santa believe-ometer? I remember hearing that JD is an amazing company to work for and it’s great to hear that’s still the case. I think this is the first time I’ve started to think about Christmas. Just around the corner.

    • It’s hard to believe that Christmas is just around the corner, the year seems to have just flown by. I tend to think that Whiskey Santa had definitely partaken right before the picture, he seemed a little wobbly. Tessa’s at the best age for Santa right now- she is a full believer and gets so giddy and almost a little star struck at meeting him. I hope it lasts for a few more years because it’s so fun to watch. Where is your niece at with the man in red? ( or is it the man in green there?)

      • At that’s lovely about Tess. Alice (now 9) found out the truth this summer. Other kids sewing the seeds of doubt, grr. When my sister confirmed her worst fears she burst into tears. Heartbreaking, really, such a huge loss of innocence in our lives I think.

        • Grrr is right! That’s always heartbreaking when that fateful moment comes. You want them to have that belief in magic because it’s such a big part of childhood but you also don’t want to have to have the talk about the truth.

  2. How fun, Meg! I loved the history lesson about Jack Daniels – who knew the county was dry! – and the Christmas spirit that all enjoyed. Isn’t that what the season is all about? I think a holiday jaunt to Lynchburg would be a great family tradition.

  3. I’d never heard the tiniest thing about that Jack Daniels life story until I read this post, what a great tale! So good when you hear of Companies who know how to treat employees too. What an enjoyable post.

    • Thank you! 🙂 I think a lot of businesses could take a page out of the Jack Daniels book on how to treat employees and keep them around. They really are like a family and it shows.

  4. What a fun and unique Christmas celebration! And Southern Hospitality is hard to beat. Did Tess enjoy meeting Santa? It can be a bit intimidating for some kids; but she looks happy in the photo! Great post!

  5. What a neat idea to build a Christmas tree out of whiskey barrels!! I had no idea that Jack Daniels was such a great place to work. This seems like such a fun event to watch the lighting of the barrel tree. It seems very Tennessee!

    • It was a really clever idea and so much prettier to see than you would think of stacks of barrels. I think it has surpassed any tree lighting that I’ve ever been to 🙂 Wishing you a wonderful holiday season!

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