Jack Daniel's Is Unexpectedly Distilled In A Dry County

It's hard to imagine that 100 years ago alcohol was illegal in the United States, but remnants of the Prohibition period remain — and nowhere is that more obvious than in Moore County, Tennessee, where the Jack Daniel's distillery is located. Moore County is a dry county to this day, meaning alcohol cannot be sold legally within its territory. It may seem odd for the distillery to remain in a county where the goods it produces are illegal to sell (and they are), but the situation is a bit more complicated.

For starters, although alcohol can't be sold to anyone visiting the distillery, they can buy the bottle the whiskey comes in as a collector's item – free whiskey included. Before you get confused, yes, that means that the distillery can legally sell its whiskey in a dry county. It's been that way since 1995 when the locals voted to allow the loophole. So, the county isn't bone-dry. We could call it "damp" or "moist," but those don't have quite the same ring to them.

Loopholes aren't anything new. There were legal ways to acquire alcohol during Prohibition, as well. Now that most of the country has done away with the Teetotalers, it makes sense that there would need to be some compromises. As for the distillery itself, you might think that the 62 years that Jack Daniel's has spent between the end of Prohibition until its wares were (partially) legal again in 1995 would have been just cause for relocation, but it's been there since 1866 and that's not about to change.

Jack Daniel's has a good reason to stay in Lynchburg

Although there were likely many reasons that the Jack Daniel's distillery chose to remain in Lynchburg, a primary one must have been the nearby cave where Jack Daniel's sources all of its water. Apparently, the water in Cave Spring Hollow is unparalleled in its purity, which plays a key role in the signature Jack Daniel's taste. It's not as if they can take the underground spring with them if they tried to move, so staying close to the source of such a primary ingredient may have made more sense. And, after all, distillery sales are not what's causing Jack Daniel's to be the single best-selling American liquor in the world anyway. Out of all the states, Tennessee remaining dry into the 21st century makes the most sense. 

They were the first state to pass a Prohibition-style law all the way back in 1838 and several of the major Temperance organizations also began in Tennessee. Most of us scoff at the moral rigidity implied by the Prohibition, but alcohol abuse was much more rampant back then with people consuming three times as much alcohol as we do today or more. Whether you chalk it up as a moral panic or good intentions gone awry, Prohibition had an enormous impact on American history – not all of which was bad. Organized crime led to some of the best movies ever made and there are still plenty of speakeasies around the world that take their inspiration from the Hooverville-era version of underground raves.