The rolling landscape of Moore County in south central Tennessee reveals gracious green pastures outlined by perfect white fences, a picture frame of sorts for some of the most beautiful and sought-after horses in the country. The winding roadways give just a hint of the lush woodlands beyond, which nearly 170 years ago saw the creation of what is now widely considered the most mellow whiskey in the world.
Fine horses and fine whiskey are the defining passions of the folks who call Moore County home. Mr. Jack, as Jack Daniel is still called in these parts, began making whiskey in these hills when he was just 6 years old under the tutelage of a Lutheran minister. By age 13, he owned the distillery.
The hard maple trees of the region, a key ingredient of the charcoal mellowing process that makes Jack Daniel’s whiskey what it is, are also an important component in the Jack Daniel’s Bar-B-Q Contest each October. More than 35,000 people show up for a sample of barbecue seasoned with the hometown product.
Out-of-towners also descend on the area in July for the annual Tennessee Walking Horse Show. The smooth gait and docile temperament of these beautiful animals is another of Lynchburg’s claim to fame.
“We have visitors all year long, and everyone just seems to fit right in,” says Virginia Bracey, a lifelong resident of Moore County. “It’s quiet and peaceful here all of the time, and that’s what I love about it.”
While the lure of whiskey and walking horses undoubtedly draws the most visitors to Moore County, there are other long-standing traditions that are just as famous among those in the know. Take Miss Mary Bobo. Back in the day, she ran a boarding house that was home to traveling federal revenue agents checking up on the business operations of Mr. Jack. In 2008, the restaurant bearing her name will celebrate its 100th year of serving family-style meals that include Southern fried chicken, fried okra and cornbread. The menu always includes a few dishes, like the spiced apple rings, flavored with—you guessed it—Jack Daniel’s whiskey.
The highlight of a meal at Miss Mary Bobo’s, however, is your hometown hostess, who coordinates conversation and passing of dishes with true southern hospitality. If you’re lucky, you’ll be seated with Miss Lynne Tolley, the great-grandniece of Mr. Jack, and an official quality taster of the Jack Daniel’s product line.
“This isn’t just a restaurant,” Lynne says. “It’s a home, and like all of Lynchburg, it has that hometown feel to it.”