Sazerac Tennessee Distillery - Lincoln County Process

Thoughts of fire and brimstone may be a bit scary but; scenes of sugar maple on fire can only mean one thing in the distilling industry – The Lincoln County Process. And, that’s exactly what’s happening at Sazerac’s unnamed distillery in the hills of Tennessee as Master Distiller John Lunn and Distiller Allisa Henley fire up the sugar maple.

Sazerac Tennessee Distillery - Lincoln County Process, Sugar Maple
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Tennessee Whiskey is matured in oak, but it travels through charred sugar maple before entering the barrel.

Not only are they firing up the sugar maple, they are also firing up the stills at the distillery once known as the Popcorn Sutton Distillery in Newport, TN. Sazerac announced the acquisition of the distillery in December 2016 but they have not released a name for the distillery or the brand of Tennessee Whiskey that will be made here. Perhaps Jackie Danielle Distillery or Georgiana Richard Distillery? Yeah, perhaps not.

Sazerac Tennessee Distillery - Lincoln County Process, Burning Sugar Maple 2
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Four ricks of sugar maple fired up for the Lincoln County Process.

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A few months ago, John and Allisa sourced sugar maple from a sawmill in Tennessee and burned four ricks in John’s backyard to make the charcoal they are using for the Lincoln County process, essential for making Tennessee whiskey. To be classified a Tennessee whiskey the whiskey must be filtered through maple charcoal, which distinguishes it from bourbon whiskey.

Sazerac Tennessee Distillery - Lincoln County Process, Extinguishing the Fire
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Distiller Allisa Henley and Master Distiller John Lunn put out the flames on the newly charred sugar maple.

The distilling duo began filling barrels with their newly made whiskey in early July. The whiskey will be aging in the barrels for several years, although the age and brand name have yet been decided. Announcements will be forthcoming as new developments are made.

“We’re so excited to start distilling and to have the opportunity to make Tennessee whiskey again,” said John Lunn, master distiller. “We did a lot of tweaking to get the distillation just right, but we’re really happy with how it turned out and are anxious to taste it along its aging journey.”

Sazerac, based in New Orleans, Louisiana, is the parent company to Buffalo Trace Distillery, A. Smith Bowman Distillery, Glenmore Distillery and Barton Brands. The privately held company has operations in Louisiana, Kentucky, Virginia, Tennessee, Maine, New Hampshire, Maryland, California, United Kingdom, Ireland, France, Australia and Canada.

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Distiller’s Fired Up About Burning Sugar Maple

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