Chris Fletcher grew up participating in in the Jack Daniel’s cave spring hollow in Lynchburg even though his grandfather led the renowned distillery. He in no way fathomed that he sometime would fill individuals sneakers.
On Wednesday, Fletcher sat in his grandfather’s business office, at his desk, and publicly announced his new job as the grasp distiller of Jack Daniel’s Tennessee Whiskey.
“It can be seriously a exclusive detail for me to be in this function,” he explained. “I could not be far more energized or honored.”
Fletcher is the eighth learn distiller in the heritage of the Jack Daniel Distillery, getting over the part soon after previous grasp distiller Jeff Arnett stepped down in September from his 12-year tenure with the company. Fletcher labored beneath Arnett for six decades as assistant grasp distiller.
As grasp distiller, Fletcher will serve as a manufacturer ambassador and oversee whiskey-producing functions. He grew up about a few miles from the distillery and now life near by with his spouse, Ashley, and 3-month-outdated son, Payne Thomas.
Fletcher also will oversee the brand’s new Distillers in Training method, which aims to make a talent pipeline by recruiting young and numerous employees and supplying them with mastering and mentorship prospects.
“His knowledge of this distillery and all of its internal workings, his creativeness and his passion for producing fantastic whiskey is likely to serve us all nicely,” common manager Larry Combs explained at a information convention Wednesday. “He’s discovered from the greatest, and plainly has whiskey-making in his blood from his grandfather and previous learn distiller Frank Bobo. He signifies the generations of families who have worked and continue to get the job done at the distillery listed here in Lynchburg.”
‘I failed to know what whiskey even was”
Fletcher wasn’t always intrigued in getting a distiller, he explained. There was no eureka instant when his grandfather, who served as master distiller from 1966 by way of 1989, sat him down and taught him how to flavor whiskey, nevertheless he does have fond recollections of the distillery.
“When I was a youthful person managing around this position, I did not know what whiskey even was,” he explained.
“Expanding up in Lynchburg … you will not truly consider about Jack Daniel’s as a manufacturer,” Fletcher reported. “It truly is exactly where most people’s family members get the job done, and my relatives surely was no different.”
Fletcher analyzed chemistry at Tennessee Tech University immediately after graduating substantial university. In need of some further funds all through a summer season at property in 2001, he took a career as a part-time tour guideline at the distillery. He realized about the company’s heritage and the whiskey-making course of action and started asking his grandfather questions.
“Which is when it all started to … arrive jointly: chemistry and whiskey making, the similarities and the possible,” he stated.
Immediately after graduating with a bachelor’s diploma in 2003, Fletcher worked as a analysis and growth chemist for Louisville-dependent Brown-Forman, Jack Daniel’s dad or mum business, for eight decades.
He returned to Jack Daniel Distillery to function less than Arnett right after numerous yrs in the bourbon field. As assistant master distiller, Fletcher labored on the brand’s Tennessee Tasters Collection, an experimental line focused on whiskeys that “thrust the envelope,” he claimed.
He designs to go on that spirit of innovation as grasp distiller, however he reported the primary precedence will constantly be preserving the flavor of Jack Daniel’s Old No. 7 whiskey “tried out and real.” A different priority: continuing to honor the family members, like his own, that have designed whiskey in Lynchburg for additional than 150 many years.
“I inform persons, Lynchburg is a seriously special area,” Fletcher reported. “It is really nonetheless largely a dry county … We have one particular stoplight. You can find definitely no chain dining establishments, and there is certainly no supercenter grocery merchants or malls. But we do one particular matter genuinely very well, and that is make whiskey.
“A person of the items that I acquire a whole lot of satisfaction in is to be ready to seem individuals in the eye and explain to them, we make whiskey the exact same way my grandfather designed it when he started here in 1957. Certainly, we make additional whiskey than he designed in 1957, but we continue to use the exact same method.”
Access Cassandra Stephenson at [email protected] or at (731) 694-7261. Follow Cassandra on Twitter at @CStephenson731.