Essential: Jack Daniel Lead Lexie Amacher

{Editor’s Note: This is the eighth of a multi-part series highlighting all the essential folks in Moore County. Readers nominated each interview subject. To nominate someone, email editor@lynchburg-times.com.}

“Since 1866, we’ve never done anything like this,” says Lexie Amacher of Jack Daniel’s, referring to the pivot from making whiskey to hand sanitizer. {Photo Provided}

“Since 1866, we’ve never done anything like this,” says Jack Daniel’s Lead Lexie Amacher. We caught up with her recently to talk about the transition from Jack employee to essential employee during the COVID-19 pandemic.

She’s one of dozens of employees who usually oversee the day-to-day tasks of making our local product that gets shipped all over the globe from the tiny town of Lynchburg. Today, her mission is much closer to home.

Mid-March, Jack Daniel’s and their parent company, Brown-Forman, decided to shut down public tours here in Lynchburg due to COVID-19. Soon after, the research and development department in Louisville, along with the production staff here in Lynchburg, got busy pivoting from whiskey to another type of alcohol … namely the high-proof variety that gets used to make hand sanitizer.

It’s a quick change that came with the some unique hurdles.

“The very few times we’ve ever tried a new recipe it’s always come with its own obstacles,” she says. “We do a pilot run in the lab, but you never really know what it’s really gonna be like until we do it on a large scale.”

The high-proof ethyl alcohol the distillery now produces gets mixed with glycerin, hydrogen peroxide and other ingredients into a CDC and WHO approved formula meant to be sprayed on surfaces and allowed to air dry. At first, the distillery’s goal was just to produce small batches for employees and local front line workers. It wasn’t long until they realized the demand would quickly outpace that supply. Today, Amacher says the distillery has partnered with two other companies to put out over two million gallons of the stuff a month … and counting.

Amacher says day-to-day the steps in making whiskey and making neutral, distilled alcohol aren’t that different but it’s the social distancing that makes it unique. Like every other essential business, distillery employees clean multiple times a shift, wear face masks, and work further apart than usual. In the end, Amacher says her goal and the goal of every distillery and Brown-Forman employee is to just keep each other safe.

When she’s not busy at the distillery, Amacher says she and her fiancé, Josh Phillips, who works in Single Barrel production, stay busy with projects just like the rest of us. They’ve given the landscaping an upgrade and refinished the kitchen cabinets.

“We’ve also done lots of spring cleaning,” she jokes.

When we asked her what she’s misses most about “normal” life, she’s quick to answer.

“I really just miss people … my friends and my family. Talking on the phone is one thing but not getting to see anyone for long periods is just not what we’re used to … you really take it for granted until it’s gone.” •

{The Lynchburg Times is an independently owned and operated newspaper that publishes new stories every morning. Covering Metro Moore County government, Jack Daniel’s Distillery, Nearest Green Distillery, Tims Ford State Park, Motlow State Community College, Moore County High School, Moore County Middle School, Lynchburg Elementary, Raider Sports, plus regional and state news.}

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