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Protecting a Very Special Forest: The Jack Daniel’s Tree Farm

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Protecting a Very Special Forest: The Jack Daniel’s Tree Farm

This spring, The Land Trust for Tennessee’s Katie Woodbury and Liz McLaurin met with the Senior Vice President and General Manager of Jack Daniel’s, Larry Combs, to finalize a conservation easement on a unique 30-acre farm. 

From left to right: McLaurin, Combs, Woodbury

“The tree orchard that we protected is a key resource in Jack Daniel’s sustainability effort,” says Combs. “This tree farm has been a collaboration between Jack Daniel’s and the University of Tennessee for nearly 30 years that focuses on the health and sustainability of two key species critical to the production of Jack Daniel’s: white oak and sugar maple. We utilize white oak to make our barrels and the sugar maple to produce charcoal for mellowing Jack Daniel’s, which is what makes it a Tennessee Whiskey.” 

The partnership to which Combs refers is with the University of Tennessee Tree Improvement Program, which began with this seed orchard in Moore County. Along with producing wood for a quintessential Tennessee product like Jack Daniel’s whiskey, the trees also provide seeds that the University of Tennessee can then distribute for planting elsewhere, helping to keep native-grown trees available across Tennessee. The land also serves as a natural habitat for a variety of wildlife, both land and aquatic. 

A view from the Jack Daniel’s Tree Farm

“We chose to protect the orchard through a conservation easement because of the great work and reputation of The Land Trust and the shared values with Jack Daniel’s of protecting our environment and preserving nature wherever we can,” says Combs. “Given the purpose of this land is to support research to ensure the health of Tennessee’s forests, alongside the sustainability of Jack Daniel’s operations, it was a perfect fit.” 

“Tennessee’s forests cover almost half of our state’s land area. Our statewide strategic conservation plan prioritizes forests as one of the six land resources for conservation,” says Liz McLaurin. “We’re honored to take another step in our relationship with the Jack Daniel’s Distillery, this time to conserve land that represents a brand linked worldwide to the culture and history of Tennessee.” 

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