The history of Jack Daniel's runs deep, deep like the mystical waters of Cave Spring Hollow. Young Jack sensed something special about the water flowing out of this 2-mile-long cave in Lynchburg, Tennessee, be it the never-ending magic of the flow birthed miles below or its enchanting clarity.

Jack Daniel’s assistant master distiller Chris Fletcher tells me tales of how that water naturally filters through limestone, removing iron along the way, which makes it ideal for making whiskey. The water rushes from its unseen source at 800 gallons a minute, staying a constant 56 degrees as it flows through the cave. Fletcher’s eyes gleam as he shares this history, his voice as crisp and clear as the springs whose waters are the essence of every bottle of Jack.

Jack Daniels Indian Springfield Dark Horse
Riding the Jack Daniel’s Indian Springfield Dark Horse around historic Barrelhouse 1 was an honor indeed.Indian Motorcycle

Including Jack Daniel’s Single Barrel Select. It’s called Single Barrel Select for good reason. In huge barrelhouses where 20,000 barrels of Jack are stored, only a few from the upper floors are chosen. The buildings whose top levels experience the most dramatic temperature swings seem to be best for producing the most robust barrels. It’s not your everyday whiskey.

Jack Daniels custom gas tank
Props to the man with the gun because the paint on the limited-edition Springfield pops. Even the badges have a wood-grain-like finish in honor of Jack Daniel’s famed oak barrels.Indian Motorcycle

This theme of “select” can also be seen on the special Springfield Dark Horse that Jack Daniel’s and Indian Motorcycle Company built and branded this year. It’s the first Indian to run a Thunder Stroke 116 straight from the factory, the 1,890cc engine claimed to pound out 127 pound-feet of torque. The wood-grain finish on the custom tank badge and saddlebag trim is a tip of the hat to Jack Daniel’s famous oak barrels. Each bike gets a customized Single Barrel medallion from Montana Silversmiths that is imprinted with the number of their bike and mounted on the air cleaner. Only 177 Single Barrel-inspired Indian Springfield Dark Horses will be built, boosting its collectability. Exclusive Single Barrel Select badges are succinctly spread about the bike, from the middle of the floorboards to the stamp on the leather tank strap. The build was helmed by heralded custom bike builder Brian Klock of Klock Werks Kustom Cycles fame, adding another dimension of selectivity to this particular machine.

Brian Klock at the computer
For the fourth straight year, Brian Klock of Klock Werks Kustom Cycles has spearheaded the Jack Daniel’s project.Indian Motorcycle

As I continue on my tour of the distillery, Fletcher points out a latticework of sugar maple strips stacked beneath a steely black hood outside Jack Daniel’s Rickyard. Three times a week, these piles are doused in whiskey and set on fire, the maple reduced to embers at 2,000 degrees. These charcoaled remains are another defining characteristic of the Tennessee whiskey as they’re stacked 10 feet deep so every drop of Jack Daniel’s can trickle through it. It’s called the “Lincoln County Process,” and charcoal-filtering spirits is a huge source of company pride.

Thunder Stroke 116
The Jack Daniel’s Limited Edition Indian Springfield Dark Horse is the first to roll out of the factory with the Thunder Stroke 116.Indian Motorcycle

The white oak barrels which house the fabled Tennessee elixir are likewise surrounded in lore. The barrels give the whiskey its color and add taste. The barrels are toasted and charred, the process bringing natural sugars out of the wood, then caramelizing them. The white oak has its own magical way of allowing the whiskey to absorb into the wood without going through. The barrels are made in-house by an exacting method of assembling 33 wood staves until they’re watertight—without having the luxury of glue or nails. And they’re used by Jack Daniel’s only once.

“The barrels are everything. They’re what makes Jack stand apart,” Fletcher said.

12-inch apehanger handlebars on Springfield Dark Horse
12-inch apehangers give the Dark Horse an extra level of gravitas and unify the front face.Indian Motorcycle

Like the coopers who craft the barrels, the team that put together the Jack Daniel’s Limited Edition Indian Springfield Dark Horse are equally proud of their work. It started at Klock Werks with Brian brainstorming the bike’s design. Between its clean, machined wheels and 12-inch apehangers, the cues definitely reflect shades of the Klock Werks character. Layers and layers of flake and paint have been artfully sprayed on its tank to achieve what Indian dubs “Metal Crystal.” The Single Barrel Select badges on the back fender and side covers were done by hand, and the leather gunfighter seat looks tailor-made for the bike. There’s a lot of pressure that comes with customizing a motorcycle meant to represent two historic American brands, and the talented team stepped up to the task with this hard-charging bagger.

Jack Daniels white oak barrels
Putting together Jack Daniel’s white oak barrels is a form of artwork in its own right; no glue or nails are used in their sturdy construction.Indian Motorcycle

Back outside the Grain Mill, the pavement is littered with kernels of corn. Fletcher tells me how Jack’s time-honored recipe for “Old No. 7” is 80 percent corn, 12 percent barley, and 8 percent rye. Just like the wood in its barrels, Jack Daniel’s is particular about its corn. Mixed with the magical waters from the cave, a little yeast, and a bit of mash from an old batch, the sour mash process kicks into gear. This process is bubbling inside Fermenter No. 4 like a pot on low boil as we step into the room. Fletcher slides its metal doors back. Eager as a kid I pop my head forward for a closer look and get blasted by fermented air. My nostrils light up like someone’s swabbed them with rubbing alcohol and for a few seconds it’s hard to breathe. Seasoned veteran that he is, Fletcher never even flinches from the fumes. Once my head rush subsides, he has me dip a finger in the mash for a taste. The corn swill is super sticky, still lightly sweet with a bite of straight alcohol. After six days this mash will be ready to be distilled in one of Jack Daniel’s legendary copper tanks, another component of the whiskey’s distinct character.

Jack Daniels team
This is the face you make after eight tastes of Jack Daniel’s different whiskeys with the “Barrel Man” (left) and Master Distiller Jeff Arnett (right). The number of fingers is in honor of Old No. 7.Indian Motorcycle

Barrelhouse 1 sits atop a hill overlooking the distillery, its weathered state giving little clue to the treasure trove inside. As one of the oldest warehouses on the property, Barrelhouse 1 is hallowed ground. Which made standing just outside its doors as they pulled back the cover on the Jack Daniel’s Indian Springfield Dark House even more special. The antiquity of the black and gray building was a stark juxtaposition to the sparkling paint of the factory-fresh Springfield.

Drive responsibly PSA
A “your PSA” moment: Drive responsibly; bottles and throttles don’t mix!Indian Motorcycle

I thumbed the starter with slight apprehension knowing this bike was headed to Daytona Beach for its unveiling during Bike Week when I was done riding. A bitter cold front had been hanging over the southeast and icicles clung to the ledges above the cave, so of course I’d brought an open-face helmet and shorty gloves to ride with. Huge mistake. The big exhaust note of the Thunder Stroke 116 banged against Barrelhouse 1 as the engine warmed up. Feeling the bike firing to life beneath me quickly warmed me up to the thought of riding. It’s not every day you get to spin circles in Jack Daniel’s Rickyard, to ride by the statue of the company’s founder at the entrance to the fabled cave, then pass by Jack Daniel’s old office. As I rolled by a handful of workers on break, they showed their approval of the sweet-sounding Springfield with thumbs-ups and waves. It helped me realize why the two iconic American companies have partnered up. They’re cut from the same cloth.

Klockwerks Indian Springfield team
It takes a spirited team to build an Indian motorcycle!Indian Motorcycle

Although my time aboard was brief, the cold air shooting through the perforations in my gloves had left my hands numb. The bike’s Flare windshield was my saving grace as it directed cold air around my core. Needless to say, a few samples of whiskey to warm the insides was sounding good about the time I met up with Jack Daniel’s Master Distiller Jeff Arnett.

Single Barrel badge
No. 1 of 177. Each motorcycle gets its own numbered Single Barrel badge.Indian Motorcycle

Arnett started with the company in 2001 and became master distiller in 2008. He’s what you’d want in a brand ambassador, a look-you-in-the-eye-and-a-firm-handshake type of guy. His Southern gentility makes you immediately at ease. He lights up as he shares the history of the company and his enthusiasm is contagious.

Jack Daniel’s Barrelhouse 1 and Indian Springfield Dark Horse
Jack Daniel’s Barrelhouse 1 is one of the oldest on the property and its hallowed loading dock was the perfect backdrop for the unveiling of the Jack Daniel’s Indian Springfield Dark Horse.Indian Motorcycle

Arnett led our group on a tour of Jack’s popular offerings, talking about recipes and percentages of rye as we smelled and tasted the subtleties of Gentleman Jack, Old No. 7, Rye, Single Barrel Select, Single Barrel Barrel Proof, and Single Barrel Rye. Arnett told the story of how Frank Sinatra catapulted Jack Daniel’s into the mainstream when he’d call it the “nectar of the gods” at shows with a touch of Ol’ Blue Eyes’ charisma. Admittedly, I was toasted like a Jack Daniel’s barrel about then, but luckily we were being shuttled to Miss Mary Bobo’s Boarding House for some homemade fried chicken, fixings, and fudge pie. After all, “Bottles and throttles don’t mix.”

It’s hard to leave Lynchburg without an appreciation for the measures Jack Daniel’s takes to make its whiskey. It’s no wonder Indian Motorcycle Company has teamed with the whiskey maker for the fourth time to build a commemorative motorcycle. Roots run deep in these two storied companies, deeper than a century of American history.