Lexie Phillips has felt the influences … from her large family, several dozen of whom have worked at Jack Daniel Distillery; from colleagues who work with her in the large Stillhouse in Lynchburg, Tennessee; and from Middle Tennessee State University, where she earned an agribusiness degree from the School of Agriculture.
The impacts, inspirations and encouragements have touched Phillips, who was named the first female assistant distiller by the company earlier this spring. She supports the overall quality and innovation of Jack Daniel’s from “grain to glass” and serves as brand ambassador.
Jack Daniel’s, the famous Tennessee whiskey, has been around since the 1860s and is considered the world’s top-selling whiskey.
“I am so thankful for all the influences throughout my life that have brought me to where I am today,” said Phillips (Class of 2011), who is from Estill Springs, Tennessee. “From my mom (Mary Amacher) to the guys at the Stillhouse, they have helped me grow into the strong woman I am.
“MTSU was one of my influences that taught me hard work and curiosity can lead you to amazing places in life.”
Phillips’ “hard work and curiosity” find her working alongside Master Distiller Chris Fletcher “to ensure quality throughout the process from start to finish and it will be my job to preserve and share this process just as the distillers have before me,” she said.
She was one of 26 whiskey-makers developing a new product, Tennessee Rye, the first time in 150 years they used a different grain bill.
Phillips’ quality time at MTSU
Phillips transferred from Motlow State Community College to MTSU.
Professor Tony Johnston, who became director of the MTSU Fermentation Science program when it began in 2017, “gave me more knowledge on fermentation that really piqued my interest” she said.
Johnston recalls Phillips “keeping in contact with me after graduating and starting the application process (with Jack Daniel’s) in 2014. I provided a letter of recommendation. I couldn’t be prouder of her.”
She landed the job, working in quality control, distillery operations and lead operator. “I worked hard and never lost my curiosity; that’s how I made it to where I am now,” she said.