Luck is what happens when preparation meets opportunity. Lexie Amacher-Phillips hit the jackpot with a rare opportunity, but not without the thorough preparation needed to step into the role. Jack Daniel’s Distillery has a new Assistant Distiller. Phillips is filling the position left vacant after Chris Fletcher’s promotion to the distillery’s Master Distiller (after Jeff Arnett‘s very sudden departure in September of 2020).
A middle Tennessee native, Phillips grew up in the shadow of Jack Daniel’s Distillery. A little family research showed that at least twenty-five family members have worked at the distillery, including her great-grandfather who worked with the Motlows in the 1940s and her grandparents. “We stopped [counting] at third cousins,” she teases.
She left her small hometown of Estill Springs and went up the road about an hour to Murfreesboro to attend college. She studied agricultural science at Middle Tennessee State University because, as she states, “I didn’t know exactly what I wanted to do, but I know that the world stops turning without agriculture.” While in school, fermentation sciences piqued her interests (and brought back memories of when she “learned how to make wine in a very simplified way a long time ago from a cousin.”)
“Jack Daniel’s is hiring,” Phillips’ great aunt informed her just after graduation. “It felt like she was passing the Jack Daniel’s family tradition down to me,” she remembers. She got the job, part-time at first, and started at the bottom “doing anything they’d let me do on any shift.” She landed in quality control, affording her the opportunity to work with distillers, tasters, and maturation. It was then that she met her now husband, and fellow distillery employee, Josh Phillips.
Jessica Hartline, a current Master Taster and former distiller at Jack Daniel’s, mentored Phillips and convinced her to take a shot at a distilling position, believing that her interests and talents would best be aligned in the stillhouse. Phillips heeded Hartline’s advice. Recalling her first day in that position, “I was scared to death… seeing how much faced me and what all I needed to learn.” She joined a team of five seasoned distillers and got to work. “I credit those guys [with] why I’m here today. They passed on their passion to me and they wanted me to succeed.”
Succeed she did. After just seven years with Jack Daniel’s, Lexie Amacher-Phillips is only the second person to hold the title of Assistant Distiller. “Lexie brings a deep knowledge of distillery history and a natural talent for whiskey-making to her new position,” said Chris Fletcher. “She represents the future of our craft, and I am thrilled to now have her by my side as we work together to ensure the highest character and quality of Jack Daniel’s Tennessee Whiskey.”
Phillips will soon embrace one of her new duties as ambassador and face of the largest whiskey brand in the world. “Making Tennessee Whiskey has been my life’s passion, and I am grateful to be able to inspire a new generation of women to follow in my footsteps.”
See the whole interview with Lexie: