By Bobby Tanzilo Senior Editor/Writer Published Nov 16, 2020 at 9:01 AM

Sure, this is Brew City, but who says we can’t have a Whiskey Tree for the holidays?

The Beer Garden at the Deer District has gotten its 26-foot tall whiskey barrel tree made from a stack of Jack Daniel Distillery barrels back, bringing a Lynchburg, Tennessee tradition back to this beer town.

The tree is a cocktail of 112 American white oak whiskey barrels.

There has been a similar installation the last few years with at Rogues Gallery in Downtown Milwaukee, though not associated with this initiative. Alas, due to financial challenges fueled by the pandemic, that tree won't appear this year.



The tree is one of a number around the country, including at the distillery’s home in Lynchburg, where the first such tree, made of 140 barrels, debuted in 2011. This year they're also in Dallas, Minneapolis, Boston, Los Vegas, Tampa, Cleveland and Nashville.

The tree in the Deer District is not just real purrty for whiskey fans like you and me. It’s also for a good cause.

As part of Jack Daniel’s "Operation Ride Home" program, the top barrel of each tree will be auctioned off to benefit Armed Services YMCA (ASYMCA). Proceeds will help junior-enlisted service members and their families get back home for the holidays.

As of last year, the program helped more than 8,500 service members and their families with travel to all 50 states, bt raising $1.8 million in donations.

“The Jack Daniel Distillery barrel tree has always brought people together to celebrate the spirit of the season and remind us of the sacrifice of so many heroes and their loved ones” said Chris Fletcher, Jack Daniel’s new Master Distiller.

“We hope our friends in Milwaukee will stop by and join us to reflect on this special time of year. After all, we all need some extra cheer this holiday season.”

Learn more about the barrel auction, which begins Dec. 1, at

Bobby Tanzilo Senior Editor/Writer

Born in Brooklyn, N.Y., where he lived until he was 17, Bobby received his BA-Mass Communications from UWM in 1989 and has lived in Walker's Point, Bay View, Enderis Park, South Milwaukee and on the East Side.

He has published three non-fiction books in Italy – including one about an event in Milwaukee history, which was published in the U.S. in autumn 2010. Four more books, all about Milwaukee, have been published by The History Press.

With his most recent band, The Yell Leaders, Bobby released four LPs and had a songs featured in episodes of TV's "Party of Five" and "Dawson's Creek," and films in Japan, South America and the U.S. The Yell Leaders were named the best unsigned band in their region by VH-1 as part of its Rock Across America 1998 Tour. Most recently, the band contributed tracks to a UK vinyl/CD tribute to the Redskins and collaborated on a track with Italian novelist Enrico Remmert.

He's produced three installments of the "OMCD" series of local music compilations for and in 2007 produced a CD of Italian music and poetry.

In 2005, he was awarded the City of Asti's (Italy) Journalism Prize for his work focusing on that area. He has also won awards from the Milwaukee Press Club.

He can be heard weekly on 88Nine Radio Milwaukee talking about his "Urban Spelunking" series of stories.