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No matter where you travel in Tennessee, there’s always an exciting opportunity to sample world-class wines, beers, and of course – spirits, in particular: with particular emphasis on whiskey. Whiskey is so famous in this state; in fact, there’s a dedicated trail you can explore, Tennessee Whiskey Trail, which highlights the 25 famous and small-batch distilleries across the state. Whiskey connoisseur or just a bit curious, there is something for everyone along this trail and many stories to be uncovered. Here are a few distilleries along the Tennessee Whiskey Trail to get your journey started.
You’ll remember East Tennessee for its breathtaking mountain scenery and genuine Southern hospitality. Once you visit the ten distilleries on the Tennessee Whiskey Trail, the spirits crafted here will stick with you, too. Take a few days or a full week to start your distillery discovery. What you might not remember is how many whiskey distilleries you visited if you were to drink in all ten of them (you’d also need a week for that – a few days should do if you’re hitting up just a few). Start in Chattanooga and head north up the I-75, where you’ll finish in the Great Smoky Mountains – the USA’s most popular national park.
- Chattanooga Whiskey Co., Chattanooga: A micro-distillery and tasting room, Chattanooga Whiskey was the first distillery in Chattanooga in over a century. Its Tennessee High Malt was released in August 2019, after eight years in the making.
- Brushy Mountain Distillery, Petros: Located inside the historic Brushy Mountain State Penitentiary (a maximum-security prison until 2009), Brushy Mountain Distillery is the only legal spirits distillery located in a prison. You can see how its Tennessee whiskey, moonshine and vodka are made and even taste a few. Brushy Mountain also hosts historical tours where you may find there may be more than one type of spirit there.
- Tennessee Distilling Co., Sevierville: Keep heading east via the historic Thunder Road – a route nicknamed after a Prohibition-era undercover operation set to catch moonshiners’ illegal spirit production. Old Tennessee Distilling Co. pays homage to the legendary route and whiskey runners’ spirit.
- Old Forge Distillery, Pigeon Forge: The makers at Old Forge Distillery grind their own grains and use old-fashioned methods of distilling to craft some truly amazing spirits. Try the locally crafted moonshine while you’re there. After your tastings, visit the historic Old Mill Restaurant and shops next door: an 1830s gristmill-turned unique dining and shopping destination on the banks of the Little Pigeon River.
- Ole Smoky Moonshine Distillery and Sugarlands Distilling Company, Gatlinburg: Located along the main drag in downtown Gatlinburg, these two distilleries can be covered in one trip. The Ole Smoky Moonshine Distillery is one of four of its kind across Tennessee, together attracting 4.5 million visitors in 2019.
For more information on distilleries in East Tennessee, click here.
Middle Tennessee is home to some of the world’s most recognisable alcohol brands, yet at the same time, you’ll also find some of the smallest ‘craft distillers’ in Tennessee. There’s a diverse offering of distilleries here: from cool urban hangouts in downtown Nashville, eclectic honky tonk-inspired hangouts, to some nestled away in the forests and hills.
- Old Glory Distilling Co., Clarksville: 30 minutes north of Nashville, you’ll find Old Glory Distilling Co., a small-batch artisan distillery just off Interstate 24. Here you’ll witness see many barrels of bourbon and Tennessee whiskey aging, as well as a vodka that is sure to tickle the tastebuds.
- Pennington Distilling Co., Nashville: Here, you can see the staff make their famous Pickers Vodka, as well as a Tennessee straight sour mash whiskey. Head east into town and stop at Nelson’s Green Brier Distillery and Corsair Distillery, which are within walking distance of each other in the North Gulch district. There are seven distilleries in Nashville alone!
- Leiper’s Fork Distillery, Franklin: Sample some hand-crafted whiskey in this quiet yet vibrant town in Williamson County. Leiper’s Fork Distillery brings back the lost art of small-batch distillation using local premium ingredients.
- Short Mountain Distillery, Woodbury: After passing through the town of Murfreesboro, a few more miles east will bring you to Short Mountain Distillery. In the small town of Woodbury, Short Mountain Distillery is a craft, small-batch distillery that crafts authentic Tennessee moonshine, organic Tennessee whiskey, bourbon, and other original spirits.
- Jack Daniel’s Distillery, Lynchburg: Jack Daniel’s, is the world’s best-selling individual whiskey brand. It was born in Lynchburg, created by Jack Daniel in 1866. The distillery was born here (created by Jack Daniel) at the oldest registered distillery in the United States, which was established in 1866! Jack Daniel’s premium Tennessee whiskey is still made using iron-free cave spring water and is charcoal mellowed and matured at the Lynchburg distillery on site.
- Nearest Green Distillery, Shelbyville: Just a 30-minute drive south of Jack Daniel’s Distillery is the Nearest Green Distillery, which creates the famous Uncle Nearest whiskey. The distillery honours Nathan Green, who - known by his family and friends as Uncle Nearest - was the first African-American master distiller on record in the USA. Fun fact: Jack Daniel learned everything about distilling from Uncle Nearest’s fine whiskey.
For more information on distilleries in Middle Tennessee, click here.
Old Dominick Distillery is a family-run operation in Memphis that focuses on Tennessee-style whiskey. It is a stunning distillery to see, thanks to its 1920s-era warehouse that has been renovated to include two tasting rooms for visitors to enjoy. Following your tasting, take a stroll down the famous Beale Street Historic District to continue the party.
For more information about the Tennessee Whiskey Trail, click here. You can plan your trip, download a trail map, learn more about the legendary distilleries, and pick up a digital passport that earns you a gift once you’ve visited all 25 stops.