In the heart of Tennessee lies Nashville, renowned worldwide for its indelible connection to music. But amidst the twang of guitars and the soulful lyrics of country tunes, there’s another rhythm that resonates — the crafting of fine spirits. With a history as rich and diverse as its musical counterpart, Nashville’s distillery scene is booming, paying homage to time-honored traditions while innovating for modern palates. Let’s embark on a spirited journey through the distilleries that define this vibrant city and its surroundings.
1. Nelson’s Green Brier Distillery, Nashville
Located in the Marathon Village area of Nashville, Nelson’s Green Brier Distillery offers a captivating blend of history and modern whiskey-making. Founded by the Nelson family before Prohibition and resurrected by two Nelson brothers over a century later, it stands as a testament to resilience and passion. Their Belle Meade Bourbon, with its multiple expressions, has become a favorite among enthusiasts. Visitors can dive deep into the Nelson family history, view the distillation process, and, of course, sample their range of crafted spirits.
2. Corsair Distillery, Nashville and Bowling Green
In the realm of innovative spirits, Corsair stands out distinctly. Beyond traditional whiskey, Corsair pushes the envelope with offerings like quinoa whiskey and pumpkin spice moonshine. With its roots in Bowling Green, Kentucky, and a prominent presence in Nashville, Corsair epitomizes the bridge between tradition and modernity. Their tours offer insights into their experimental approach, allowing guests to discover how grains transform into golden elixirs bottled with precision.
3. Jack Daniel’s Distillery, Lynchburg
Though an hour’s drive from Nashville, no whiskey pilgrimage would be complete without visiting the iconic Jack Daniel’s in Lynchburg. As the oldest registered distillery in the U.S., it’s where the world-famous Old No. 7 is crafted. Visitors can explore the rich legacy of Jack Daniel, from the limestone cave spring that provides water for the mash to the barrel house where the whiskey matures. The picturesque surroundings of Lynchburg, with its town square and vintage feel, make the trip all the more worthwhile.
4. Prichard’s Distillery, Kelso
Prichard’s Distillery, with its rustic charm, carries forward the legacy of Benjamin Prichard. Using techniques from the 1800s, they craft spirits like the Double Chocolate Bourbon and the Sweet Lucy Bourbon Liqueur. Nestled in Kelso, a short drive from Nashville, this distillery offers a quaint experience where visitors can immerse themselves in the old-world charm of spirit-making. The handcrafted copper stills and aging barrels underscore the meticulous attention to detail that goes into every bottle.
5. George Dickel Tennessee Whisky, Tullahoma
Situated amidst the scenic Cascade Hollow, George Dickel stands as a beacon of Tennessee whiskey. Their time-honored tradition of chilling the whiskey before it goes into the charcoal-mellowing process sets them apart. This method, believed to make the whiskey smoother, has been their signature since the 1800s. Visitors to the distillery can revel in the serene landscape, learn about George Dickel’s history, and sample their range of whiskies, each with its unique character and flavor profile.
6. Leiper’s Fork Distillery, Franklin
Marrying the age-old traditions of Scottish and Irish immigrants with Tennessee’s rich heritage, Leiper’s Fork Distillery is a haven for whiskey purists. Set against the backdrop of a picturesque village in Franklin, it offers an intimate experience. Every step, from mashing the grains to bottling, is done with painstaking care. Visitors can appreciate the craftsmanship, sample the spirits, and even explore the scenic byways of Leiper’s Fork Village, making it a multifaceted experience.
7. Short Mountain Distillery, Woodbury
Beyond the urban confines of Nashville, in the rolling hills of Woodbury, sits the Short Mountain Distillery. Known for their moonshine, this distillery encapsulates the rebellious spirit of Prohibition-era Tennessee. Their offerings, made using pure spring water, are a nod to the moonshiners who once secretly crafted spirits in these hills. A tour of their facilities reveals the clandestine history of moonshining, its cultural significance, and, of course, an opportunity to taste their range of clear and flavored spirits.
Nashville’s symphony isn’t just musical — it’s also distilled. The distilleries in and around the city, each with its unique story, techniques, and flavors, offer a sensory exploration that resonates long after the last drop. Whether you’re a seasoned whiskey connoisseur or a curious traveler, these distilleries serve experiences as diverse and rich as Nashville’s own tapestry of history and culture. So, the next time you find yourself in Music City, remember, that there’s a spirited encore waiting for you.