Bottoms Up: Take a Ride Along the Gatlinburg Distillery Trail
Photo Credit: daveynin on Flickr
Moonshine and whiskey have long been at the heart of Appalachian culture and history.
Gatlinburg, Tennessee has done its best to keep the culture alive, and nothing goes better with the crunch of leaves underfoot or that chill in the air than a draught of locally made fire water to warm you up. If you’re planning a fall trip to the area, make your own distillery tour with these four awesome drinking stops (but we recommend taking a cab).
Sugarlands Distilling Company
One of the most popular moonshine and whiskey experiences in Gatlinburg, Sugarlands Distilling Company is open everyday and always has free samples. They make a wide variety of styles and flavors of moonshine ranging from apple pie to cinnamon to, of course, Southern sweet tea.
Sugarlands uses artisanal stone mills to grind their grain mixed with water from the nearby Smoky Mountains. If you want a behind-the-scenes look at how they make their goods, the distillers offer a free walking tour complete with Appalachian storytelling, but make sure you book in advance as it is quite popular. In addition to the Appalachian tradition of distilling excellent booze, Sugarlands also carries on the musical culture with a lineup of live music and performers to enjoy while sippin’ your shine.
Ole Smoky Distillery
Making moonshine from a 100-year-old family recipe, Ole Smoky Tennessee Moonshine Distillery is the godfather and OG of Appalachian hooch. The first federally licensed distillery in East Tennessee, it is the oldest and most recognized name in the region. They offer 15 different flavors to taste and take home.
Ole Smoky has a location in Gatlinburg and Pigeon Forge, though Gatlinburg is the original. Visitors can learn a lot about the history of the legalization of moonshine via a family-friendly self-guided tour with plenty of distillers around to entertain and answer your questions. Plan your visit for the afternoon, when a live bluegrass band plays from noon to night with plenty of seating to take in the crisp fall air while sipping on some White Lightnin’.
Davy Crocketts Distillery
Named after the famous American pioneer, Davy Crocketts Distillery produces whiskey good enough to brave the wildest frontier — or at least conquer a Friday night.
While there isn’t a tour, there is a bar to sample plenty of stiff drinks.
Davy Crocketts is known for its distinct aged taste and unique flavors, one being a cream whiskey named “Tennessee Mud.” Stop in for some free samples and plenty of merchandise based around the mythical man with the pioneering spirit.
Doc Collier Moonshine Distillery
Named after William “Doc” Collier, this family-owned distillery began on nearby English Mountain out of the roots of Appalachia itself. A local legend and purveyor, his moonshine was whispered about as the best in town before expanding to a storefront.
Now — 120 years later — the distillery still uses the same recipe Doc perfected generations ago. The name of the game is staying local however, and all the water used in the distilling process is sourced from the moonshine’s original home on English Mountain. While there are plenty of flavors to try, you can’t go wrong with the original moonshine complete with the classic “XXX.” While you’re enjoying the fiery burn, check out some of the original equipment Doc used to make the very concoction in your hand.
Sponsored by Gatlinburg Convention and Visitors Bureau
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