Move over Louisville, Nashville has come into its own as a top destination for distilleries. Music City boasts several hotspots for crafting and sipping libations—from gin to bourbon and even absinthe. Long known as a “drinking town with a music problem,” Nashville has a bevy of options to cure what ails you. Why settle for a tear in your beer when you can get whiskey bent and hell bound?
The internationally recognized makers at Corsair Distillery are always experimenting with something new. With a line-up of more than 25 craft spirits available, including standard and rotating seasonal offerings, they could easily stop exploring and work with what they’ve already made—beverages that have won them more than 40 medals at spirits competitions. But why would they stop? Corsair proudly touts their product as ‘booze for badasses.’ And it doesn’t take much more than a sip or two of Small Batch Triple Smoke Whiskey to understand why. Both a distillery and a “brewstillery” (Corsair makes a high-gravity beer that falls under their malt whiskey program), Corsair’s offerings include artisan gin, absinthe and spiced rum, along with an ever-changing whiskey and bourbon rotation. What started as a small distillery in Bowling Green, Kentucky, has now expanded into three locations where connoisseurs can taste and tour, Tuesday through Sunday.
Nelson’s Green Brier Distillery
Nelson’s Green Brier Distillery’s Belle Meade Bourbon dates back to the American pre-prohibition era. The great-great-great grandsons of the original owner, Charles Nelson, resurrected the product line, which features a multitude of offerings with a spicy high-rye content. No other Bourbon tastes like Belle Meade; the brothers made sure of it by establishing a proprietary blend of four barrels per batch, using two different mash bills and yeast strains. Included in their signature brand is a cask-strength single-barrel variation, cognac and sherry cask offerings and a 91-proof white whiskey. Group tours and tastings, as well as prearranged private tours are available seven days a week. And while Greenbrier isn’t quite Nashville—it is a charming small town located a mere half hour away.
Prichard’s Distillery handcrafts unique spirits in small batches, using techniques and recipes that have been in the family for hundreds of years. Prichard’s quality rums and whiskeys are distilled in copper pots and stored in 15-gallon to 53-gallon charred white oak barrels, which preserve a traditional taste. The original distillery is based in Kelso, Tennessee, with a second distillery in Nashville, located at the Fontanel, which also features dining, lodging, zip lining and an outdoor music venue. Prichard’s is also known for its innovative experimentations including the Double Chocolate Bourbon, a one-of-a-kind product formed as a collaboration with Nashville chocolatier Olive & Sinclair.
SPEAKeasy Spirits Distillery
SPEAKeasy Spirits is a West Nashville artisan distillery producing a wide variety of libations including Pickers Vodka, Pennington’s Flavored Rye Whiskey, Collins Cordials and their flagship brand, Whisper Creek Tennessee Sipping Cream. Whisper Creek is the American take on Irish cream. It’s made with 100% aged Tennessee Whiskey, real dairy cream and more than 30 all-natural flavors. Whisper Creek is available in two flavors—original and mocha. Just like Irish cream, you can have Whisper Creek on its own or add it to coffee or your favorite root beer. SPEAKeasy Spirits Distillery is currently closed for tours.
Nashville Craft has been in operation since March 2016. The distillery features a tasting room and tours and focuses on utilizing local and regional ingredients. Their Naked Biscuit Sorghum Spirit is made of sweet sorghum cane, a crop that has been grown in Tennessee for generations, while its Crane City Gin sardonically references Nashville’s newfound, non-stop growth and crane-infested skyline. The handcrafted gin is made from scratch, starting with wheat and malted barley, then infused with seven botanicals, and hand-distilled in a 250-gallon copper pot.
Leiper’s Fork Distillery
Sure, Leiper’s Fork isn’t quite Nashville, but it is just a stone’s throw away. Home to local and national celebrities and rolling acres of land, it’s an ideal location for a mid-day liquid-sipping adventure. Leiper’s Fork Distillery premium spirits utilizing local ingredients and pure limestone-filtered water. The family-owned-and-operated venture offers various whiskeys under three brands: Old Natchez Trace White Whiskey, White Maple Tennessee Whiskey and Leiper’s Fork Distillery Whiskey. Its retail store is located in a 200-year-old log cabin featuring a tasting room that can accommodate up to 25 people per tour.
For additional Tennessee distillery resources, please refer to the Tennessee Distillers Guild.
Emily Davidson Nemoy is a freelance writer based in Nashville, Tenn. When she’s not at her computer or on her yoga mat, she can be found at live music venues happily spending her excess cash on concert tickets.