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Eight Must-Visit Nashville Distilleries

The history of distilled spirits in Tennessee is a long one. For well over a century, moonshiners have been making the good stuff in the hills, dodging the long arm of the law, and passing their recipes down through the generations. Building on that heritage, today’s Nashville distilleries come in all shapes and sizes.

Spirits aging in barrels at a craft distillery in Nashville, Tennessee.
Aging whiskey

Some distilleries in Nashville thrive on innovation, making uncommon flavors and blends to keep customers coming back. Others draw on proven family recipes and strong Tennessee pride to make the best whiskey (and more) this part of the South has ever seen. Either way, there are a lot of great spirits to try and fun distilleries to visit on a trip to Nashville. These are some of our favorites.

Corsair Distillery

Corsair Distillery is always pushing the envelope in craft spirits. Founded by childhood friends Darek Bell and Andrew Webber, the Nashville distillery has grown tremendously over the last decade, and we’re always happy when we see their whiskey on the shelf across the US and abroad.

Shelf lined with bottles of whiskey at Corsair Distillery
Some of Corsair’s product line

Constantly innovating and trying new things, Corsair has one of the broadest product lines we’ve seen in a craft distillery anywhere, with more than 25 spirits on offer at different times of the year.

Corsair has traditional spirits from gin to at multiple types of whiskey. They’re also known for their more adventurous products like red absinthe, and vanilla bean vodka. But what really persuaded us to visit Corsair Distillery was their unique genever, a gin-like spirit that we first discovered on a trip to Amsterdam, where genever has been made for over 400 years.

Genever bottle and cocktail on a counter at Corsair Distillery in Nashville
Genever cocktail at Corsair’s headquarters

Known for experimentation and crafting a damn fine cocktail, Corsair Distillery’s award-winning products are available at their two Nashville distilleries and around the US. A tour here is a fun date night idea. See their website for information or just stop in for a sip.

Nelson’s Green Brier Distillery

History is at the heart of Nelson’s Green Brier Distillery in Nashville. Brothers Andy and Charlie Nelson have resurrected the family whiskey business that was once located in nearby Greenbrier, Tennessee, before the days of Prohibition.

Tasting room bar at Nelson's Green Brier Distillery along with a portrait of Charles Nelson
The bar at Nelson’s Green Briar

In the late 1880s, Andy and Charlie’s great-great-great grandfather Charles Nelson was even more popular than Jack Daniel, making the top-selling Tennessee whiskey in the world. Charles passed away in 1891, and his wife Louisa took over. She ran the business successfully for nearly 20 years, but Prohibition put an end to the family’s good fortunes.

One hundred years after the first Nelson distillery closed, Andy and Charlie re-formed the family business based on the original recipes that made it so popular. The history and family pride is evident in everything about the distillery.

Now, the Nelson’s Green Brier Distillery product line features a variety of offerings, including whiskeys, bourbons, and sherries – a few named after Nashville’s famous Belle Meade plantation. You’ll also find a product in honor of Louisa, a coffee caramel pecan liqueur that’s named after her.

Four whiskey bottles at Nelson's Green Brier Distillery in Nashville.
Green Brier and Belle Meade spirits

Nelson’s Green Brier Distillery offers tours and tastings at their warehouse and distillery on Clinton Street where you can even see some of the original bottles from the 1880s.

Ole Smoky Distillery

Ole Smoky Distillery in Nashville isn’t just a distillery—it’s an experience. The location at 6th & Peabody is 30,000 square feet, including Ole Smoky and Yee-Haw Brewing Co. in addition to a taco shop and a food truck featuring local favorite Prince’s Hot Chicken. With live music, indoor and outdoor spaces, and sports games on the giant movie screen, you could practically spend all day here.

Jars of brightly colored moonshine on shelves.
The rainbow of Ole Smoky products

The focus during my visit was the offerings at Ole Smoky, which bills itself as the leading craft distiller in the US. Drawing on the heritage of the moonshiners in the Smoky Mountains, Ole Smoky makes a cornucopia of over 40 types of brightly-colored moonshine and flavored whiskeys from a 100-year-old recipe.

Many of Ole Smoky’s dozens of flavors are available for tasting at the large bar. I opted for the full tasting, which included 8 moonshines (one was a surprisingly good moonshine-soaked pickle) and 2 flavored whiskeys along with a Yee Haw beer. Although it sounds like a huge amount of alcohol, the tastings are 1-2 sips each, so it’s not over-the-top.

Large moonshine tasting bar in a large room at Ole Smoky Distillery
The tasting bar at Ole Smoky

Ole Smoky is a place for people who are looking for a casual, fun time. Don’t expect to discuss mash bills, angel’s share, or how long a product is aged. Just lean in and try the apple pie moonshine (there’s a reason it’s the most popular) or the salty caramel whiskey. Many flavors are also available in cocktails at the bar.

Pennington Distilling Co.

Established in 2011, Pennington Distilling Co. is located in Nashville’s Nations neighborhood. The grain-to-glass distillery has aged and clear spirits along with other products.

We loved their Davidson Reserve Tennessee Whiskey, which is filtered through maple charcoal and aged a minimum of four years. With flavors of caramel and toasted marshmallows, it’s the first locally distilled small batch Tennessee whiskey since Prohibition, a point of pride in a town that takes its whiskey very seriously.

Five shot glasses full of spirits on a wooden bar

Pennington’s flagship brand Whisper Creek Tennessee Sipping Cream goes well beyond the expected. The cream liqueur combines the characteristics of Tennessee whiskey with caramel, molasses, and pecan favors. Think Bailey’s meets Jack Daniel’s…if that delicious concoction were 40 proof. Even its bottle is unique, combining the look of a classic whiskey jug and an old-fashioned milk bottle.

Pennington Distilling Co. also produces two vodka lines—Pickers Vodka and Walton’s Vodka. Pickers is distilled 11 times and comes in original and several flavors infused with actual fruit. Walton’s Finest Vodka is made with 100% Tennessee red winter wheat and cut with Tennessee limestone water.

Tours and tastings at Pennington Distilling Co. are offered Thursday through Saturday.

Nashville Craft Distillery

Nashville Craft Distillery is a laid-back place to sample some familiar spirits and try a few you may not have had before. Whether you take a tour, have a tasting, or stop in for a cocktail, the staff will tell you everything you want to know about the products, which is great for people like me who want to know all the details.

Whiteboard with a description of distilling process hanging on stack of whiskey barrels.
Spirits aging in barrels

Founder and distiller Bruce Boeko—a former DNA lab director—shifted his scientific focus from biology to the slightly more fun fermentation and distilling, opening Nashville Craft in 2016. Along with the distiller team, he has created a portfolio of interesting spirits and liqueurs.  

Everything at Nashville Craft Distillery is made from scratch. Whether they’re made from sorghum, honey, or grain, the small-batch spirits all start in-house with a focus on local and regional ingredients.

Bottles of spirits and shot glasses on the bar at Nashville Craft Distillery.
Part of the product line

Naked Biscuit and Golden Biscuit (the barrel-aged version of Naked) are smooth sorghum spirits that you can try straight or in a cocktail. The gin and whiskey offerings are also excellent. My favorite product was the spiced honey liqueur, which tastes just like it sounds with a hint of sweetness and the flavors of fall.

Leiper’s Fork Distillery

Three whiskey tasting glasses on a bar.
Whiskey tasting at Leiper’s Fork

A visit to Leiper’s Fork feels like a step back in time to the late 1800s—1897, to be specific. That’s when the Bottled-in-Bond Act was passed, which set strict standards that assured consumers that their whiskey was pure. Leiper’s Fork’s Bottled in Bond products are handmade and small batch, which is a badge of honor for them. They even use corn grown on the owner’s own farm.

A tour of their facility in Franklin takes visitors through the production and unique blending process. You also get to see their 500-gallon Scottish pot still that was custom-built for the distillery.

The highlight of the tour is the tasting that takes place in a 200-year-old cabin (can you tell history and authenticity is a theme here?) We got to try three types—bourbon, rye, and Tennessee whiskey. Leiper’s Fork uses a sweet mash fermentation process that imparts a mellow character, which is evident in the tasting.

Check out their special events that range from wine pairing dinners and concerts to cigar nights and haunted tours.

Jack Daniel’s Distillery

If you’re looking to venture a little farther, Lynchburg, Tennessee, is only about 90 minutes from Nashville. This tiny, dry town is the home of the top-selling American whiskey in the world—Jack Daniel’s. Every year, Lynchburg attracts over 300,000 visitors looking to see how Tennessee whiskey is made, making the distillery one of the top attractions in Tennessee.

Buildings at Jack Daniels Distillery
Facilities on the Jack Daniel’s tour

At the Jack Daniel’s distillery, visitors can see how craftsmanship and attention to detail have built a fine brand and drinks that people around the world swear by. A distillery tour here is also a walk through the 158-year history of Jack Daniel—the man and his eponymous products.

Jack Daniel distillery sign.

On a tour, you’ll see the grain, the distillation process, and the 10-foot-tall stacks of sugar maple charcoal that help set Jack Daniel’s apart. All this is before the white whiskey gets its color and flavor from handcrafted toasted oak barrels built on-site.

There are several different tour options, and we chose the one that includes a tasting of the five core Jack Daniel’s products, including the Tennessee Whiskey, Tennessee Honey, and Gentleman Jack. It’s an informative and entertaining tour even if you’re not a big whiskey drinker–we both came away as fans.

Cascade Hollow Distilling Co.

Cascade Hollow Distilling Co. is probably more familiar to most people at the makers of George Dickel Tennessee Whisky. Despite the enormous popularity of their products, a visit here doesn’t feel like a visit to a large corporation. Instead, it feels like a country cabin in the Tennessee hills. There is no cell reception or traffic—just great whiskey.  

Large building with a wooden front porch at Cascade Hollow Distilling.
Cascade Hollow

Just over an hour from Nashville, a tour at Cascade Hollow traces the story of George Dickel, a German immigrant who became a successful merchant and ultimately one of the top whiskey makers in the US. You’ll learn how his wife Augusta helped the company prosper after George died and the unique way it kept going despite Prohibition.

Today, Cascade Hollow prides itself on its products that are “handmade the hard way”—filtered with sugar maple charcoal that is burned and transported by hand in the hollow. You’ll learn about the process and see the fermentation and distilling as it happens at one of the top distilleries in Tennessee.

Four whiskey glasses and tasting notes.
Whiskey tasting at the distillery

The hour-long tour ends with a tasting of four whiskies ranging from George Dickel No. 1—an unaged white corn whisky—to their high-end George Dickel Barrel Select, which is aged for at least 10 years. If you’re feeling brave, you can also try the variety aged in Tabasco barrels for a bit of a kick.

We were the guests of Jack Daniel’s. All opinions of the flavorful and barrel-aged are our own.

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ChaCha W.

Wednesday 8th of September 2021

Honestly don't know how you didn't add Uncle Nearest distillery since you added Jack Daniels to this list??‍♀️

Laura Longwell

Thursday 9th of September 2021

We would love to get there as soon as we can. Uncle Nearest not only makes excellent whiskey but has a great, historically important story. The distillery has existed for less than 2 years and has been closed for more than half that time, so it's made it impossible for us to visit yet. Hopefully we can make it on our next trip to Tennessee.


Sunday 22nd of January 2017

As a born-and-bred Tennessean—I grew up 15 minutes from Jack—you got everything right! You only missed one: George Dickel, which is actually tastier and just as historic as JD!

Laura Longwell

Sunday 22nd of January 2017

Well now I have something to add to my list for my next visit!


Tuesday 20th of December 2016

I do love whiskey. My first was getting to know the Scotch Whisky when I was in Edinburgh. Ever since, whisky (or whiskey) became my go-to drink! I've been to Nashville but not distilleries. I have to plan a trip!

Laura Longwell

Tuesday 20th of December 2016

It took us awhile to develop a taste for whiskey, but practice makes perfect :) And Nashville is a great place to practice!

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