While Kentucky is known as the Bourbon Country, with Bardstown as the Bourbon Capital of the World, many distilleries are making “America’s native spirit” just south in Tennessee. With similar temperatures, limestone-filtered water, and access to grains, Tennessee and Kentucky have a lot in common.
So, where can you find bourbon in Tennessee? Here’s our guide to Tennessee bourbon and visiting the distilleries where its made.
Tennessee Bourbon Distilleries
Currently, at least eight of the 30+ distilleries on the Tennessee Whiskey Trail are producing and selling bourbon. Bourbon and Tennessee whiskey often start out the exact same way. In most cases, the only real difference between bourbon and Tennessee whiskey is the charcoal-filtering process that many brands use to finish Tennessee whiskey. We previously covered the definition of Tennessee whiskey in a blog post. READ IT HERE
Nelson’s Green Brier Distillery
This Nashville-area distillery makes the largest range of small batch bourbons in Tennessee. The home of the Belle Meade Bourbon brand, Nelson’s Green Brier Distillery produces several expressions of sour mash, single barrel, cask-strength, and cask-finished bourbons. Specialty cask finishes include sherry casks, cognac casks and Madeira casks. These unique, limited release bourbons are available sporadically throughout the year.
Belle Meade bourbon dates back more than 100 years. The current owners, Charlie and Andy Nelson, are direct descendants of the brand’s founder Charles Nelson. They brought back Belle Meade in 2016. The original distillery closed when Tennessee Prohibition began in the early 1900s. The Nashville bourbon distillery is named after a historic plantation nearby. Guided tours of the Belle Meade Plantation pair great with a Nelson’s Green Brier tour!
Leiper’s Fork Distillery
The team at Leiper’s Fork Distillery hand selected premium barrels of bourbon and blended them to create Hunter’s Select Barrel Tennessee Bourbon Whiskey. The 9-year bourbon has a corn-heavy mash bill with hints of rye and malted barley. Hunter’s Select is named after War of 1812 veteran Colonel Henry Hunter who owned the property where the distillery resides today. Hunter was a distiller in the early 1800s and represents the spirit of Tennessee for the Leiper’s Fork brand.
They’re making whiskey and bourbon at Leiper’s Fork Distillery now, but it will not be ready for store shelves for a few years. Unaged Tennessee whiskey and rye whiskey are available in the tasting room until their own bourbon is ready. They craft bourbon on a small scale, with only 8 to 10 barrels a week being produced and added to their aging warehouses for the next 5 to 7 years.
Limited supplies of Benjamin Prichard’s Double Barreled Bourbon Whiskey have been released by Prichard’s Distillery. Their bourbon making philosophy includes a labor intensive process that includes a second barrel aging component. Whiskey is first aged for seven to nine years and brought to 92 proof and then rebarreld for another 3 to 5 years. Prichard’s believes oak adds flavors of vanilla, raisins, honeycomb and more to round out their bourbon.
Prichard’s Distillery was the first new, legal distillery to open in Tennessee after the repeal of Prohibition. With two facilities, in Kelso, Tennessee and a new Nashville bourbon distillery, Prichard’s has won many awards and accolades in its 20+ year history.
Old Forge Distillery
In Pigeon Forge, Tennessee, Old Forge Distillery is making Old Forge Reserve Single Barrel Bourbon. Aged for 9 years in white oak barrels, their 89 proof Tennessee bourbon is available now. Distilled in copper pot stills, the small batch bourbon is among a line of products produced there including vapor-infused moonshines, rum, vodka and more.
Knox Whiskey Works
Over in Knoxville, Tennessee, Knox Whiskey Works sells their Knox Whiskey Works Silver Release Bourbon Whiskey. Made with locally sourced heirloom corn, their Tennessee bourbon is bottled at 90 proof. The grain to barrel operation utilizes a custom 300+ gallon stainless steel and copper pot still. Every bourbon is twice distilled before being bottled and barreled. They also have a tiny 25 gallon still for testing innovative new products and spirits recipes.
Old Dominick Distillery
Generations of Domenico Canale’s family values have culminated in the creation of Old Dominick High-Rye Bourbon. Not yet available, their bourbon takes a different route with a mash bill high in rye. It makes up 44% of their bourbon recipe. They call it a Memphis Whiskey and plan to release it soon.
Short Mountain Distillery
Barreled in 2016, limited supplies of Short Mountain Tennessee Bourbon Whiskey are offered for sale. The small batch, 93 proof Tennessee bourbon whiskey is made using more than 100 years of combined distilling experience. Short Mountain bourbon is aged less than two years. High quality and even higher proof moonshines made by the Kaufman brothers of Short Mountain are making waves in Woodbury, Tenn.
Old Glory Distilling Co.
The first batches of Old Glory Bourbon Whiskey have hit the shelves at their Clarksville, Tennessee distillery. Old Glory Distilling Co. Made with 73% corn, 19% rye and 8% malted barley, Old Glory’s bourbon joins the brand’s line of Tennessee vodka, white rum and moonshine. Their artisan distillery will release more bourbon in the coming years, when its ready. Some Tennessee whiskeys were aged in smaller, half-size barrels for quicker aging.
Nashville Bourbon Tours
Mint Julep Experiences can work with your group to plan a Nashville bourbon tour itinerary. Call today to coordinate your bourbon adventure or request a tour online. Our “Rising Stars” Tennessee Whiskey Adventure visits Leiper’s Fork Distillery every Friday, Saturday and Sunday. It’s a great way to see three craft distilleries in one day. Tours depart from downtown Nashville’s Omni Hotel each morning and cost $159 per person. SHOP NOW
About the Author – Rachel Nix
Rachel Nix has been Director of Marketing at Mint Julep since 2017. Her extensive bourbon education includes becoming an Executive Bourbon Steward through the Stave & Thief Society and graduating from Woodford Reserve’s Bourbon Academy. She is a Certified Tourism Ambassador and enthusiastic advocate for her adopted hometown of Louisville. When she’s not promoting Mint Julep’s portfolio of southern experiences, she can be found walking her dog or enjoying a drink on a Germantown patio.