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Taste Tennessee’s History at 4 Gatlinburg Distilleries

a glass of wine on a table

There’s one thing you can’t escape when visiting Tennessee — its world-famous moonshine. This ubiquitous spirit is a staple of the state, home of some of the best whiskey and moonshine in the world.

The history of moonshine runs deep in Tennessee’s Smoky Mountains, stretching back to when Scottish and Irish immigrants arrived in Appalachia centuries ago. They brought with them the knowledge of how to distill whiskey, but when an excise tax was imposed, farmers could no longer afford to make it. So they took to the mountains to produce their spirits illicitly by moonlight, and “moonshine” was born.

While the name remains, it no longer refers to an illegal, untaxed spirit. A law introduced in 2009 changed the game, allowing legal moonshine to be produced in Tennessee.

Wondering where to go for a taste of moonshine while in Gatlinburg? Check out the top Gatlinburg moonshine distilleries.

Ole Smoky Moonshine Distillery

Tennessee’s whiskey and moonshine history lives on in this iconic distillery, which has been passing down family recipes for 200 years. One of the more popular distilleries in the country, it’s the perfect place for a moonshine tasting that is both educational and delicious!

Ole Smoky has three locations throughout Sevier County, but if you only visit one, make sure it’s The Holler in Gatlinburg. Sample the signature flavors like White Lightnin’ as well as some special varieties like lemon drop and apple pie, and learn about the moonshine making process. If you do a tasting, you’ll receive a $5 coupon which you can use to buy a bottle (or mason jar) of your favorite spirit.

Can’t get enough of Ole Smoky? Check out their Pigeon Forge location, The Barn. Get to know the moonshine experts as you enjoy a drink or two and catch some live music! The Barn often hosts free concerts featuring big-name bluegrass bands.

Sugarlands Distilling Co.

If you love innovative cocktails with unexpected flavors, you can’t miss a visit to Sugarlands Distilling Co. Their specialty lies in unique moonshine and Appalachian sippin’ cream varieties, like maple bacon, peanut butter and jelly, blueberry muffin, and pumpkin spice latte.

Visit the distillery for a free tour of the still house and a $5 sampling (which comes with a $5 voucher to redeem at the store.) If you’re thirsty for more, you can check out their tours and workshops, including a blended cocktails tour that’s perfect for budding mixologists.

Doc Collier Moonshine

As you learn about Tennessee moonshine, you’ll probably hear the name William “Doc” Collier a few times. This distiller became a Smoky Mountains legend in the early 1900s thanks to his popular moonshine recipe made with fresh mountain water. This tradition continues today, giving Doc Collier moonshine its signature taste.

Visit the distillery to get a taste of their spirits, with classic flavors like blackberry and peach. The old-fashioned country store atmosphere and time-tested recipe will take you back in time. While the moonshine is lower proof here than at other distilleries, it’s deliciously drinkable, especially the fruit flavors.

Old Forge Distillery

Just 20 minutes from Gatlinburg, Pigeon Forge is a city steeped in whiskey and moonshine history. One of the staples of the city is the Old Forge Distillery, located near The Old Mill where the city’s historic iron forge once stood. Old Forge uses the mill to grind their own grains, which then get turned into award-winning spirits.

Their 1830 Original moonshine is the most popular and decorated product, but they also make bourbon, rum, vodka, and cream liquor. The distillery offers free tastings, where you can see for yourself why their spirits have earned multiple awards. You can also get a taste of their products at the Old Mill Creamery and Old Mill Candy Kitchen, where they’re used in creative confections.

Distilling is a central part of Tennessee’s history, which is why you can’t miss a taste of the state’s signature spirits during your visit. Want to experience it all? Book a moonshine and wine tour and visit some of the best spots in the city, all in one day!