by Parks Marketing on Monday, August 21st, 2023 at 11:00am.
When one thinks of Champagne, France, one instantly conjures up the memory of their proprietary sparkling white wine. Similarly, Napa Valley is renowned for crafting the best wine in the United States. And in Tennessee? We have our world-famous whiskey distilleries, of course!
Are you searching for a delightfully engaging and undeniably boozy way to enjoy these precious remaining weeks of summer? Then we highly recommend picking up a Tennessee Whiskey Trail Passport and visiting the following Ten Best Distilleries in Middle Tennessee. Be sure to have your passport stamped at each distillery, and you’ll have a great souvenir of your adventures.
Reader, if you’re more of a bourbon or vodka connoisseur, don’t worry—we have included several distilleries that specialize in a variety of top-shelf spirits. Read on to find the destinations that are the best fit for you!
Leiper’s Fork Distillery prides itself on producing top-notch premium whiskey and bourbon. They use only local ingredients, and each batch begins with their proprietary limestone-filtered water, which yields a distinct flavor profile that simply can’t be replicated elsewhere.
Although it’s been less than a decade since Leiper’s Fork opened, they have pledged to remain true to the small-batch methods that have made the whiskey of Middle Tennessee’s hills beloved for generations.
It’s a safe bet that if you’re in Tennessee, you’re a fan of live music. If so, you may wish to schedule your tour for a time during which the distillery blends whiskey, bourbon, and local music, emphasizing the community-centered ethos that makes this unique location feel as welcoming as a friend’s porch.
Just like at your friend’s place, you will be tempted to stay until dusk, and we do believe you should. While you’re there, be sure to take advantage of the fire pits and picnic tables as you sip a warming glass of pure Tennessee whiskey or bourbon.
In 2006, the Nelson brothers patronized a butcher on Distillery Road. The two made an off-hand comment about the whiskey distillery their great-great-great grandfather had operated in 1860 and were surprised when the butcher connected them with a local historian. This historian then was thrilled to show the Nelson brothers two pristine, centuries-old bottles of their ancestor’s Nelson’s Green Brier Tennessee whiskey!
In that moment, the two men felt as though they had found their calling. They determined to resurrect their ancestor’s legacy through his artisan methods and have never looked back.
Today, Nelson’s Green Brier Tennessee carefully crafts small-batch whiskey in downtown Nashville. Their beloved spirits are now distributed nationally, and the brothers continue to add their own creativity to whiskeys that they offer alongside their great-great-great grandfather’s original recipe Tennessee whiskey.
Your visit to Green Brier Distillery will be an immersive experience into the history, the methods, and the products of this historic family endeavor. If you have never been on a whiskey tasting adventure, you will feel right at home as your tour guide explains the intricacies of each spirit you’ll savor, complete with a flavor wheel to help you fully connect with your senses of taste and smell.
Big Machine Distillery is a premium vodka distillery, full bar, and attached restaurant, which is to say it’s a delightful way to spend a full evening. This family-owned distillery has earned its fame through the work of the Borchetta brothers, who you may know thanks to Scott Borchetta’s record label, Big Machine Records. With a portfolio known for launching the careers of artists like Taylor Swift, Tim McGraw, Reba McEntire, and Lady A, there’s no doubt you’re already a fan of his whether you knew it or not!
Mark Borchetta’s claim to fame is no less impressive, as he’s been the sponsor of several musical talents, including the much-loved artist Taylor Swift.
Once known for helping refine musicians and singers, the Borchettas now produce vodka that is refined by the one-of-a-kind Platinum Filtration System. By sending vodka through these outstandingly precise filtration beds a full twenty-five times, Big Machine vodka becomes the perfectly smooth, much lauded vodka we know today.
In addition to their famous vodka, Big Machine has also expanded into Tennessee whiskey, New American-style gin, single-batch rum, single-batch bourbon, and of course, moonshine. Stop by for the tour, then take your time at the bar and restaurant, all of which are equally sublime.
Please note that you may wish to visit the restaurant before taking the distillery tour, after which you can determine if you’re up for patronizing the bar! Make no mistake, this distillery will make sure your tour includes a generous pour of their collection of spirits.
Tucked away on 600 acres of lush, verdant woodlands, the George Dickel Distillery waits to offer you a taste of their whisky (no “e” here, per Mr. Dickel himself) produced only with water pulled from the limestone stream that meanders through their land. Your leisurely tour will cover the history of the distillery itself as well as the five stages of distilling involved in creating this pure Tennessee whisky.
Here in Cascade Hollow you be offered rich, complex spirits as well as nearly pure distilled corn whisky, thus you’ll be able to decide the blend that just hits best. On your way out, do visit the impressively large gift store to purchase whisky, branded distillery merch, and locally produced goods.
On the heels of Chattanooga’s historic vote to bring whiskey production back to the city, Chattanooga Whiskey became the first distillery to revive the historic process of crafting a malt-focused, straight bourbon whiskey they dubbed Tennessee High Malt.
Today, you can visit them at their Experimental Distillery and taste the whiskey that took them eight long years from first fermentation to final release. Your tour guide will share stories about the 100-year prohibition that kept whiskey out of Chattanooga and pour you spirits that will taste like stepping back in time.
If you think you aren’t a whiskey fan, we urge you to give Chattanooga Whiskey a try! Their complex, exciting, rotating flavors have made converts of many reluctant visitors.
After learning the trade from the Jack Daniels, the craftspeople at Company Distilling have struck out on their own. While the familiar aroma of their spirits will draw you in, Company’s bourbon and gin are now adored in their own right. Expect to experience complex, refreshing, and fruit-laden flavor notes.
Despite their distillery’s deceptively modest exterior, this intimate spot is a must-visit on your next visit to Franklin. As one of the destinations on Franklin Visitor Center’s Makers and Masters Trail, this counts toward the four stamps you’ll have to gather to claim a limited-run tee!
Nashville Craft Distillery is located just outside downtown Nashville, making their spirits true Music City gems. Though they have only been open since 2016, the chemistry background of owner Bruce Boeko has served Nashville Craft well, resulting in outstanding gin, whiskey (including an exceptional honey whiskey), sorghum spirits, absinthe, and an ever-expanding range of additional craft creations.
Science lovers, seekers of knowledge, and nerds of all stripes, this is the tour for you! Come learn all about the intricate chemistry behind fermentation processes and the range of locally sourced ingredients that make Nashville Craft the beloved distillery it is today. Enjoy cocktails, purchase a bottle, and expand your knowledge base at this unique local destination.
No matter your location, and whether or not you consider yourself a whiskey aficionado, you are undoubtedly familiar with the famous black label that marks every bottle of Old No. 7 Whiskey! This mellow signature whiskey has been a staple Tennessee production beginning in 1904, though Jack Daniel opened his distillery in 1866.
Despite Jack Daniel’s unexpected passing in 1907, his legacy whiskey remains synonymous with quality and history. It should come as no surprise that we urge you include Jack Daniel’s on your whiskey-tasting expeditions. On your tour, you will learn the history of the distillery, including the disastrous Prohibition Era that crippled this independent industry throughout all of Tennessee, as well as the triumphant return distillers made to the region as soon as the spirit ban ended.
While Jack Daniel’s now boasts an extensive range of offerings handcrafted at locations both in Tennessee and neighboring states, this remains a warm and welcoming destination where you’ll taste flavors both novel and familiar, and visit the legendary Cave Spring as well as the astounding barrel room that is the crowning jewel of the distillery.
Black-owned gem Nearest Green Distillery is synonymous with Tennessee spirits, but even if you’ve taken a tour in years gone by, you must return to experience the full impact of their now-complete $50 million expansion that has transformed and elevated the experience for visitors.
Your tour will encompass masterful storytelling, historic details of walking horse days of old, and heritage distillery methods preserved—though now made with the best modern equipment possible.
Barrel House BBQ II is now open as well, and has garnered rave reviews across the internet. If you want to experience the sandwich voted the #1 Grilled Cheese, be sure to stop by! Alternatively, visit the Humble Baron for elevated plates and the glamorous wrap-around bar.
Since it opened in 2011, Pennington has produced small-batch, premium whiskey, vodka, spiked seltzers, spiked coffee, and sipping cream. On your visit, you will learn about this independent distillery’s operations and spirits, including why their beloved sipping cream (which your weekend or evening coffee has been begging for) was their unexpected first creation. Rest assured that each spirit crafted here is equally unique, intriguing, and delicious, making this distillery one you can’t miss on your Nashville whiskey adventures!
Clearly there are many delightful destinations for anyone who loves spirits, chemistry, history, architecture, community, or just the outdoors! Everywhere you go in Middle Tennessee, there’s a distillery waiting for you.
Where do you think you’ll head to this year? We would love to hear from you in the comments below. Happy touring!