The Essential Tennessee Distilleries Near Nashville
From George Dickel to Jack Daniel’s and beyond, these are the best spots to see how the local liquor you love is made near Nashville.
Kentucky may have more barrels of whiskey barrels aging in warehouses than they have people, but Tennessee has nothing to be ashamed of. The Tennessee Whiskey Trail is a great guide to distilleries to visit across the state, but if you want to stay a little closer to Nashville, here’s a list of spirits pros who are doing some remarkable things with grain, water, and yeast.
While there aren’t any actual stills at Nashville Barrel Company’s facility, that doesn’t mean that they aren’t integral in the process of creating their spectacular spirits. Their talented team selects exceptional barrels from various distillers and further ages them, blends batches and bottles unique products that consumers can buy from their bottle shop or in liquor stores across the country. Visitors can sample various products or even choose from individual casks to take home a souvenir that simply can’t be found anywhere else.
Tennessee Legend has facilities across the state where they offer a wide variety of flavored moonshines, whiskeys, and other spirits. A trip to their Marathon Village tasting room is a fun distraction where trained spirits guides will share the history of the former automobile factory and the story of Tennessee moonshine. They also offer free tastings of their products and a peek through a window at their production process. You can also pick up a few bottles to take home as a memento.
Distance from Nashville: 45 minutes
Named for a notable Civil War battle fought in the area, Wheeler’s Raid specializes in premium bourbons and ryes that they select, finish in new barrels and blend to create brand-new spirits. Their facility also features an excellent live music venue where guests can sip on crafty cocktails and enjoy performances through a state-of-the-art sound system every Friday and Saturday night. They also offer public tastings and tours Tuesday through Sunday.
Southern Collective Spirit Co. is another company that leverages their talents at picking single barrels produced by larger distilleries into a unique experience where visitors can taste various samples and select their own blend. Purchasers can even design the label that goes on the bottle they take home to share with friends and brag about. Starting out with outstanding products to choose from, it’s hard to mess them up.
Distance from Nashville: 1 hour
This veteran-owned distillery started out with an emphasis on flavored moonshines but has lately released some impressive bourbons and a rye whiskey. Of course, you can certainly taste your way through a flight of exotic flavors of moonshine ranging from blueberry and apple pie to elderberry and jalapeño-lemon. The atmosphere at the distillery gets even more festive on weekends when they feature live music along with a menu of cocktails and pub grub.
Wedgewood Houston and Marathon Village
South of the city’s downtown, this trendy neighborhood houses a craft distillery started by two childhood friends who first started brewing beer and wine in their garage. The first Nashville craft distillery in more than a half century, Corsair is now making a name for itself winning more than 450 medals in national and international spirit competitions offering everything from gin to rye whiskey and a novel triple-smoked American single malt. You can even learn how to whip up a cocktail of your own at one of the monthly cocktail creation sessions after partaking in one of the many afternoon distillery tours.
Distance from Nashville: 32 minutes
Formerly known as H Clark Distilling after founder Heath Clark, an attorney who advocated for legislation allowing distilling in Williamson County, TN in 2009 for the first time since pre-Prohibition, Company Distilling changed its name in 2020 after bringing on new investors and the former master distiller for Jack Daniels, Jeff Arnett. This new dream team developed a novel whiskey aged in oak barrels and finished with maple wood and plans to open a second location with a restaurant and tasting room soon in Townsend, Tennessee. Tours are offered daily at the Thompson’s Station facility from noon to 5 pm.
Trading mainly in flavored moonshines, Ole Smoky is a destination distillery/brewery in SoBro just a few blocks from Nashville’s happening Lower Broad party district. In addition to the massive gift shop and tasting room, Ole Smoky’s 6th & Peabody complex features an outdoor area with yard games and massive screens for watching sports. Most visitors go home with at least a jar or two of ‘shine, but don’t miss out on their line of flavored whiskeys if that’s your sort of thing.
SoBro and Berry Hill
The former Tenn South Distillery changed its name and focus after being purchased by the music mogul behind Big Machine Records. Along with the original production facility in Lynnville, TN, two new tasting rooms in Nashville feature platinum-filtered premium vodka plus spiked coolers, drink mixers, and cocktail kits. While the ancient distilleries of Scotland probably aren’t quaking in their kilts over the competition, Big Machine does a good job staying in their lane and providing a good time.
This rye-focused spirits company was started by a bartender who discovered how delicious a blend of coffee and rye is by serving it after hours to his friends. Standard Proof’s product line has expanded to include additional rye infusions ranging from pecan to ginger to mint, along with a couple of aged straight rye whiskeys as well. The downtown tasting room is open seven days a week with live music on Wednesday nights and two cocktail classes a day from Tuesday through Sunday.
Distance from Nashville: 1 hour 15 minutes
This small-batch distillery was best known for its authentic moonshine when it opened using recipes handed down from “retired amateur distillers” in the area. They’ve since added a few whiskeys to their repertoire, including the first Tennessee whiskey made using 100% organic grains and malts. If you’re so inclined, you can even take a private mixology class for groups on location to learn from the experts.
Distance from Nashville: 1 hour 11 minutes
Nestled in the beautiful scenery of rural Tennessee, this distillery was established as Cascade Hollow Distillery by Nashville merchant George Dickel back in 1878 and remains one of the oldest distilleries in Tennessee. Now the brand offers a wide range of traditional hearty whiskys including various ages of Tennessee whisky, a charcoal-mellowed rye and periodic special small batch releases under the Cascade Moon brand. Feel free to stock up on funky souvenirs at the gift shop that mimics an old-school country general store, after enjoying the one-hour tour offered daily. Whatever you do, just don't argue that they should spell Dickel whisky with an "e"—despite producing American hooch, the company prefers the Scottish traditional spelling.
Distance from Nashville: 40 minutes
Leiper’s Fork whiskey is a nod to the way frontier American settlers made whiskey, and their impressive versions of bourbon, Tennessee whiskey and rye benefit from years in oak barrels. Housed in a barn fashioned from a 200-year-old cabin, this distillery brings historical tradition to this prominent Nashville suburb. You can take in the whole thing on a comprehensive tour for just $18.
Started by forensic scientist Bruce Boeko, this distillery housed in a modern building in Nashville’s burgeoning We-Ho neighborhood is still relatively new to the scene, but it’s already gaining notoriety for its range of spirits. In addition to a nice young bourbon and an aromatic gin, Nashville Craft produces innovative spirits from honey and sorghum.
Founded by German immigrant merchant Charles Nelson and later taken over by his wife Louisa, Nelson’s Green Brier Distillery’s tradition is now carried on by his two great-great-great-grandsons, Charlie and Andy. The distillery now boasts whiskeys and bourbons inspired by the pre-Prohibition method made famous by their ancestors, including a coffee-caramel-pecan liqueur named after Louisa, two bourbons, and a Tennessee whiskey. Daily distillery tours and tastings sell out early, so make reservations in advance.
Distance from Nashville: 1 hour 30 minutes
Probably one of the most recognizable brands of whiskey in the world, every drop of Jack Daniels is produced and shipped from the tiny town of Lynchburg, deep in the hollers of South Central Tennessee. Founded in 1866 by businessman Jack Daniel, who learned how to distill from a local preacher and an enslaved man named Nearest Green. The distillery offers several themed tours including a tasting tour, a motor tour, and one accompanied by a traditional Southern meal at Miss Mary Bobo’s boarding house nearby just off the town square. Its charcoal mellowed Old. No. 7 is a staple in most bars around the country, but the distillery is also known for Gentleman Jack, an incredibly smooth golden whiskey.
Located in the quickly developing Nations neighborhood of West Nashville, this distillery is best known for its line of premium whiskeys under the Davidson Reserve label and the popular Pickers Vodka. They also offer a delectable American version of Irish Cream with Whisper Creek Tennessee Sipping Cream, made with aged whiskey blended with 30 all-natural flavors and dairy cream. You can also partake in all of them on their tasting tours.
Distance from Nashville: 1 hour
Patience is the watchword at Old Glory, where distillers waited five years before releasing their first small-batch Tennessee whiskey made using locally-grown grains. While they waited, they did release some whiskey from small barrels, which age faster than traditional casks, plus a vodka, a gin, a white rum, and some flavored moonshines, so they’ve got a pretty robust portfolio of products at Old Glory now. Drop by any day of the week for a tour or to visit the cocktail bar, and you’ll have the chance to sample the whole range.
Distance from Nashville: 1 hour 30 minutes
The Prichard family has 200 years of distilling history in Tennessee, including some when it wasn’t actually legal. But when the opportunity came to open the first new distillery in the state since the repeal of Prohibition, Phil Prichard went to work reviving his family’s legacy, opening the Kelso facility in an old converted schoolhouse in 1997. Early on, Prichard’s line of rums drew most of the attention and garnered awards in many competitions, but now the line has expanded to include whiskeys, vodka, liqueurs, brandy, and moonshine. The distillery doesn’t schedule organized tours, but just drop by whenever they’re open Monday - Saturday, and someone will probably be happy to show you around.
Distance from Nashville: 1 hour
Nathan “Nearest” Green’s role in helping to develop Tennessee whiskey as the teacher of a young Jack Daniel was almost lost to history, despite the fact that Green’s descendants have worked continuously at Jack’s distillery for generations. Entrepreneur Fawn Hall found out about the story and decided to revive the legacy with a new distillery named after Nearest. Their massive distillery campus in Shelbyville tells a lot of the hidden history of distilling, and their impending new Humble Baron restaurant, bar and entertainment venue boasts the longest bar in the world at 525 feet in length.
Chris Chamberlain is a food, drink, and travel writer. If Nashville was the Love Boat, he’d like to think he’d be Julie, your cruise director. In truth, he’s probably more of a Gopher. Join him on the Lido Deck on Twitter @CeeElCee.