2020 has been anything but smooth sailing — but that doesn’t mean that your holiday whiskey can’t be. So pour a glass of one of these Volunteer State-born brown water blends, cue up some Chris Stapleton, and cozy up to the fire for a safer holiday at home.
Considering that Christmas is nearly here and the USPS is in a state of total chaos, it’s a little bit too late to order those last-minute holiday gifts. Fortunately, one great gift option that keeps on giving is whiskey — most especially one that’s distilled right here in Tennesse. Everyone knows the Jack Daniel’s name and story, which of course has its rightful place in Tennessee whiskey history and its ongoing story, but here we shine a light on a few others that’ll wrap up nicely under the tree (or not, for the rest of us in survival mode sans tinsel).
Looking for an experience-based gift for a whiskey lover who lives in Nashville? Track down Nashville's top-secret whiskey society — one of the country’s hottest underground whiskey societies for a tasting of some of their staggering collection, in exchange for a charitable donation.
Instead of getting the whiskey drinker in your life yet another set of whiskey stones that they don’t want, consider one of these Tennessee whiskeys made to impress any level of brown water warriors from small-town Fayetteville or Dickson to Nashville, Memphis, and beyond.
*As an added bonus, they all have options available for curbside pickup or delivery, which means you won’t have to brave the crowds of fellow procrastinators. Have a favorite Tennessee whiskey not listed? Be sure and tag them or email us firstname.lastname@example.org and let us know.
There’s a wide range of spirits in production at Wedgewood-Houston’s Corsair (and even a friendly tasting room cat, upon my last visit) — and whiskey is one of them. Owner Darek Ball began making beer and wine at home in his garage, then furthered his craft at the Bruichladdich Distilling Academy in Islay, Scotland. Corsair has an expansive collection of spirits including classics alongside inventive flavors like quinoa whiskey or vanilla bean flavored vodka. Corsair’s Ryemageddon Whiskey is made of a mash of 80-percent malted rye and 20-percent chocolate rye.
Leiper’s Fork Distillery
With a standout tasting room and gift shop housed in a 200-year-old log cabin in scenic Leiper’s Fork, Lee Kennedy’s distillery takes tradition seriously. More and more Tennessee distillers are getting the esteemed designation of Bottled in Bond products — and Leiper’s Fork’s news Bottled in Bond Tennessee whiskey ($79) is beautifully balanced, made using not only rye, but also toasted malted barley. Caramel and spice make this an easy drinker by the fire or on a heated outdoor patio — ideal for gifting or saving for your personal bar cart.
Nashville Craft Distillery
With a focus on local and regional ingredients, Nashville Craft Distillery was born of a scientist’s mind — with former DNA laboratory director Bruce Boeko opening the distillery in March 2016 in Nashville’s Wedgewood-Houston neighborhood. They produce whiskey, gin, sorghum spirits, and other craft spirits. Curbside pick-up for spirits, cocktail kits, and merch including hand sanitizer is available, as are walk-up purchases, with masks required. Shop.nashvillecraft.com allows online ordering for curbside pick-up at our distillery of their Nashville-made craft spirits, cocktail kits, apparel, hand sanitizer, and even the local Johnson’s Honey we use in our Nashville Honey Spiced Honey Liqueur. eGift cards are also available. With safety measures in place, they are hosting limited tours, led by distillers and including outdoor tastings. They off
Nearest Green Distillery/Uncle Nearest
The Uncle Nearest brand is an all minority-led business, touting one of the world’s most interesting whiskey origin stories alongside a selection of incredible premium-aged Tennessee whiskey (a blend of 8- to 14- year old, an 11-year-old minimum age single barrel, and a 7-year-old small batch offering) all mellowed using the standard-setting Lincoln County process. Uncle Nearest’s 1856 Premium Whiskey is made from all Tennessee local ingredients, handcrafted with care from start to finish, barreled near 110-proof, then bottled at just the right time to optimize flavor and that perfect color.
Nelson’s Green Brier Distillery
The beloved Nelson brothers’ story speaks to their family’s heritage. While whiskey drinkers are sometimes wary of historical legacies and stories, this one has legs, as their great-, great-, great-grandfather Charles Nelson was producing nearly 15 times as much whiskey as Jack Daniel’s was in the 1880s. Giving further street cred, Nelson’s original distillery was shuttered by state Prohibition in 1909 and is now a registered historical site. Flash forward a century, and Andy and Charles began hatching plans to bring their family’s legacy to life in 2006.
Current brown water offerings from Green Brier include Nelson’s Green Brier Tennessee White Whiskey, alongside a range of impressive Belle Meade Bourbons, finished in sherry and madeira casks, among others. Of note, they also have a fixture distillery cat named Sugar Maple, plus a tasting room in Marathon Village — a great spot for a socially distanced tour or tasting or last-minute gift buying.
Ole Smoky Distillery
The East Tennessee-based distillery might be most popular for its moonshine, but they’ve also got a lineup of 17 different flavors of whiskey — all available for tasting and purchasing right here in Nashville at its 6th & Peabody indoor and outdoor tasting room and bar. Some of the most popular flavored whiskeys include salty caramel or peanut butter whiskey. The smooth, peanut butter whiskey is award-winning, winning at least ten international awards in its first year of distribution — it’s currently available in multiple locations nationwide. Many of Ole Smoky’s products are made from a 100-year-old family recipe with roots in, yes, the Smoky Mountains, including a rainbow of over 25 approachable moonshines from original corn to apple pie, blackberry, a moonshine/egg nog mash-up, and even moonshine pickles.
Standard Proof Whiskey Co.
Truly born behind the bar in Nashville, Standard Proof Whiskey Co. offers an imaginative lineup of Creative Director Robert Longhurst’s craft-infused rye whiskey that was originally created as a well-kept secret, shared only among fellow bartenders and regular patrons. Aged in new American oak barrels and bottled at 80-proof, the whiskey is infused with the finest natural ingredients. Standard Proof’s first signature whiskey infusion was a coffee expression called Red Eye Rye – it launched in 2017 and catapulted the brand as a leader in this new beverage category. The Red Eye Rye is coffee-infused, while others are infused with honeysuckle, fresh mint, pineapple, and Texas pecans. The Red Eye Rye that launched it all starts as a 95-percent rye-based Southern American whiskey, which is aged for 12 to 18 months in new American oak barrels. They then infuse it with ground coffee beans for around 10 to 12 weeks before bottling. It results in an 80-proof rye that drinks like an aperitif on its own or as a solid addition to cocktails.
They also just opened their first-ever tasting room and retail space, where guests can sip whiskey flights or cocktails like an espresso martini made with the infused whiskeys. Merchandise for purchase includes, of course, the whiskeys, which are all bottled on-site. They also sell cocktail kits, ice cube molds, bandanas, plus an exclusive Red Eye Rye expression that’s aged in Arrington Vineyards wine barrels. Also available at the Tasting Room is Standard Proof’s “Support Your Local Bartender” t-shirt. Profits from each shirt sold are donated to Nashville’s United States Bartenders’ Guild (USBG) chapter to support local hospitality workers, and out-of-town visitors can share their own zip code as well, sending donations to a chapter local to their home.
Sweetens Cove Bourbon Whiskey
A football player, a tennis player, a musician, real estate developers, and a sports announcer (nope, this isn’t the start of a joke) joined forces when they all became co-owners of Sweetens Cove, a darling of a nine-hole golf course in South Pittsburg, Tennessee. Yep, Peyton Manning, Andy Roddick, and Jim Nance took the reins for the golf course — one with a longstanding tradition of offering a complimentary shot of whiskey on its first hole, since the golf club had no clubhouse. The trio took the tradition next level by bringing on acclaimed master blender Marianne Eaves, who will forever hold a place in history as Kentucky’s First Female Bourbon Master Distiller since Prohibition, to blend their very own namesake Sweetens Cove Tennessee bourbon whiskey. They purchased 100 barrels of 13-year-old Tennessee bourbon and the rest is new whiskey history. Its first limited release back in May sold out in two minutes. Needless to say, Eaves’ new Sweeten Cove hand blended batches are newly award-winning and receiving praise from whiskey aficionados throughout the US. And just for Tennessee residents (mostly in the Nashville area), there’s a new limited release “foursome” for December and January only. Each of the batches in uniquely crafted, and all come with a different proof. Batch 4 is 102.8 proof with clean, sweet caramel and butterscotch notes on the nose, with warm spice on palate, followed by pepper and later, mid-palate, and a warm oaky finish that lingers.