Middle Tennessee has a long history of distilling spirits; both illegal and legal. Plenty of legal choices exist today. In fact, 14 distilleries are within driving distance of Brentwood and are part of the Tennessee Whiskey Trail.
Some enjoy contemplating the differences between whiskey and bourbon. All bourbons are whiskey, but not all whiskeys are bourbon. It sounds more complicated than it is.
Bourbon must be made in the United States, have a minimum of 51 percent corn, be aged in new, charred American white oak barrels, be bottled at no less than 80 proof, with nothing added besides water. Rye and Scotch are also whiskeys, and are made with specific ingredients, giving them their unique taste. Interestingly, new whiskey is clear prior to aging. The distinctive tint of a whiskey, bourbon, rye, and scotch is derived from the aging process.
Grab a carload of whiskey and bourbon enthusiasts and experience how these spirits are made. Chances are, they’ll let you taste them, too!
Leiper’s Fork Distillery
Located in the quaint countryside in Leiper’s Fork, owner and distiller Lee Kennedy is producing small-batch whiskey and using local ingredients, including limestone-filtered water to create their signature taste. Don’t miss their monthly “Still House Sessions,” featuring live music from top singer/songwriters. Call or visit their website for operating hours.
H Clark Distillery
H Clark creates hand-crafted Tennessee bourbon, gin, and black and tan whiskey. Located in Thompson’s Station, they were the first legal distillery in Williamson County in more than a century when they opened in 2014. Their products are made in the same facility where farmers used to store grain. Call or visit their website for operating hours.
A couple of childhood friends tried their hand at creating bio-diesel before deciding that making whiskey was more fun and easier to market. The first distillery in Nashville, Corsair operates two locations in Nashville, with a third in Bowling Green, Kentucky. They pride themselves on using alternative grains and unusual brewing techniques, and have won numerous medals. Their products include whiskeys, gins, absinthe, rum, vodka and brandy. Call for tour information.
Nashville Craft Distillery
Founded by a former DNA scientist, Nashville Craft Distillery opened in the spring of 2016, and focuses on using local and regional ingredients. Their small-batch products include a sorghum spirit, gin, honey liqueur, bourbon and other craft spirits. Tours are offered three days a week.
Nelson’s Green Brier Distillery
Near the heart of Nashville’s entertainment area, brothers Andy and Charlie Nelson are reclaiming family history. Their ancestor, Charles Nelson, arrived in Nashville in the 1850s and entered the grocery and whiskey business. By 1885 the distillery was selling 2 million-plus bottles. Fast forward to 2009, the brothers began recreating the family’s whiskey legacy. Products include whiskey, bourbon and liqueur. Check their website for operating hours and tour details.
This unique brand founded by legendary singer/songwriter Bob Dylan has taken the bourbon world by storm. Heaven’s Door will operate from a former church building — offering a distillery and art center. Besides the distillery, the venue will include a 360-seat music venue and restaurant. Bob's inaugural trilogy of craft whiskey features a straight bourbon, double barrel whiskey, and a straight rye whiskey. A limited-edition, 10-year straight bourbon is also available. Check the website for updates on the distillery opening and related news.
Old Glory Distilling Co.
Located near the Kentucky state line in Clarksville, Tennessee, Old Glory produces bourbon, vodka, gin, rum and moonshine (legally, of course). Although some of their whiskeys and bourbons are still aging and not yet available, this small-batch producer has plenty of other products. They were featured on national news networks in the spring of 2020 for being one of the first distilleries to produce hand sanitizer during the coronavirus pandemic.
Short Mountain Distillery
Not only is Short Mountain a distillery, it’s also a 400-acre working farm and has a restaurant. Located east of Nashville in Woodbury, Tennessee, they produce bourbon, whiskey (including an organic product), rye and various flavors of moonshine. Call for distillery hours. The restaurant features farm-to-table freshness. Call for tour and restaurant information.