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Lifting Spirits

Big Machine Goes Platinum Once Again with Big Hits from Tenn South Distillery

Article by William Harwood

Photography by Ali Miller

Originally published in Brentwood Lifestyle

In the beginning, there was the water, naturally filtered and mineral-rich, a gift of the limestone formations of Lynville, Tennessee. Master distiller Clay Cutler chose this place to set up shop, creating Tenn South Distillery and crafting world-class spirits second to none: All Mighty Shine 140, Abernathy New American Gin and the award-winning Clayton James Tennessee Whiskey.  

But talent attracts talent, and music mogul Scott Borchetta, the founder of Big Machine Records, soon wanted in. In 2015, he acquired Tenn South Distillery and invited his brother, Mark, a Los Angeles movie producer with his own advertising agency, to oversee operations. It was a good call. The Borchetta brothers’ entrepreneurial acumen, mixed with Clay’s supreme artisanship, has proved a potent cocktail for success, resulting in phenomenal growth.   

A big driver of that success was the introduction of a sister spirit to the ones Tenn South was already making: Big Machine Platinum Filtered Premium Vodka. Distilled 25 times—four to five times more than typical vodkas—and then trickled three times through a proprietary, platinum bead filtration system (the only one of its kind in the world), some argue that Big Machine Vodka is the purest, smoothest, cleanest-finishing vodka available on the planet. 

To test this proposition, one could do no better than to round up some friends and pay a visit to one of Big Machine’s two local tasting rooms. Big Machine Store and Tenn South Distillery are located in the heart of downtown, a venue with live music, karaoke and a working distillery, allowing guests the opportunity to bottle their own Big Machine Vodka or Single Barrel Clayton James Tennessee Whiskey straight from the barrel.

If it's not a full bottle desired, all the Tenn South Distillery spirits are available by the shot or in mixed cocktails, including their "Soon-to-Be World-Famous Frozen Vodka Lemonade Slushies." Tasting tours are available, at 45 minutes each, that include four samples and a mini cocktail, a value at only $15 and cheaper than downtown parking.    

Big Machine's second tasting room is even more convenient to Brentwood. It's located in Berry Hill, with the same world-class spirits at their downtown location along with great food and live music.  

Big Machine spirits are available in several locations on lower Broadway, as well as many liquor stores, bars and restaurants throughout Tennessee. For a complete listing of locations to drink Big Machine spirits or purchase bottles, visit the site.

Fun Facts:

  • Big Machine Vodka sponsors IndyCar and NASCAR and racecar drivers Kyle Bush, Josef Newgarden and Tony Kanaan.  
  • Number of Big Machine Distillery employees in 2017: 6; Number today: 40 
  • Approximate percentage by which Big Machine Distillery has increased product sales since Mark Borchetta came on board in 2017: 1,000%
  • Factor by which Big Machine Distillery is currently growing per year: 2x


2009: Tennessee enacts legislation to legalize distilleries in 41 counties, opening the door for the creation of the Tenn South Distillery. 

2012: Tenn South Distillery purchases an idyllic 28 acres in Giles County near Lynnville. With its water naturally filtered through limestone formations, the location is ideal for the production of world-class spirits. 

2013: Tenn South Distillery distills and barrels first spirits, leaving the Clayton James Tennessee Whiskey to age in the barrels, but bringing to market their unaged All Mighty Shine 140, a 50% corn, 50% cane moonshine.  

2014: Tenn South Distillery develops Abernathy New American Gin.

2016: Tenn South Distillery joins Big Machine, becoming Big Machine Distillery.  

2018: Big Machine Store and Distillery opens on Third Avenue S, becoming a highly popular destination as the place to enjoy Big Machine Vodka Frozen Lemonade.

2019: Big Machine Distillery and Tavern opens in Berry Hill.