Stretching from East Tennessee to Western North Carolina is the Appalachian subrange of the Great Smoky Mountains. This secluded region is beloved by locals and visitors alike for its hazy blue peaks, ample outdoor adventures, and family-friendly entertainment. Yet, the whiskey, moonshine, and beer are just as intrinsic to the local culture as the mountains themselves. Thanks to their unique natural resources and fascinating history, the Great Smoky Mountains have produced numerous breweries and distilleries whose delicious libations taste unlike any other in the world. These Gatlinburg distilleries and Pigeon Forge breweries should be on every visiting alcohol connoisseur’s must-try list!
Ole Smoky Moonshine & Whiskey Distillery
Between their three locations across Gatlinburg and Pigeon Forge, you’ll have plenty of chances to acquire a taste for Ole Smoky Moonshine & Whiskey Distillery. Moonshine flavors like Butter Pecan, Strawberry, Mountain Java, Shine Nog, and Pumpkin Pie are handcrafted using a recipe that dates back one hundred years. Plus, their whiskey flavors like Root Beer, Bourbon Ball, Salty Watermelon, Cookies & Cream, and Mango Habanero blend beautifully into a variety of cocktails that match the season. As Tennessee’s first legal moonshine distillery, a true liquor aficionado would miss out without a visit to Ole Smoky Moonshine & Whiskey Distillery!
Sugarlands Distilling Company
Mark Rogers, Mark Ramsey, Digger Manes, Steven Tickle and Jim Tom Hedrick aren’t just the master distillers at Sugarlands Distilling Company. These gentlemen comprise today’s generation of moonshining legends – and Appalachian-style distilling is in their blood. At this Gatlinburg distillery, you can take a free tour of the still and then sample a seasonal selection of their award-winning liquors. Make sure you get a good long sip of their signature whiskey, Roaming Man Straight Rye Whiskey, known as “whiskey for the wandering spirit.” Then, take home a bottle or two of your favorite moonshine flavors, like Mark & Digger’s Rye Apple Moonshine, Maple Bacon Moonshine, Mark Rogers American Peach Moonshine, or Tickle’s Dynamite Cinnamon Moonshine.
Junction 35 Spirits
Those with a more eclectic taste in adult beverages will appreciate the wide selection of original spirits at Junction 35 Spirits. In addition to moonshine and rye whiskey, this railroad-themed distillery in Pigeon Forge also produces bourbon, vodka, gin, and rum. Stop by the counter any day of the week for a tasting of flavors like Honey Whiskey, Orange Moonshine, Bam Bam Vodka, Sweet Tea Moonshine, or Black Cherry Whiskey. Come back again tomorrow to see what new flavors are on deck!
Smith Creek Moonshine
Located conveniently at the Tanger Outlets, Smith Creek Moonshine is a must after a long afternoon of shopping. Make yourself at home at their moonshine tasting bar for a free sampling of any of their twelve original moonshines, or enjoy a refreshing moonshine cocktail and chat with your bartender about recipes. At Smith Creek Moonshine, it’s easy to get inspired with white lightnin’ varieties like Lemon Lime, Coffee, Chocolate Silk, Butter Cake and Strawberry Shortcake to use in your cocktail experiments. The distillers of Smith Creek Moonshine are true experts in fusing homemade flavors into a delightfully sippable form.
Old Forge Distillery
The Old Mill has served the townsfolk of Pigeon Forge well as a grist mill since the time it was built in 1830. As the only place for miles where farmers could turn grain into meal and flour, the Old Mill played a significant role in the development of the town. Today, the grist mill is still hard at work using the traditional methods of stone grinding from two centuries ago.
Old Forge Distillery sources its stone-ground grain from the Old Mill and its water from the mountain rivers. You can practically taste the Smoky Mountains themselves in their moonshines, moonshine cherries, cream liqueurs, whiskies, bourbons, rums, gins, and vodkas. Make sure to get yourself one of the four 1830 Original moonshines, and then consider expanding your palate to try shines like Amaretto, Banana Foster, Blackberry, Coconut, Cola, French Toast, Vanilla Bean, and Elderflower.
Smoky Mountain Brewery
If you’re more of a beer drinkin’ kind of guy or gal, look no further than Smoky Mountain Brewery! Wrangle up a handful of your friends to share an order of three to ten 5 oz samples of beers. Your chosen samples should include at least one of each of their six flagship beers, four seasonal brews, or Brewmaster’s specials. Plus, the most popular brewery in the Smokies is always hopping with NFL games on TV, karaoke nights, live music, trivia, and more. Take in the vibrant atmosphere as you chow down on a pizza, burger, sandwich, or steak or chicken entrée. Stop by either Smoky Mountain Brewery location in Pigeon Forge or Gatlinburg for a taste of the local nightlife.
Local Goat is another fun place to hang out, catch the game, and grab a bite to eat. Their American fare is made with all locally and sustainably sourced ingredients. However, the best part is that their beer menu has something for everyone: pilsners, witbiers, stouts, brown ales, lagers – you name it. Plus, Billy’s Bar will give you the full tour of the Southeast’s finest breweries, from Memphis to Asheville and Bristol to Decatur. Don’t forget to try Local Goat’s very own American Light Lager, brewed right here in Pigeon Forge. Local Goat’s selection of canned, bottled, and draught beers is truly unmatched in the Smoky Mountain restaurant scene.
In Conclusion: A Distilled History
In the mid-1700s, the fog-laden blue mountains and lush deciduous forests of the Smokies became home to thousands of Scots-Irish immigrants who were fleeing discrimination in Europe. These individuals brought their culture, music (which later evolved into bluegrass), religion, and whiskey-distilling methods. While European whiskey was usually made from barley, these distillers adapted their practice to the local corn. Once established, the rapidly growing distilling hub of the Smokies could not be stopped, not even by Prohibition or the tax hike that drove shiners to the underground. Today, alcohol production is completely legal, and the centuries-old traditions are kept alive at the unique distilleries and breweries scattered across the Smokies.