Moonshine and its production have long been synonymous with the Smoky Mountains regions. Even with a somewhat shady past, its allure has fascinated both locals and visitors alike since the settlement of the Appalachian woods.
Moonshine’s History and Process
The word “moonshine” conjures up images of mountain dwellers cooking up their own spirits. They would then consume it themselves to avoid alcohol sales taxation and get around bans, often also selling it to make a living. Now that public sales of the drink are officially legal, surprisingly recently since 2009, moonshine tours have become a popular attraction in the Smoky Mountains area. Today, you’ll find producers in Gatlinburg and nearby Asheville proudly retelling the story of these enterprising locals both past and present.
Fermenting and distilling four simple ingredients – cornmeal, yeast, sugar and water – through a critically timed procedure makes moonshine. The resulting clear liquor is essentially whiskey that hasn’t aged or mellowed yet, so you may want to prepare yourself for the kick that comes with it. You’ll also find that newer creations include fruits and other ingredients for variety.
The best places to visit and learn about this colorful part of Appalachian lore are moonshine distilleries right here in Gatlinburg. Each one offers a different but enjoyable experience of the moonshine process and history, but you can’t go wrong with stopping by any of them.
Smoky Mountain Moonshine Tours and Tastings near Gatlinburg
Ole Smoky Moonshine Distillery
Perhaps the most popular and widely known moonshine distillery, “The Holler” became the first business to sell the liquor in 2010. Their main production and touring facility is in Gatlinburg, with a new outpost in Pigeon Forge. Along with their free signature tour, Ole Smoky also hosts live summer concerts on their grounds and sponsors other local events. You’ll also find the largest selection of moonshine flavors of varying alcohol proof levels (40 to 100) for drinking. You might want to try some of their new flavors including pumpkin pie and big orange. Don’t forget to take home your own Ole Smoky moonshine mason jar, too.
Sugarlands Distilling Company
Just up the road from Ole Smoky in downtown Gatlinburg, Sugarlands Distillery has a centerpiece barn-house repurposed from old East Tennessee structures. You can take this Smoky Mountains moonshine tour for free and enjoy concerts on its Back Porch pavilion in the evening. The moonshine selection has nine varieties; you will definitely enjoy tasting them. Sample some of the Legends series, named after local moonshiners and created with distinctive flavors.
Old Forge Distillery
Located in Pigeon Forge and a short drive from Gatlinburg, Old Forge Distillery is a great place to visit. You can taste the three varieties of the “1830 Original” – unaged corn, distiller’s blend and miller’s blend, each with a different combination of ingredients. Depending on the season, the distillery also makes flavored Smoky Mountain moonshine, from peach to French toast and chocolate.
Doc Collier Distillery
The smallest of the Gatlinburg “shine shops” listed here also offers tastings at present. But as the moonshiner Doc Collier said himself, “simple is best”…and that’s what you’ll find at this distillery. Free samples of five standard varieties as well as seasonal flavors are available. Doc Colliers is also known for its moonshine brandy, so make sure you try it.
So are you ready to try some ‘shine and experience a Smoky Mountain moonshine tour and tasting in Gatlinburg? It’s just one of the enjoyable things to do when you stay at our Smoky Mountain resort. Why not experience a part of Appalachian history and experience a romantic Smoky Mountains getaway.