Tennessee, a land steeped in rich tradition and craftsmanship, is a revered name in the world of whiskey. Known for its distinctive charcoal mellowing process, Tennessee whiskey offers a smooth, full-bodied flavor profile, making it a cherished choice among aficionados.
The Volunteer State is home to a myriad of distilleries, each with its unique heritage, meticulous production methods, and flavor nuances. In this post, we will traverse the scenic landscapes of Tennessee, unveiling the best whiskey brands that encapsulate the essence of this renowned whiskey-producing region.
Whether you have a penchant for the classics or a desire to explore hidden gems, this guide will serve as your compass through the diverse and vibrant world of Tennessee whiskey. So, ready your palate and join us as we delve into the spirited legacy and innovative charm of Tennessee’s finest whiskey brands.
Chattanooga Whiskey 111 blends its signature grain mash to create a distinct flavor of rich cherry with a malt finish. Distillers use malted rye, caramel malted barley, and honey malted barley in this whiskey. This warming spirit is technically a bourbon whiskey, but it still ranks among the top-tier Tennessee liquors.
One of the best-looking liquors, Uncle Nearest 1856 Premium Whiskey, has a golden coppery hue. The nose of this whiskey smells of dried grasses with hints of sweet fruit. These fruit tones are also present on the palate, pairing with a touch of spice in the spirit. Uncle Nearest finishes with a robust flavor profile that fades sweetly on the tongue.
Made with a family recipe since 1909, Nelson’s Green Brier Tennessee Whiskey adds wheat and malted barley to the traditional corn in their grain mash. The simple combination creates a complex nose of caramel and vanilla. Robust flavors make up the spirit for a whiskey with notes of brown sugar and cinnamon rolls.
One of the most widely available examples of the best Tennessee whiskey the state offers, many are familiar with this brand. Jack Daniel’s Old No.7 Tennessee Whiskey uses a sour mash while creating its spirit. Though the mash may be sour, the resulting liquor tastes sweet and oaky from the handmade barrels where they aged.
By the time Heaven’s Door Double Barrel Whiskey hits shelves, it's already been aged for at least six years. The resulting whiskey has a darker amber tone than other lighter whiskeys. Tasting notes from this spirit enhance during the aging process creating complex notes of gingerbread, toasted grains, and persimmons.
Corn makes up more than 80% of the grain mash of this next whiskey that also uses rye and malted barley in its blend. George Dickel Barrel Select ages for over nine years before being released for consumption. This small-batch spirit has a rich flavor with notes of vanilla and spice with a smooth finish.
Corsair Triple Smoke Whiskey is a Nashville-produced spirit. The company got its name from the process their spirits go through to create this whiskey's smokey and richly sweet taste. Each of their malts is smoked individually with one of three kinds of wood from around the world. If you love scotch, you’ll love this robustly flavored whiskey.
Another example from the iconic brand, Jack Daniel’s Tennessee Straight Rye Whiskey, uses rye to set this spirit apart. Rye creates a more spicy liquor than other grains. This Tennessee whiskey’s complex flavor balances with the smoothness from the charcoal mellowing process used to filter the whiskey for a satisfying mouthfeel.
With famous founders including Peyton Manning and Andy Roddick, it’d be easy to write off Sweetens Cove Tennessee Bourbon Whiskey as another celebrity liquor, but that’s not the case. This spirit blends three bourbons, one aged 16 years, to create an award-winning whiskey with spicy fruit flavor and toffee undertones.
Prichard’s Tennessee Whiskey uses the same process as distillers in the Civil War Era, putting white corn in the mash and distilling it in small pots. The resulting liquor is smooth with notes of caramel and ginger. The ten-year-aged spirit is an excellent option for mixing complex-tasting cocktails or drinking neat.
This whiskey is a George Dickel brand made to celebrate 150 years of the product. These special edition whiskeys showcase a mix of contemporary and traditional, creating a remarkably mellow spirit. Cascade Moon Edition 2 is a blended batch aged 17 years with notes of oak and vanilla with one of the smoothest finishes.
Sugarlands Distilling Co. produces Roaming Man Tennessee Straight Rye Whiskey. Rye heavy grain blends bring complexity and spiciness, noticeable in this spirit that showcases peppery notes with hints of tobacco and vanilla. A bold whiskey with a dark amber color, Roaming Man is one of my favorites to enjoy simply on the rocks.
Another example of an awarding-winning spirit, Rollins Tennessee Whiskey distills a golden whiskey with tones of exciting flavor profiles. The smooth and balanced whiskey has aggressive spice tones of cinnamon and clove but at a much sweeter nose. You’ll smell hints of dried herbs and sugar while enjoying this Tennessee Whiskey.
A spirit utilizing white corn, Clayton James Tennessee blends its grain mash not only with corn but also barley and wheat. The resulting whiskey is subtle, with hints of smoke. The slight smokiness pairs perfectly with the other fruit tones present in the spirit, like pear, apple, and apricot.
Davidson Reserve Tennessee Small Batch Whiskey ages for four years before being presented to consumers. The aging process creates rich and complexly sweet flavors in spirit with a few hints of spice from the rye-forward grain blend. You’ll taste sweet toasty graham crackers with fresh fruit on the palate.
Another example of a bourbon, Bib & Tucker Small Batch Bourbon, has a sweet and spicy flavor profile. Vanilla and sandalwood give this spirit an attractive nose and follow through with a balanced-tasting liquor with subtle notes similar to pecan pie. The lingering chestnut taste creates an excellent finish to this bourbon.
From lightly aged liquors with pleasantly sweet notes to dark, complex spirits with woody flavors, there’s a whiskey on this list for everyone. These are my favorite examples of the best Tennessee whiskey to drink and share with friends.
Did we miss one of your favorites? Tell us your favorites in the comments below, and we’ll give it a try!