As much as I like to brag about the fact that 95% of the world’s bourbon comes from Kentucky, there is one state that is making far more whiskey. That state is Tennessee – Jack Daniel’s Distillery alone makes more whiskey than every Kentucky bourbon producer combined. Although Jack Daniel’s has offered tours for a long time, there was no such thing as the Tennessee Whiskey Trail until just last year. The Trail is divided up into three regions – East, Middle, and West. The style of whiskey made in Tennessee ranges from Tennessee Whiskey, a close relative of bourbon that employs a charcoal filtration technique known as the “Lincoln County Process”, to various forms of unaged whiskey and yes, even bourbon. Now, thanks in part to the popularity of The Kentucky Bourbon Trail, Louisville’s Mint Julep Tours has expanded business into Nashville to ferry whiskey tourists all over the state.
The Nashville Tours
Currently there are only two tour options available on a regular basis, though the great thing about Mint Julep Tours is that you always have the ability to create your own custom tour. The problem with Tennessee distillery tourism, though, is that driving from one side of the state to the other takes around six hours, even with a very direct route, and distilleries are scattered throughout. In Kentucky, major distilleries are basically clustered within an hour of Louisville, though with the emergence of many of the new craft distilleries we will soon be facing the same issue.
All tours depart from the Omni in downtown Nashville. Ticket price starts at $159 per person.
Current tour options include:
Legends: Tennessee Whiskey Adventure – Tour participants will visit Jack Daniel’s, the largest American Whiskey maker, and George Dickel, both makers of exceptional Tennessee whiskey (editor’s note: Congratulations to rock star distiller Nicole Austin on her appointment to General Manager and Distiller of Cascade Hollow, the home of George Dickel whiskey!). These tours leave every Wednesday, Thursday, Friday, Saturday, and Sunday mornings.
Rising Stars: Tennessee Whiskey Adventure – Tour participants will see three Tennessee craft distilleries:
H Clark Distillery – Makers of bourbon, unaged white whiskey, Tennessee gin, and more. Founder Health Clark wanted to make an authentic bourbon style in Tennessee.
Leiper’s Fork Distillery – While their Tennessee Whiskey and their bourbon won’t be available for some time still, they are currently selling a white rye whiskey as well as a Tennessee bourbon procured from elsewhere. This is a family operation that includes a great-granddaughter of W.L. Weller on the team.
Corsair Nashville – Corsair, whose Triple Smoke Whiskey won a gold medal in the 2017 NY International Spirits Competition, has operations both in Kentucky and in Tennessee, and there are two separate facilities in Nashville. At the distillery you can tour and taste products such as quinoa whiskey, Ryemageddon, barrel aged gin, and more.
“Mint Julep Experiences will guide its first Nashville travelers on Tennessee Whiskey Trail adventures next month. After 10 years on the Kentucky Bourbon Trail, our experiential tourism company expanded to Music City to share the heritage and craftsmanship of Tennessee whiskey with tourists and locals alike,” says Mint Julep Tours’ Rachel Goldenberg. If you’re looking for something new after completing the Kentucky Bourbon Trail or if you just want to learn more about Tennessee’s rich whiskey heritage, Mint Julep Tours Nashville has you covered.
Maggie Kimberl is a bourbon writer focusing on bourbon culture and tourism in Louisville and Kentucky. When she's not covering the bourbon beat you can find her browsing through vintage vinyl with her kids or tending to her homegrown tomatoes. Follow her on Twitter https://twitter.com/LouGirl502 Instagram https://www.instagram.com/lougirl502/ and check out her blog LouGirl502.com.