• Jenny

Adventures on the Tennessee Whiskey Trail

Updated: Mar 4, 2021


On a trip home from Chattanooga to Memphis, my boyfriend and I made the decision to take a short detour and check out the George Dickel distillery in Cascade Hollow. He was already a whiskey lover and was pretty pumped to add to his extensive liquor collection. But me, I was a different story. What exactly was Whiskey neat, and was it good or bad if it burned on the way down?

So wanting to be the cool girlfriend, I figured I could choke down a few whiskey samples and fake my way through. After a VERY cool tour, we sat down at the tasting bar and I said a little prayer that I wouldn’t actually choke when I drank the first sample. Everyone else looked so calm and collected, I was obviously the only first-timer there. I swirled, and smelled, and sipped, let the spirit roll down my tongue so I could taste the front AND the back. And just like that, I was hooked on Tennessee Whiskey.

Over the next 12 months, we made it our mission to visit all 27 distilleries on the Tennessee Whiskey Trail (and a few that weren't). We knew we would have a blast taking weekend road trips and tasting whiskey. What we didn't know was how many really cool places we would get to visit along the way. Throw in a free t-shirt? SOLD!

Here's how you too can master the Tennessee Whiskey Trail in 8 easy road trips.

Memphis: A Food Lover's Paradise

Old Dominick may be the only distillery in West Tennessee, but Memphis has so much else to offer that a weekend spent here is more than worth the trip. Popular sightseeing options include Graceland, the National Civil Rights Museum, the Peabody Hotel with its famous marching ducks, Sun Studios, the Mud Island Riverwalk, and the Pyramid, which now houses a massive Bass Pro Shop and wilderness inspired hotel.

Old Dominick Distillery, Downtown Memphis

Old Dominick Distillery is located downtown, with lots of options for great food and nightlife nearby. Wander along the cobblestoned Main Street, take the trolley down to the South Main Arts District, or check out the party on Beale Street. If you want a quieter scene, you may want to opt for the Cooper Young area, Overton Square, or the Broad Avenue Arts District.

Memphis may be famous for Elvis Presley and the Blues, but the food scene here is something that should NOT be missed. Some well known places that have been featured on TV are The Rendezvous, Central Barbecue, Gus’s Fried Chicken, Uncle Lou's Chicken, and Dyer's Burgers. Here are a few of my picks. Cocktails: Belle Tavern or The Cove. Downtown dive bars: Ernestine and Hazels, the Green Beetle, or Bardog Tavern. Dessert: Cheesecake Corner, Muddy’s Cupcakes, Gibson’s Donuts, or Jerry’s Snowcones. Upscale restaurants worth the price: Flight, Restaurant Iris, or Southern Social. Greasy spoons: Blues City Cafe, Elwood’s Shack, or the Arcade. Pizza: Memphis Pizza Cafe or Aldo's Pizza Pies. Brunch: Cafe Eclectic, The Beauty Shop, Brother Junipers, or The Liquor Store. Breweries: too many to mention, but my favorites are Wiseacre and High Cotton.

Mississippi River Bridge, Downtown Memphis

I would recommend staying downtown when you come to Memphis. Most of the places mentioned above are either around the downtown area or within a 10 - 15 minute drive. Staying downtown makes it easy to visit Old Dominick because you can walk, rent a scooter, or take a short Uber ride. There are even golf cart shuttles if you can find one! You may come to Memphis to add a stamp to your whiskey trail passport, but it will leave you with a special place in your heart.

Nashville and the Surrounding Areas

There’s more to Nashville than just country music. You can spend a full 3 day weekend here and it will still leave you wanting more. For country music lovers, there is the Grand Ole Opry and Ryman Auditorium, as well as Music Row, the Country Music Hall of Fame, and famous landmarks such as RCA Studio B. There are also countless small music venues like Mercy Lounge, the Bluebird Cafe and Marathon Music Works, where you will find talented aspiring musicians looking to make a name for themselves. Other fun sightseeing options include Nashville's version of the Parthenon, Andrew Jackson's former home the Hermitage, Belle Meade Plantation, or the Belmont Mansion.

Now let’s get down to business. There are 3 official whiskey trail distilleries in Nashville proper, and 4 other outliers. You can make it to all of them in one weekend if you’re really ambitious; however, I would recommend breaking them up into two weekends for a more relaxing and enjoyable time.

Within Nashville’s city limits you have Nashville Craft Distillery, Nelson’s Greenbrier Distillery, and Corsair Distillery, which has two locations. Pennington Distillery is also in Nashville and worth a visit, but it's no longer listed on the Whiskey Trail app. Here's a suggested 3 day itinerary for Nashville distilleries.

Corsair Distillery on Clinton Street, Nashville

Arrive in Nashville Friday afternoon and visit Nashville Craft Distillery and Pennington Distilling, then eat dinner. After dinner, head over to the Corsair Distillery on Merritt Avenue for a tour, tasting, or cocktail class.

To top off the night, visit Diskin Cidery, which is right down the street. If you’ve never tried craft cider, this place will make you a fan. In addition to the variety of ciders made on site, they have board games, patio games, an outdoor fire pit, and sometimes live music or a DJ. They also have delicious cocktails and a late night menu.

Nelson's Green Brier Distillery, Nashville

Saturday morning, grab some breakfast and do some sightseeing, then make your way to Nelson’s Green Brier and Corsair Distillery on Clinton Street. These are both inside the old Marathon Motor Works factory, along with quite a few souvenir and boutique style shops. You can easily spend several hours here wandering in and out of the shops in between whiskey tastings. Nelson's Greenbrier has a REALLY cool story and a nice tour that you can reserve in advance. The Corsair location here also has tours, as well as a cocktail bar and taproom. Now your evening is free to eat dinner and find a local music venue. Many restaurants and music venues in Nashville require reservations, so check into this ahead of time.

Sunday morning, gear up for some of the best brunch around. You really can't go wrong here. A few of my favorites are Pancake Pantry, the Loveless Cafe, and Yeast Nashville. Other suggestions can be found on Nashville Guru, which is a a great online resource for all things Nashville.

Old Glory Distilling, Clarksville

Depending on how far your drive is and what direction you're headed, you should try to visit Old Glory Distilling before heading home. Old Glory is in Clarksville, about 45 minutes north of Nashville.

If you're feeling really adventurous, you may even be able to squeeze in the Kentucky/Tennessee State Line Whiskey Tour. This is a fun offshoot of the Tennessee trail, and combines Old Glory with two distilleries just over the Kentucky border: Casey Jones Distillery and MB Roland Distillery. You even get a free gift after you've visited all three! Check the State Line Whiskey Tour website for more information.

Leiper's Fork Distillery, Franklin