No trip to Gatlinburg or Pigeon Forge, TN is complete without sampling some of the area’s signature moonshine! For hundreds of years, Smoky Mountain locals have drawn upon their Scotch-Irish roots and distilled corn whiskey. Historically, this Celtic tradition was an illicit activity for some distillers who refused to pay the government’s whiskey tax. In order to avoid the long arm of the law, these men would venture into the mountains under the cover of darkness to make their liquor. The resulting whiskey was known as “moonshine” because it was distilled by the light of the moon.
In 2009, the Tennessee whiskey world changed forever when a new law allowed legal moonshine to be produced in the state. Since then, a number of incredible distilleries have opened in Gatlinburg and Pigeon Forge. These hugely popular distilleries attract millions of visitors each year with their fun tastings, which showcase unique moonshine flavors like apple pie, root beer float, and vanilla bean.
At most of the distilleries in town, moonshine tastings cost $5 per person. In exchange for this fee, participants receive a $5 coupon that can be applied to any purchase made in the distillery’s gift shop. To help you make the most of your next vacation, Hearthside Cabin Rentals has put together a guide to six awesome distilleries in Gatlinburg and Pigeon Forge.
Ole Smoky Moonshine is the most famous distilling company in East Tennessee. With three locations in Sevier County, vacationers will never be far from Ole Smoky’s legendary whiskey. For the full Ole Smoky experience, we recommend visiting their flagship distillery in downtown Gatlinburg. Known as “The Holler”, this tourist mecca is the most visited distillery in America! Guests will have the chance to participate in tastings and learn all about the moonshine making process. The distillery also regularly hosts live music from local bluegrass musicians and touring bands.
Located a 4-minute walk away from The Holler, visitors to the downtown Parkway will find the Ole Smoky Barrelhouse. This location specializes in aged whiskey, which is kept in white oak barrels for four years. Stopping by both The Holler and the Barrelhouse is a great way to learn about the differences between unaged moonshine and aged whiskey.
In addition to its Gatlinburg locations, Ole Smoky also boasts a great distillery at The Island in Pigeon Forge. Commonly referred to as “The Barn”, this 6,000 square foot shop is a fun place to hang out, try some moonshine, or listen to free bluegrass music.
Sugarlands Distilling Co. is another can’t-miss stop in downtown Gatlinburg. This fantastic distillery collaborates with the stars of the Discovery Channel show Moonshine Legends to bring their time-tested recipes to the masses. For visitors who are fascinated by the art of distilling, Sugarlands offers a variety of paid tours that come with mixology lessons and special hands-on experiences. Be sure to stick around and enjoy some of the free live entertainment that comes to the distillery as part of Sugarlands’ concert series.
Doc Collier Moonshine is named after a local distiller who developed a loyal following for his corn whiskey recipe many decades ago. The modern day distillery in downtown Gatlinburg carries on the spirit of Doc with an old-fashioned mercantile appearance. Doc Collier Moonshine is unique in that it offers both standard tastings and premium tastings that come with a free shot glass. It’s easy to see why Doc’s is one of the most popular distilleries in Gatlinburg!
Located next to The Old Mill in Pigeon Forge, Old Forge Distillery is steeped in history. Named after the iron forge that once stood beside the iconic grist mill, this distillery uses The Old Mill to grind its grains. Old Forge Distillery produces moonshine, bourbon, rum, vodka, and cream liqueur. The distillery’s 1830 Original moonshine has won numerous awards from organizations around the U.S. Unlike the other distilleries on this list, Old Forge Distillery offers tastings that are completely free.
Where to Stay in Gatlinburg and Pigeon Forge
When you stay with Hearthside Cabin Rentals, you will be minutes away from all of these excellent distilleries in Gatlinburg and Pigeon Forge. With everything from 1 bedroom cabins to 18 bedroom cabins, we are sure to have the perfect property for your escape. To start planning your getaway, browse our selection of cabins in Gatlinburg and Pigeon Forge!