The Smoky Mountains are rife with tales of homemade sprites and deep-woods moonshine makers, but you don’t have to go traipsing on unknown trailers to find the region’s best distilleries. The following five legal distilleries are some of the best spirit makers in Pigeon Forge, and you can visit anytime they’re open for tours and tastings — no secret password required.
Ole Smoky Moonshine
You’ll undoubtedly see Ole Smoky beverages if you’re in town for any length of time, as this is the most well-known distillery in East Tennessee. It’s also better than whiskey or moonshine you’ll find in West Tennessee if you ask anyone from this are, although your own tasting venture further west would obviously be the only way to confirm this.
The Barn is Ole Smoky’s outpost in Pigeon Forge, and don’t think it’s a second-rate experience just because this isn’t the distillery’s original location. The Barn is complete with everything you’d find at The Holler (which is Old Smokey’s original location in Gatlinburg).
Pull up a seat at the bar, which is a fairly traditional bar where you can order Ole Smoky’s moonshine or whiskey. As you sip, enjoy watching the still at work making moonshine. The moonshine is distilled and bottled right on-site. There aren’t necessarily formal, regular tours, but you can see the entire process happen and team members are readily available to answer any questions you have.
If you have time to wait or come early in the day, head to the tasting room for a more in-depth exploratory experience. A smaller and always popular space, this bar is specifically designed for tastings of several moonshine or whiskey selections. Let a bartender know what you like, and they’ll guide you through what Ole Smoky has that you might like.
Old Forge Distillery
The Old Forge Distillery makes modern-day moonshine that’s inspired by Pigeon Forge’s rich history. The distillery’s signature 1830 Original Unaged Corn Moonshine harkens back to the year when the town’s historic grist mill was constructed, and the distillery still gets its grain from The Old Mill.
While deeply inspired by the town’s history, The Old Forge Distillery’s product line is far from only standard Tennessee spirits. In addition to that corn moonshine and bourbons, there’s also award-winning vodka, rum and other options. The flavored moonshines, like Coffee, Chocolate and French Toast, draw their inspiration from The Old Mill Kitchen and are must-tries.
The full bar is open daily for tastings or more standard drinks, and there’s a gift shop full of souvenirs. In particular, look for the hand-forged knives made by the resident blacksmith and the moonshine jugs that are hand-crafted by Pigeon River Pottery. Should you have any questions about the distillery’s operations, just ask your bartender and they’ll fill you in.
Smith Creek Distillery
Smith Creek Distillery offers up a dozen flavors of moonshine, ranging from the standard Straight to the less-common Butter Cake. With other selections like Cinnamon, Salted Caramel, Coffee, Lemon Lime and Sweet Tea (a favorite of Southerners), they have the full range of taste preferences covered so that every adult in your party can find something to try.
When you’re not sipping (or slamming) a Peach of Chocolate Silk Moonshine, peruse the gift store. You can pick up a variety of sauces, jams and dry rubs for your designated driver.
Tastings are available anytime the bar is open, and these are tastings that you don’t need to know words like “terror” and “astringent” to appreciate. The various flavors all taste good, and you can work your way through some samples as you please.
Junction 35 doesn’t mess around with its moonshines, whiskeys and other hard spirits. The distillery makes its straight moonshine at 100 proof, and all flavors come in at 75 proof — keep that in mind as you work your way through a tasting.
Tastings are available at the bar, which is also a full bar and supported by a full kitchen. For tastings, you can choose from a large selection of moonshine, rum, gin, vodka, rye whiskey and bourbon whiskey. All are made in small batches and worth trying, so you might have to come back a few times.
Tennessee Shine Co
Tennessee Shine Co continues to use time-honored distilling traditions that have been passed down for generations while creating extremely modern flavors. The Cotton Candy, Nanner Pudding (banana), and Pumpkin Spice all taste like their namesake and have the same color too, and you’ll certainly notice the brightly colored Blue Houdini behind the bar.
Many of these flavors are bottled at lower proofs, often ranging from 25 to 50 proof. That might put them in the category of cocktails rather than moonshine for some, but there’s nothing wrong with a cocktail tasting if that’s what you want to call it. Tastings are available at the bar whenever the distillery is open.
Visit Pigeon Forge’s Distilleries
Pigeon Forge has a rich combination of history and creativity, and it’s sometimes fun to explore that combination in a glass. Stop in at any one (or several) of these distilleries, and you’ll realize why the local moonshine is so popular