Most individuals head to Tennessee because of country music. Unknown to some, the Volunteer State is also home to many well-rounded flavors of whiskey.
Tennessee whiskey is making a comeback after dominating the whiskey industry before the Prohibition era.
This period affected whiskey production, but nowadays, you can enjoy the very best Tennessee whiskeys.
Tennessee whiskey resembles bourbon. First, it contains a mash bill of at least 51% corn. Second, the manufacturers age the whiskey in charred oak barrels.
Unlike bourbon, this whiskey has to undergo the Lincoln County Process. This process involves filtering the liquor through maple charcoal before barreling. It removes congeners and unwanted impurities.
There is a thriving whiskey scene in Tennessee. You won’t find a shortage of the best Tennessee whiskeys. Here are Tennessee bottles that you should seek out.
George Dickel Barrel Select
Every discerning whiskey drinker deserves a taste of this liquor.
Dickel flies under the radar but makes some outstanding whiskey. At the top is the Barrel Select brand.
Thanks to charcoal mellowing and unique aging, this whiskey has a silky taste of spice, charcoal, and vanilla.
Barrel Select is among the best Tennessee Whiskeys that age for at least nine years. The distiller converts only ten barrels into premium whiskey.
The hand selection ensures you get smooth whiskey with exceptional balance and delicacy.
Jack Daniel’s Tennessee Straight Rye Whiskey
This whiskey swaps the corn-heavy mash present in most Jack Daniel’s for more rye.
Although the rye is 70%, the production process remains the same. It passes through maple charcoal filtration to enhance smoothness.
The Jack Daniel’s Straight whiskey foregoes traditional rye notes to offer an eccentric combo of aromas. Once you open the bottle, you’ll encounter a commanding smell of custard, banana, and hay.
The whiskey comes with a strong punch of alcohol. You’ll need to dilute it to unearth drops of anise, vanilla, and charred wood.
Heaven’s Door Double Barrel Whiskey
Heaven’s Door Double Barrel is a unique brand that blends two marsh bill whiskeys from Tennessee and a straight rye whiskey.
Heaven’s Door ages these whiskeys independently for six years.
The distillery blends the whiskeys and further matures them for an additional year. Maple charcoal mellowing then follows to ensure a smooth finish.
Its smell is that of cinnamon with deep oak aromas. The palate features a robust flavor of dried fruit, fennel, persimmon, butterscotch, and oats.
The aftertaste is a long-lasting caramel finish. Celebrity products often struggle to justify the hype, but not this Bob Dylan’s whiskey.
Nelson’s First 108 Tennessee Whiskey
Nelson’s Green Brier Distillery is famous for its Belle Meade Bourbon lineup.
However, the company released its first whiskey 108 years after Prohibition.
The ingredients of this Tennessee whiskey include wheat, corn, and malted barley mash bill. The whiskey undergoes Tennessee’s tradition of maple charcoal filtering before aging.
Its color is much darker given its rapid aging in small barrels. The nose is a blend of light baking spices, sweet caramel, burnt brown sugar, and prominent cereal grains. This Tennessee whiskey is surprisingly hot for a 90-proof whiskey.
Dilute with plenty of water, ice cube, or cola to neutralize the heat. This unearths a spicy base with notes of cinnamon and butterscotch.
The finish is bold, spicy, with a hint of clove. It’s undoubtedly a complex drink for a two-year-old whiskey.
Uncle Nearest 1856 Premium Whiskey
Uncle Nearest 1856 Premium Whiskey is a blend of several whiskies from different distilleries.
The whiskeys in use must age for 8-14 years.
Although the label doesn’t feature “Tennessee whiskey,” this drink is made in the Volunteer State. Its production employs maple charcoal filtration to generate a smooth distillate.
The nose has an inviting aroma of charred oak, caramel, and cornbread. There is also a hint of orange blossom and white pepper. At 100 proof, the alcohol is strong, but it doesn’t drub the aromas.
The taste is dry yet smooth. There is a creamy candy-like sweetness with a drop of spices and maple syrup as the whiskey crosses your tongue.
The finish is smooth with a mellow woodiness. It might leave a warm tingle in your chest.
Corsair Triple Smoke
Corsair is a Nashville-based distillery that crafts several Tennessee whiskeys.
Triple Smoke whiskey is one such product. It’s a single malt liquor that heavily features smoky notes.
Corsair makes Triple Smoke from three smoked malts. One batch has smoked peat, the other smoked cherry, and another smoked beechwood. The distillery then blends the three batches to create one of the best Tennessee whiskeys.
The nose is a touch of smoke, char, fresh herbs, orange, and mint. The smoke is light, and its intensity doesn’t overwhelm the other notes.
The smoke is more intense on the palate. Within it lies mild peat, cherry, charred wood, malty sweetness, and butterscotch fudge.
Chattanooga Whiskey 111
Despite Chattanooga Whiskey Company being relatively new, it has been making delicious craft whiskey.
The Chattanooga Whiskey 111 is among the best Tennessee whiskeys. It’s an unfiltered, barrel strength that undergoes two years of aging.
The distillery makes Cask 111 from a single fermentation that extends for a further one week. Each 8-12 barrels represents a distillation run.
Lack of filtration ensures Cast 111 retains bits of flavor and complexity from the ingredients. The nose is a mixture of butterscotch, caramel, dark fruit, toffee, and raisins. Its malty undertone keeps all the aromas in check.
The nose might be potent, but you won’t find a younger whiskey with a smoother taste. It has a creamy mouthfeel with sweetness from raspberries and canned peaches.
The finish is a complex, diverse assortment of flavors that leaves you yearning for the next sip.
Prichard’s Tennessee Whiskey
This fifth-generation liquor extends the works of the famous Benjamin Prichard.
Unlike other Tennessee whiskeys, this whiskey doesn’t undergo the charcoal mellowing process. It also doesn’t use the standard yellow corn.
Instead, the manufacturers opt for white corn. White corn adds a bit of sweetness and a unique taste.
This Tennessee whiskey offers a rich aroma of barrel char, smoke, bittersweet oak, and toffee on the nose.
It has a creamy mouthfeel taste with toasted spices like cinnamon and nutmeg. The finish is sweet with an enduring oak note.
Sweetens Cove Tennessee Bourbon Whiskey
This brand is a relatively new Tennessee whiskey.
The masterminds behind the liquor are celebrities Peyton Manning, Jim Nantz, and Andy Roddick. These celebrities might be the owners, but the blending task falls on the well-known Marianne Eaves.
This whiskey is a premium bottle that comes with a 101.4 proof cask strength.
It’s a delightful concoction of scents that doesn’t bash you over with heavy fragrances. Butterscotch, green apple, brown sugar, cream soda, and caramel dominate early sniffs.
You will also notice faint smells of vanilla. It’s sweet on the palate with notes of leather, cedar, chocolate cake, vanilla, pecan, banana bread, and syrupy oak.
Roaming Man Tennessee Straight Rye Whiskey
Sugarlands Distilling in Gatlinburg makes this young rye.
At 119.6 proof, Roaming Man Whiskey packs a punch. The whiskey’s heat is dominant on the nose. As it dissolves in, you’ll notice a blend of sandalwood, allspice, cardamom, dark honey, raisins, and caramel.
Some grainy notes are still present. Sugarlands might need to tame such grains. With that said, it’s still an impressive whiskey.
The taste has shades of toasted oak, cinnamon bark, rye spice, orange chocolate, apple, carob, and plums.
Adding water reduces the heat but might water down some flavors. The finish is smooth, long-lasting, and well-balanced.
Rollins Tennessee Whiskey
Rollins performs only one function—producing whiskey that adheres to Tennessee standards.
This distillery makes whiskey using local corn and grain sour mash. It follows the Lincoln County Process when filtering the distillate. The whiskey comes at 40% ABV.
The aroma features hints of caramelized sugar, charred oak, vanilla, and dried herbs. On the palate, it’s warm and smooth.
It has a dominant taste of cinnamon and clove with a tiny hint of malt. The finish is balanced and smooth.
Clayton James Tennessee Whiskey
Tenn South Distillery manufactures Clayton James Whiskey using a slightly different procedure.
Rather than use the conventional Lincoln County Process, this distillery holds its distillate in sugar maple charcoal under pressure. This process lasts for a week.
The result is whiskey with an apple and pears smell. There’s also a hint of apricot, caramel, and agave.
This Tennessee whiskey comes with a rich taste of maple syrup, spice, and vanilla. You can enjoy it neat or mix it with the cocktail of your choice.
Jack Daniel’s Old No.7 Tennessee Whiskey
Jack Daniel’s is a behemoth in whiskey production.
It isn’t surprising that Jack Daniel’s Old No.7 is among the best-selling whiskeys in the world.
This brand defines what Tennessee whiskey is all about. Its production occurs in America’s oldest distillery, the Jack Daniel’s Distillery in Lynchburg, Tennessee.
Old No.7 is popular due to its balanced, sweet, oaky flavor. It doesn’t follow a production calendar. Instead, it becomes ready when experienced tasters certify its taste and aroma.
The Best Whiskey from Tennessee
- George Dickel Barrel Select
- Jack Daniel’s Straight Rye
- Heaven’s Door Double Barrel
- Nelson’s First 108
- Uncle Nearest 1856
- Corsair Triple Smoke
- Chattanooga Whiskey 111
- Sweetens Cove
- Roaming Man Rye
- Clayton James
- Jack Daniel’s Old No.7
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