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There’s the spirit of Tennessee: the rolling, open balds and deep hardwood forests of the Volunteer State. Then there’s the spirit: of course, whiskey. Do both this summer on the new 600-mile-plus Tennessee Whiskey Trail, a patchwork of preexisting backcountry paths and sidewalks that passes 30 distilleries. Pick up an official trail passport, and don’t miss these spots as you go. Reminder to drink plenty of water.
H. Clark | Thompson’s Station
Lawyer Heath Clark’s was the first distillery in Williamson County since Prohibition. His homegrown brand makes both whiskey and gin and occupies a century-old, 1,200-square-foot granary that doubles as his law office. Try Tennessee Black & Tan
George Dickel | Cascade Hollow
The upgraded tour includes a new warehouse, expanded tasting room, and the highly-acclaimed Dickel 17 Year Old, which was released last year after the master distiller stumbled upon a forgotten row of 17-year-old barrels. Try George Dickel Rye Whisky
Nelson’s Green Brier Distillery | Nashville
After discovering their family’s forgotten heritage a decade ago, brothers Charlie and Andy Nelson switched career paths to revive their great-great-great grandfather Charles Nelson’s whiskey brand. After a couple years of production, their 30,000-square-foot distillery opened its doors at the end of 2014. Try Belle Meade Bourbon Cognac Cask Finish
Old Forge | Pigeon Forge
Pigeon Forge’s moonshining history dates back to the 1700s. Old Forge, which debuted in 2014, distills in an old grist mill and upped the ante by focusing on small-batch, cocktail-culture spirits—including rum, vodka, cream liqueur, and moonshine—made by grinding its own grain and using water sourced from the land. Try Tennessee Roots Harvest Gin