Over the past several years, Tennessee's been drinking to the "legalization" of moonshine and the proliferation of distilleries and craft breweries. But one of the latest, Doc Collier Moonshine, isn't really new at all.
"We [follow] the history of our recipe," says general manager Buddy Keyes. That recipe goes back to the 19th century and William "Doc" Collier of English Mountain, "about 15 miles as the crow flies from Gatlinburg," Keyes explains. Just like Doc, the current master distiller, a fourth-generation Collier, uses only English Mountain water for mashing and proofing.
The Gatlinburg shop is the only place to sample or buy Doc Collier flavored 'shines, rum and moonshine brandy. "We're not looking into distributing now," Keyes says. "We want to grow a family tradition that locals can taste and say, ‘This is how papaw used to do it.'"
Doc Collier Moonshine is one of 15 stops on the Tennessee Whiskey Trail. Follow it to the big names –Jack Daniel's in Lynchburg, George Dickel in Tullahoma – and to the boutiques jumpstarted by newcomers. It's a crowded field in Nashville, but Corsair is always good for an unexpected taste. Nelson's Green Brier in Greenbrier tells a great story of Andy and Charlie Nelson reviving a family business shuttered by Prohibition. Prichard's Distillery in Kelso employs small-batch production to handcraft premium whiskey and rum, which you can also enjoy at a second location at Fontanel (formerly owned by country music star Barbara Mandrell) in White's Creek.
Visit the Tennessee Whiskey Trail site at www.tennesseewhiskeytrail.com.
Along the trail, note the crossover. Some distilleries, Corsair included, serve local microbrews; others sample wine. Doc Collier will even point you to its family of wineries. Craft breweries, like Wiseacre Brewing in Memphis, barrel-age high-gravity selections. Hope one's on tap when you visit.