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Driving through the hills of East Tennessee, a variety of craft distilleries reveal themselves. What is surprising is how many of them are choosing bourbon over Tennessee whiskey. But maybe it's not so surprising.

When startup distilleries get going, it is very hard to wait 2-4 years for product to age before selling any spirits. So some go to vodka, gin, and moonshine. Others go to sourcing from external sources. Since it is difficult to source Tennessee whiskey, bourbon is the next likely choice.

Here are two distilleries that have great starts with some interesting bourbons.


45% ABV - 90 Proof - High rye bourbon sourced from MGP with aging whiskey of their own in the future. Three years old. The distillery is located in Jonesborough, TN, the former capital of the lost State of Franklin.

The nose brings banana bread, baking spices, and a toasted rye warmth. The palate has a sharp spicy bite with orange citrus that turns into a slightly bitter orange rind and grapefruit. The finish goes to espresso and orange rind.


45% ABV - 90 Proof - Wheated bourbon from MGP that has been aged 2 years. They are currently producing their own spirits for future release. The distillery is one block off the main drag in Pigeon Forge and includes a nice shop, restaurant, and you can see the distillery through the window.

The nose has a slight bit of youth, with a craft store kind of smell to it (dried flowers and Styrofoam). The mouthfeel is pleasant and the palate finds hints of both herbal essence and grain. The finish is bitter charred wood, with an almost metallic hint as it lingers.

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