Looking for a unique Tennessee adventure that's just a road trip away? How about a weekend spent exploring the Tennessee Whiskey Trail in Nashville?
That's right, there's more to Nashville than just country music. Don't get me wrong, I'm not saying I don't like country music. For country music lovers, there is plenty to fill the time you have between whiskey tastings. Honestly, you can spend a full three day weekend here and it will still leave you wanting more. The Grand Ole Opry and Ryman Auditorium, as well as Music Row, the Country Music Hall of Fame, and famous landmarks such as RCA Studio B. There are also countless small music venues like Mercy Lounge, the Bluebird Cafe and Marathon Music Works, where you'll find talented aspiring musicians looking to make a name for themselves. Other fun sightseeing options include Nashville's version of the Parthenon, Andrew Jackson's former home the Hermitage, Belle Meade Plantation, or the Belmont Mansion.
Now let’s get down to the business of whiskey tasting. There are now five official Tennessee Whiskey Trail distilleries in Nashville proper, and an additional four outliers. You can make it to all of them in one weekend if you’re really ambitious; however, I would recommend breaking them up into two weekends for a more relaxing and enjoyable time.
Arrive in Nashville Friday afternoon and visit Nashville Craft Distillery and Pennington Distilling, then eat dinner. After dinner, head over to the Corsair Distillery on Merritt Avenue for a tour, tasting, or cocktail class. To top off the night, visit Diskin Cider, which is right down the street. If you’ve never tried craft cider, this place will make you a fan. In addition to the variety of ciders made on site, they have board games, patio games, an outdoor fire pit, and sometimes live music or a DJ. They also have delicious cocktails and a late night menu.
Saturday morning, grab some breakfast and do some sightseeing, then make your way to Nelson’s Green Brier and Corsair Distillery on Clinton Street. These are both inside the old Marathon Motor Works factory, along with quite a few souvenir and boutique style shops. You can easily spend several hours here wandering in and out of the shops in between whiskey tastings. Nelson's Greenbrier has a REALLY cool story and a nice tour that you can reserve in advance. The Corsair location here also has tours, as well as a cocktail bar and taproom. Take a break for lunch, then head over to the new Big Machine Distillery location. They also own Tenn-South Distillery in Lynnville, which is part of the Middle Tennessee itinerary in my article How to Master the Tennessee Whiskey Trail. Now your evening is free to eat dinner and find a local music venue. Many restaurants and music venues in Nashville require reservations, so check into this ahead of time.
Sunday morning, gear up for some of the best brunch around. You really can't go wrong here. A few of my favorites are the Pancake Pantry, the Loveless Cafe, and Yeast Nashville. Other suggestions can be found on Nashville Guru, which is a a great online resource for all things Nashville. Depending on how far your drive is and what direction you're headed, you should try to visit Old Glory Distilling before heading home. Old Glory is in Clarksville, about 45 minutes north of Nashville.
If you're feeling really adventurous, you may even be able to squeeze in the Kentucky/Tennessee State Line Whiskey Tour. This is a fun offshoot of the Tennessee trail, and combines Old Glory with two distilleries just over the Kentucky border: Casey Jones Distillery and MB Roland Distillery. You even get a free gift after you've visited all three! Check the State Line Whiskey Tour website for more information.
The other three Nashville outliers are H. Clark Distillery in Thompson's Station, Leiper's Fork Distillery in Franklin, and Short Mountain Distillery in Woodbury. If you are purely focused on stamping your whiskey passport, you can skip the sightseeing and combine these three distilleries with your Nashville weekend. You may have to take a Friday off work to do this so you can arrive in Nashville early and get a head start on all your whiskey sippin'. If you do this, you'll probably want to visit four of the "city" distilleries on Friday, such as Nashville Craft, Pennington, Nelson's Greenbrier, and the Corsair location on Clinton Street. Then head down to Leiper's Fork and H. Clark on Saturday afternoon, back to Nashville for dinner and a nightcap at the new Big Machine location downtown. On Sunday, a delicious brunch awaits you at Short Mountain! Depending on which way home is, you'll have to fit in Old Glory either on Sunday before heading home, or Friday afternoon on your way into town. This plan is ambitious, but certainly possible. Whiskey tasting ain't for sissies!
The better way to visit these three distilleries is to make them into a separate weekend getaway. I would recommend finding an AirBNB in Franklin for this weekend. Arrive Friday evening and find a nice place to eat near the square. Some local favorites are 55 South, Grey's on Main, or Cork and Cow.
Saturday morning, eat breakfast at Biscuit Love, and browse the shops in "downtown" Franklin or at The Factory. Then head out to H. Clark Distillery for your first tasting of the day. On the way back to Franklin stop for lunch at the original Pucket's Grocery in Leiper's Fork, then on to your final whiskey tasting at nearby Leiper's Fork Distillery.
Sunday morning, limit yourself to coffee and a light breakfast so you have room for brunch with your whiskey tasting at Short Mountain Distillery before heading back home. This may be out in the country, but it rivals some of the best brunch spots in Nashville!
However you plan your whiskey tasting adventure in Nashville, you're certain to have a good time and discover some of the best spirits around. Please drink responsibly and use designated drivers or Uber/Lyft apps to help you accomplish your whiskey tasting safely. Cheers and happy whiskey tasting!
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