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Ole Smoky Tennessee Moonshine,
Ole Smoky Distillery

Terry Sullivan

Ole Smoky DistillerySummary: For decades, home distillers produced and sold illegal whiskey by the light of the moon. The term moonshine has become synonymous with illegally distilled liquor. The Ole Smoky Distillery, in Gatlinburg, Tennessee is the first legal distillery to follow traditional recipes for making moonshine.

Opening during the summer of 2010, Ole Smoky Tennessee Moonshine, Ole Smoky Distillery became popular with locals and tourists to Gatlinburg. Expansion of the distillery, tasting room and retail areas is planned for 2011. Ole Smoky Distillery is the first legal distillery to produce moonshine also referred to as white lightning, hooch and mountain dew.

Ole Smoky DistilleryThe Process

A mixture of ground grain, mostly corn, and water is added to a large container called a mash cooker. The mash is heated and cooked. Malted barley is added to the mixture. Cooking this mixture turns the grains' starches into fermentable sugars. The mash mixture is cooled and yeast is added to begin fermentation. The mixture is pumped into a fermentation container and allowed to ferment for three to five days. During this time, the liquid called distiller’s beer will reach about eight percent alcohol.

This low alcohol liquid is then heated in a still. Alcohol has a lower boiling point than water. It turns to steam, rises passing through tubes and condenses back to a liquid as it cools. This liquid is now about 150 proof or 75% alcohol. The liquid may pass through the distillery several times. Before bottling, adjustments are made to the level of alcohol by adding purified water.

Ole Smoky DistilleryVisiting

On the day of our visit we saw the mash cooker cooking grains and water. The still was heating the liguid and drops that condensed were dripping into another container. There is no charge for tastings. Visitors can taste the three samples of moonshine. The retail area has clothing with interesting sayings such as, “I don’t know Jack, but I know Shine.” There is also an assortment of canned goods including jellies and preserves. The moonshine is available for purchase in a separate room where it is artfully displayed.


White Lightning was made with 100% corn. It was distilled five to six times. It had a corn flavor and aftertaste. It was smooth with little whiskey burn on the finish. In contrast the corn whiskey, also made with 100% corn finished with whiskey burn. It was distilled twice and had some corn on the aroma and taste. White Lightning was blended with apple cider and spices to make Apple Pie. It had the aroma and taste of apple pie. Tastings are in small plastic cups. People are told not to sip the moonshine. Instead they should quickly swallow it and note the tastes. The moonshine is bottled in mason jars.

Ole Smoky DistilleryOle Smoky Distillery is a wonderful place to visit. One can learn the process of making moonshine and sample three different moonshines.



Ole Smoky Tennessee Moonshine, Ole Smoky Distillery
903 Parkway
Gatlinburg, Tennessee


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Copyright: Terry and Kathy Sullivan 2016