Ole Smoky: Gatlinburg’s First Moonshine Maker Does It Right

OK – let’s clear up one thing. This is the Smoky Mountains we’re talking about; Gatlinburg is Appalachian Country. There definitely were moonshine makers before Ole Smoky. What we’re talking about here is the first LEGAL moonshine operation in East Tennessee.

Ole Smoky: Gatlinburg's First Moonshine Maker Does It Right

We got the scoop from Gary Davis, who took us on a tour. A few of his buddies found a moonshine recipe from an old family member. They heard stories from their grandpa about how running moonshine back in the day wasn’t about living a corrupt lifestyle; it was about paying the bills and making ends meet. The rest is history.

Ole Smoky: Gatlinburg's First Moonshine Maker Does It RightJoe Baker, Tony Breeden and Cory Cottongim worked to change the perception of moonshine, and opened Ole Smoky Holler in 2010. With the help of Dave Pickerell (previously the Master Distiller for Maker’s Mark…so you know he’s awesome) they worked the recipes until they were right. And boy, are they ever!

The Holler, their location on Gatlinburg’s main street, was the first location and it’s said to be the most visited distillery in the country. Here you can see (and smell..and hear) the corn fermenting. You can see the entire distillery process, in fact, run by a half-dozen guys who learned their trade from friends and family of Joe Baker. Each of their locations is responsible for supplying the store they brew at…and another complex “down yonder” makes a supply for purveyors in all 50 states!

Now for the tasting! For only $5 you will sample 13 different flavors of Ole Smoky. Each sample is a 1/4 shot…so you still walk out with over four shots of moonshine…but you’re still intact enough to find your way to their whiskey and wine showrooms just down the street!

My two favorites were the highest proof – go figure! The Blue Flame is 128 proof, and it goes down so smooth! And for dessert…the Chocolate Cherries! Their soaked in 100 proof moonshine, with a touch of chocolate flavor. Add them to bourbon, ice cream…eat them whole!

Ole Smoky: Gatlinburg's First Moonshine Maker Does It Right

Brooklyn, our AMAZING tasting guide, told us that the most popular flavors include the lower-proof/more sweet varieties of Mountain Java (tastes like cold brew), Apple Pie (it’s like a liquid pie, for sure), and the Strawberry Mango Margarita. Probably because not everyone on the planet drinks whiskey in the quantities that hubby and I do….the general public prefers the less potent, sweeter sips.

Go for tour….do NOT skip the tasting…hang out and listen to some music while you’re there. And by all means, take home a few bottles of moonshine!


365 Daily posts are short and sweet, designed to highlight the discoveries we unearth on a daily basis as we explore Atlanta, the South, and the world! Thank you to Gatlinburg and Ole Smoky for hosting us. 

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Ole Smoky: Gatlinburg's First Moonshine Maker Does It Right

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