Tennessee is renowned for its musical heritage, rolling landscapes, and the fine whiskey it produces. The state's liquor may not compare to Kentucky bourbon when it comes to the number of famous brands, but Tennessee has a proud whiskey heritage itself. Consequently, we wanted to celebrate the various quality whiskeys made in the Volunteer State by looking at -- and ranking -- some of the best brands of Tennessee whiskey.
Now, while the main difference between Tennessee whiskey and Kentucky bourbon involves a filtration step known as the Lincoln County Process, we wanted to look beyond that here. So we're highlighting any distillery that distills and matures its whiskey within Tennessee's borders. Simply put, if a brand makes whiskey in Tennesee -- whether it's bourbon, rye, or a genuine Tennessee whiskey variety -- it was eligible.
We considered numerous factors for this list, including taste, range of products, reputation, and popularity. Our rankings are based in part on personal experience with these whiskeys, as well as research of expert reviews. Without further ado, here are 15 Tennessee whiskey brands ranked.
Read more: The 27 Best Bourbon Brands, Ranked
15. Daddy Rack
While not every distillery featured on this list uses the Lincoln County Process, Daddy Rack does. This Tennessee whiskey may not come from the biggest brand on the list, but it's earned its reputation as a distinctive and noteworthy player in the world of whiskey.
Daddy Rack uses high-quality local ingredients to form its mash bill of 80% corn, 10% rye, and 10% malted barley. It also uses sour mash for fermentation, further showcasing its traditional Tennessee whiskey-making style. This adds up to whiskeys with a robust flavor profile -- though each retains the famously mellow nature of Tennessee whiskey.
Given the distillery's fairly limited range of products and availability (it doesn't appear to be sold in much of the U.S.), we felt compelled to rank Daddy Rack last. Then again, since we only selected quality whiskeys for this list, that hardly means it's bad; and if you're looking for a fun and unique brand? This is well worth seeking out.
14. Old Dominick
Old Dominick is a fantastic distillery with a wide range of spirits in addition to whiskey (including vodka and gin). Established in the heart of Memphis in 1866, Old Dominick boasts a legacy stretching back generations and produces a pair of authentic Tennessee whiskeys made via charcoal mellowing: Straight Tennessee Whiskey, and Bottled-In-Bond.
Those two expressions aren't the only whiskeys produced by Old Dominick, though. It offers a range of bourbon whiskeys, as well, so there's a wide selection available for any whiskey fans seeking this brand at the store. This variety helps mark it as one of the best whiskey producers in the state. We may not feel Old Dominick matches the overall quality or appeal of the whiskey brands ranked higher (hence its second-to-last placement). But it offers a well-rounded drinking experience for whiskey enthusiasts, ranging from smooth and mellow sipping whiskeys to bolder and more complex releases.
13. Cascade Moon
Whiskey often has a reputation for being a little serious and stuffy. But many newer brands are working to change that perception -- and Cascade Moon is one such example. Cascade Moon merges tradition with innovation to do things a little differently with its selection Tennessee whiskeys, along with a high-rye expression. Each of these is tasty with a notable fruity influence.
Cascade Moon encapsulates the region's spirit in each bottle. Produced by the Cascade Hollow Distilling Co. (the same distillery responsible for George Dickel), one of its more intriguing products is the 15-year barrel proof -- which isn't technically or legally whiskey (though it tastes like it) given it's bottled at just under 80 proof.
Of course, while we've always enjoyed Cascade Moon's products, there are simply more authentic (and better-tasting) Tennessee whiskey brands available. Since it also has a rather limited range of distribution -- with several bottles only available in three states -- it slots near the bottom of our list.
12. Bib & Tucker
Bib & Tucker is another whiskey brand that uses the Lincoln County Process. Interestingly enough, while Bib & Tucker whiskeys are matured in Tennessee, its products are actually bottled in Kentucky. Beyond that, another notable feature of Bib & Tucker's whiskeys lies its aging process and production standards.
Bib & Tucker produces small-batch whiskeys aged for a minimum of six years, and includes a 10-year whiskey and 12-year. All four Bib & Tucker whiskeys available as of January 2024 are incredibly smooth; and with proofs ranging between 88 and 99, each bottle is approachable for any bourbon lover. Additionally, the brand's mash bill has a high percentage of rye at 26% (giving the spirits plenty of depth and warmth), while its eye-catching bottle design makes a perfect aesthetic addition to your home bar.
Unfortunately, Bib & Tucker comes with a fairly hefty price tag; and the lack of accessibility for those on a budget -- along with its limited portfolio of products -- affected its ranking. So it slots it in the bottom half.
Since you presumably clicked on this article hoping to find brands that make true Tennessee whiskey, we present another one in Rollins. The brand exclusively uses ingredients sourced from Tennessee and completes the entire distilling process in the state. Though Rollins doesn't boast a wide range of whiskeys -- which keeps it from ranking higher (or cracking our top 10) -- its flagship sour mash whiskey is a very impressive bottle worthy of purchasing.
Rollins makes its spirits in small batches. This ensures the quality remains high in each bottle while allowing the opportunity to compare batches over time. Whatever the batch, its whiskey is characterized by being both smooth and sweet with a great depth of flavor. While it's nicely balanced, there are plenty of spice notes for those looking for something more complex, with notable influences of cinnamon and clove on the palate with each sip. If you're the type who prefers a low-proof whiskey, we highly recommend Rollins.
10. Davidson Reserve
While the product line from Rollins is limited, the same can't be said for Davidson Reserve. The brand's lineup includes five whiskeys (as of January 2024) that cater to a broad range of tastes. This includes a classic Tennessee whiskey, a few bourbons, and a rye whiskey. Perhaps the most interesting is its Four Grain expression, which includes corn, rye, wheat, and barley.
Like other Tennessee-based whiskey brands, Davidson Reserve bottles are made in small batches. And while several other brands use whiskey sourced from other distilleries, or have part of the production process completed at another location, Davidson Reserve is proud to complete its whiskey-making in-house.
The only outside help the brand receives is from its locally sourced ingredients. With a focus on small-batch distillation and meticulous attention to detail, Davidson Reserve creates the authentic taste of whiskey that any enthusiast would appreciate. We may not feel it's better than the higher-ranked brands, but it easily belongs among the top 10 Tennessee whiskey brands.
9. Sugarlands Distilling Company
Sugarlands Distilling Company is a fairly young brand that's quickly built a reputation for creating fantastic spirits. Among them is Roaming Man whiskey, which has won numerous awards since its introduction in 2017 -- a superior quality that helps make up for the limited number of whiskeys offered by Sugarlands Distilling Company.
For those looking for a Tennessee whiskey that's a little different, your search ends here. Bottled at cask strength, Roaming Man is a high-proof brand -- though the proof tends to change slightly from one batch to the next. In fact, with no water added during bottling, the proof for one bottle of Roaming Man may be significantly different from the next.
Another interesting factor to note is that it's rye whiskey, giving this brand a high spice level on both the nose and palate. On the palate, you'll also find flavors of chocolate and oak, along with subtle notes of orange and apple. It's very much on-brand for the Sugarlands Distilling Company, which specializes in creating spirits with innovative flavor profiles. If you're a fan of its whiskey, it's also worth checking out its vodka, moonshine, and liqueur.
Prichard's is a distillery that creates a wide range of spirits. Of course, we're most interested in the brand's whiskey products -- and it has an impressive range of award-winning options. One of these is a classic Tennessee whiskey, though there's a curious fact about that classification. After all, while distilleries can usually only market a bottle as "Tennessee whiskey" if it uses the Lincoln County Process, there's one exception: Prichard's.
As a historic brand with a track record that extends back further than the invention of the Lincoln County Process, Prichard's argued it should be allowed to make whiskey the way it always has while retaining the Tennessee whiskey distinction. But that's not the only reason Pritchard's is different, as the brand also uses white corn in its mash bill instead of the more common yellow corn.
Between its long-running history and distinctive production process, Prichard's is well worth it for anyone eager to try something unique (and delicious). Along with its authentic Tennessee whiskey, it also has malt, rye, bourbon, and white whiskeys to enjoy -- and is placed perfectly near the middle of our rankings.
7. Uncle Nearest
Uncle Nearest is a whiskey brand that pays homage to Nathan 'Nearest' Green -- an enslaved man who pioneered Tennessee whiskey and taught the distilling process to a young Jack Daniel. After being freed, he even became the Master Distiller for Jack Daniel's. Fast-forward to the 21st century, where the female-led team at Uncle Nearest continues to pay tribute to this legendary whiskey-maker.
Of course, while the history of the brand is fantastic, its whiskey is phenomenal, too. It's won many awards and Uncle Nearest offers seven different varieties of whiskey as of January 2024. This includes a small batch, a single barrel, and maturely aged expressions -- though they tend to come with a premium price tag. That cost is the only downside (and what keeps it from ranking higher than seventh).
Still, if you're lucky enough to take a sip, you'll enjoy its exceptional craftsmanship and smooth, nuanced flavor profile. Adding to its appeal, Uncle Nearest has become a symbol of diversity and inclusion in the whiskey industry and showcases the oft-overlooked contributions of both women and African Americans to the world of spirits.
While Uncle Nearest proudly highlights its history and tradition, Corsair has a much more modern focus. The distillery was founded in 2008, with its whiskey winning awards around the world soon after. Created in Nashville, it doesn't follow the state's traditional whiskey-making process and doesn't even have an expression in its core lineup that could be legally classified as bourbon.
Instead, along with other spirits, it produces a dark rye and single malt whiskey. Called Triple Smoke, its American single malt whiskey captures attention with its blend of three different malts to create an expression with plenty of smoke on the palate alongside sweeter notes. The dark rye is another interesting expression with a mash bill of 61% rye, 4% chocolate rye, and 35% barley. The high percentage of barley makes it unique and adds to its depth and complexity.
There's no doubt Corsair has solidified its position as a standout Tennessee whiskey brand through its daring experimentation and unwavering passion for pushing the boundaries. It may have just missed out on the top five, but its sixth-place spot is hardly a knock on the brand.
5. Sweetens Cove
Sweetens Cove is a celebrity whiskey that doesn't do much to promote itself as a celebrity whiskey. Partly owned by sporting legends Peyton Manning and Andy Roddick, the brand developed after the two were involved in purchasing the Sweetens Cove Golf Club. The club has the quirky tradition of players taking a shot of bourbon before each round, but instead of using any old whiskey, the co-owners decided to create their own. Of course, after purchasing premium barrels of aged whiskey, it needed an expert to blend them -- which is where Marianne Eaves stepped in.
The master blender has created beautiful blends of maturely aged bourbons to create a range of impressive expressions. The brand's whiskeys all boast a rich and complex flavor profile, showcasing a perfect harmony of sweet and savory notes. Along with its classic Tennessee offerings, it also has a "Kennessee" whiskey that combines a blend of top-notch whiskeys from both states. Whichever expression you choose, each bottle is a testament to the brand's dedication to quality and the elite blending skill of Marianne Eaves, which makes Sweetens Cove one of the top five Tennessee whiskey brands on the market.
Like many other brands on this list, Chattanooga is a modern distillery -- though one that's inspired by the past. While its first bottles were only released in 2015, Chattanooga has swiftly risen to prominence as one of the most unique Tennessee whiskey brands. Named the 2023 Craft Producer of the Year by Icons of Whisky, it blends innovation with traditional craftsmanship to create experimental and classic whiskey expressions. This is demonstrated, in part, by the fact it operates two distilleries: one on the riverfront, and an experimental distillery in the heart of the city.
Its flagship bottle is the Tennessee High Malt 91 Proof, which earns its name from its fairly high usage of 25% malted grains. It also produces other high-malt bottles, including rye whiskey, while its limited-release experimental expressions are made in all manner of ways. This includes using old casks, infusing various flavors, and blending with peated malts. This spirit of experimentation appeals to any whiskey enthusiast seeking something beyond the conventional and helps elevate Chattanooga into the number four spot on our list.
3. Nelson's Green Brier
Nelson's Green Brier is a revival of a historic Tennessee whiskey brand. Though its roots trace back to the 1800s, the original distillery closed its doors in 1909 when prohibition began in the state (11 years before the nationwide ban). But a century later, it was resurrected, and has emerged as one of the finest distilleries in the industry.
Since the brand's resurrection (by brothers Charlie and Andy Nelson), Nelson's Green Brier has leaned on its rich heritage and distinctive craftsmanship to create a memorable range of products -- showcasing its dedication to reviving not just the label, but the authentic Tennessee whiskey tradition. The distillery offers a wonderful range of whiskeys catering to all tastes as of January 2024, including traditional Tennessee whiskey, bourbon, and rye expressions (often at an affordable price to boot).
Nelson's Green Brier perfectly blends traditions from the past with modern-day quality, consistency, and craftsmanship. More importantly, its whiskeys are generally highly rated and perfect for those wanting to sample Tennessee whiskey from a smaller, family-owned business. Frankly, the only reason it couldn't crack the top two was the quality of the Tennessee whiskey brands ranked above it (rather than a knock on its products).
2. George Dickel
We're fairly certain you already know what will be number one here, but George Dickel deserves its place as the best of the rest. Established in the 19th century, it's carved a niche as one of the finest brands of Tennessee whiskey on the market. Earning its reputation for excellence through distinctive qualities that set it apart from many of its rivals, the brand uses the Lincoln County Process to create genuine Tennessee whiskey. But George Dickel takes an interesting additional step: It chills its whiskey before the charcoal filtration to create an even smoother and mellower flavor.
Of course, while the brand's whiskey is undeniably smooth, there's also plenty of character, with oakiness and spice in many of its expressions. George Dickel is known for its small-batch production, as well, allowing greater precision and control over the final product. This approach ensures consistency and quality across its range of products, from the classic 8-year to the more exclusive releases. Simply put, if you're looking for a brand to start drinking Tennessee whiskey (beyond the obvious number-one pick)? George Dickel is a great place to begin.
1. Jack Daniel's
Jack Daniel's is one of the most popular and well-known whiskey brands in the entire world (Tennesee or otherwise). Its global appeal is humongous ... but it all starts with making brilliant Tennessee whiskey. Established in 1866, Jack Daniel's has stood the test of time by perfecting the charcoal mellowing process -- becoming a symbol of Tennessee's rich distilling heritage.
Doing everything in-house, Jack Daniel's uses 10 feet of charcoal to achieve the perfect results. This leads to a whiskey that's not only mellow but retains a level of complexity that sets it apart from other Tennessee whiskey brands. Along with the expected sweetness, we also find a fantastic balance of spice and smokiness throughout its expressions. While its Old No. 7 bottle has become a timeless classic, there's a wide variety of Jack Daniel's whiskeys you can also enjoy.
Beyond the exceptional product itself, Jack Daniel's has achieved worldwide cultural significance, and its association with American music (particularly country and rock) further elevates the brand. Whether sipped neat, on the rocks, or in cocktails, Jack Daniel's remains a benchmark for the Tennessee whiskey experience. There may be some snobbery from enthusiasts regarding its success, but considering many whiskey lovers began their journey with a bottle of Jack? We think it should be seen as a flag bearer for Tennessee whiskey's popularity across the globe. More than that? We think it's the best Tennessee whiskey brand out there.
We considered several factors when compiling this ranking of Tennessee whiskey brands. Along with the quality and expressions of each brand's whiskeys, we considered the overall reputation, price, number of products offered, and range of distribution and availability. For instance, if a distillery only produces a single top-shelf whiskey that isn't widely available, it would struggle to rank highly on this list.
Additionally, though we have plenty of experience with Tennessee whiskey, we didn't rely solely on firsthand knowledge when making this list. We also looked at a range of expert reviews to help fill in any gaps in our expertise and ensure our ranking process of the best Tennessee whiskey brands was both fair and (relatively) objective.
Read the original article on Tasting Table.