About Tennessee Whiskey

About Tennessee Whiskey
Tennessee Whisky must contain a minimum of 51% corn, be produced in Tennessee, be distilled at less than 80% ABV (160 proof), filtered through a bed of sugar maple charcoal, and be aged for a minimum of two years in new charred barrels.

The Taste: The taste descriptors for Tennessee whisky tend to parallel those of its Kentucky cousin. The distinction and the difference comes on the finish which is long, clean, and very, very smooth—a result of the final sugar maple charcoal filtration. Legally, Tennessee whiskeys could be sold as Bourbon; but the two Volunteer State distillers are proud enough of their “sipping whisky” to insist that the difference be known to all.

Tennessee whiskey is a first cousin of Bourbon, with virtually an identical history. The same sort of people used the same sort of grains and the same sort of production techniques to produce a style of whiskey that, remarkably, is noticeably different. The early whiskey distillers in Tennessee, for reasons that are lost in the mists of history, added a final step to their production process when they began filtering their whiskey through thick beds of sugar maple charcoal. This filtration removes some of the congeners (flavor elements) in the spirit and creates a smooth, mellow palate. The two remaining distillers in the state continue this tradition, which a distiller at the Jack Daniel’s Distillery once described as being "same church, different pew."

Top Picks for Tennessee Whiskey

Uncle Nearest 11 Year 1820 Premium Single Barrel Tennessee Whiskey Barrel No. US-53
95 points
$120
Golden amber color. Aromas of fine black tea, cigars, vanilla bean, lily, and speculoos cookies with a round, dryish medium-to-full body and a warming, layered, very long graham cracker crust, spice cake, chess pie, and pecan praline finish. A round, somewhat floral Tennessee Whiskey with luxurious vanilla flavor.
Davidson Reserve Single Barrel No. 15-0026 Small Batch Tennessee Straight Sour Mash Whiskey
92 points
$59
Copper color. Aromas of chocolate malt shake, gingerbread cookies, brown sugar-tossed sweet plantains, licorice, freshly sawn oak, and maple with a lightly tannic, vibrant, dry full body and a hot, interesting, long carob, date cake, marcona almonds, and licorice finish. A rich, oaky Tennessee Whiskey with all the dark, mysterious flavors.
The Clover 10 Year Old Tennessee Straight Bourbon Whiskey
88 points
$69
Amber color. Interesting aromas of honey-drizzled melons, plump dried figs, rice crackers, and charcoal with a tannic, crisp, dry medium body and a tingling, interesting, medium-long chocolate cake, halvah, and hints of rose water finish. Distinctively dry and chocolate-y, this rock-solid Tennessee Whiskey delivers.
James Younger Tennessee Sour Mash Whiskey
88 points
$13.99
Best Buy
Amber color. Aromas of toasted cornbread, dried cranberry and plum, buttery pastry, and banana with a round, crisp, dry medium body and a polished, charming, medium-length cherry preserves, caramel, and gingersnap cookie finish. A smooth and easy-drinking Tennessee whiskey with lots of appeal.
88 points $13.99 Best Buy
Wanderin’ Rogue Batch No. 057 Tennessee Whiskey
87 points
$22
Light golden amber color. Aromas of sweet corn cakes, candied cherry, roasted walnuts on banana bread, and cake batter with a satiny, crisp, dry light body and a tingling, appealing, medium-length southern biscuit, peppercorn muffin, and buttercream finish. A rock solid Tennessee Whiskey with sweet corn character and a rich, satisfying palate.
Trader Joe’s Tennessee Whiskey
84 points
$13.99
Dark amber color. Aromas of butterscotch, green apple, margarine, and darkly caramelized pineapple with a round, crisp, dry full body and a peppery, short-to-medium black pepper and dried cherries finish. A dense and spicy Tennessee whiskey for cocktails.
84 points $13.99
Jesse James Single Barrel Tennessee Whiskey
84 points
$39.49
Golden amber color. Grainy aromas of wet grain, dough, cinnamon, orange peel, and carob with a satiny, crisp, dry light body and an effortless, quick peppercorns, herb muffin, and butter finish. A mild, grain-centric Tennessee Whiskey that will be a nice introduction to the category.
84 points $39.49