When I think of Gatlinburg, there are a few things that immediately come to mind. Those things are bears, candy kitchens, Dolly Parton, mountains, pancakes, and moonshine. If you've never tried moonshine before, then you absolutely must try it while you're in Gatlinburg. If you have tried it, then you should still stop by some of the local distilleries to see what makes Gatlinburg's 'shine so iconic. Moonshine tastings are a classic Smoky Mountain experience that you simply cannot pass up.
You may be wondering, "why would I want to try some unregulated hooch that is stored in a mason jar and tastes like acetone?" Gatlinburg's moonshine does not fit that stereotype. First of all, Gatlinburg's moonshine is regulated. Second of all, it does not taste like acetone. However, it does come in a mason jar! Gatlinburg 'shine is smooth and delicious. Trust me, I've sampled a lot of it!
I've done moonshine tastings at two of the three local distilleries. The first moonshine I ever tasted was by Ole Smoky. It was "Hunch Punch" flavor (what can I say, I was in college!), which tastes just like fruit punch when mixed with Sprite or soda water. I've also had a few cocktails made with it, my favorite of which is the blackberry mule (Sugarlands blackberry moonshine, lime, and ginger beer) from Sunspot Restaurant in Knoxville. For a while, this was all I knew of moonshine. Then I did my first tasting.
The first tasting I ever did was at Sugarlands, which has become my personal favorite distillery. Sugarlands is soooo fun to visit, and their moonshine is amazing. For five dollars, I got a wristband that earned me thirteen samples: eight moonshines, three "sippin' creams," one rum, and one tropical cocktail. Everything I tried was SO GOOD. My friends and I ended up buying jars of hazelnut rum, dynamite cinnamon moonshine, and butter pecan sippin' cream. Recently, we've been mixing the butter pecan sippin' cream with cold brew coffee and it is the perfect brunch cocktail.
At Ole Smoky, I paid five dollars and received seven samples. Although I passed my moonshine-soaked pickle to a friend, the six samples that I tried were tasty. To me, Ole Smoky seems to taste boozier than Sugarlands, but they carry slightly different flavors and are still easy to drink, so this is by no means a con. There, we purchased a jar of shine nog, which we are so excited to try!
Next time I go moonshine tasting, I hope to finally get to visit Doc Collier. Doc Collier carries a large variety of flavored moonshines, plus Gatlinburg's only moonshine brandy! I've heard nothing but good things about Doc Collier, so I am eager to get over there soon.