Hauntingly Good Local Spirits
It’s October—the weather will start to cool, and the leaves will start to change color. Autumn is upon us, and with it comes on of the season’s favorite festivities, Oktoberfest!
As Music City’s culinary star has risen, so have the number of craft breweries and distilleries based in our own back yard. It’s now entirely possible to celebrate Oktoberfest for an entire month, imbibing only the best local brands. You could try something new every day and not run out of options before Halloween!
This month’s cover is meant to highlight some of those local brands, many of which feature local brand-centric taprooms and many others which are popular at our favorite local gay bars.
Corsair Distillery became licensed in the state of Tennessee in 2010, and by 2012 it had been awarded "Craft Distillery of the Year" and "Innovator of the Year" by *Whisky Magazine*. Corsair is housed at Marathon Motorworks Village, the former location of Yazoo Brewery, is the site of the company’s distilling operation in Tennessee, and now houses a 240 gallon still from the 1920s that survived Prohibition.
Corsair produces a wide variety of spirits, from gin to whiskey and even a red absinthe, all of which are spectacular. Editor James Grady puts this distillery at the top of the list because the company’s signature gin is “out of this world … definitely my favorite Tennessee spirit!”
Corsair has a taproom and offers distillery tours at its location at 1200 Clinton Street
Yazoo Brewing Company
This local favorite produces a wide variety of local craft beers, from seasonal concoctions to locally historic brews. The latter includes the Gerst Amber Ale, Nashville’s oldest beer. Gerst Amber Ale was the recipe of the Gerst House, a recently-closed local legend, and was passed along to Yazoo to keep its beer legacy alive in the community.
Yazoo has also been supportive of LGBT community groups, such as the Nashville Grizzlies, whose Christmas party the brewery’s Taproom has hosted for the last few years. Check them out at 910 Division Street.
Relatively new to the scene, Diskin is Nashville’s first and as yet only craft cidery. Their sweet-tart deliciousness can be found on tap or by the can at bars and restaurants across Middle Tennessee, and the cidery’s tasting room now hosts weekend brunches, as well as other events, in addition to regular tastings.
Made locally, Diskin Ciders translate Nashville into their recipes, with offerings like Lil' Blondie Semi-sweet Southern Cider and Six One Five Fruit Tea Cider. Check out some of their concoctions at your favorite local spot, or at their tasting room at 1235 Martin Street
Other Local Favorites:
Black Abbey Brewery is a local artisanal brand that produces a beer based on the long tradition of German monastic brewing. This brewery offers tastings in its taproom and tours of its facilities at 2952 Sidco Drive.
East Nashville Beer Works—open 7 days a week—is a neighborhood favorite. This is due in no small part to their dog-friendly beer garden! This family-friendly location also features a great menu including pizza and salads. Check them out at 320 E. Trinity Lane, or find them on tap at your favorite watering hole.
Jack Daniel Distillery is the oldest registered distillery in the United States. Visitors receive personally-guided tours of the distillery, listed on the National Register of Historic Places, and observe the famous whiskey-making process Mr. Jack Daniel perfected back in 1866. It’s a little drive from Nashville to Lynchburg, but definitely worth an afternoon!
Nashville Craft Distillery is fairly new to the scene. Since 2016, Nashville Craft Distillery, founded by a forensic scientist, has produced small-batch spirits from scratch, with a focus on local and regional ingredients. Earlier this year, a New York Times article, “Five Places to Go in Nashville,” featured this distillery.
Short Mountain Distillery was among the first in Tennessee to recapture the hallowed art of moonshine making for the modern consumer. Departing from touristy attempts to utilize poor-quality, highly flavored neutral spirits, owner Billy Kaufman studied traditional Tennessee recipes for shine and has created a line of high-quality spirits. Short Mountain Distillery is also LGBT owned and operated, so if you haven’t yet, give them a try!
Turtle Anarchy Brewing Company is a family-owned microbrewery in Nashville. What started as a weekend hobby shared by brothers grew into a 5,600 craft brewhouse in Franklin, Tennessee, in 2012, and a much larger facility in Nashville in 2015. Their mission is to brew flavorful, dynamic, and unique beers.
This is just a small selection of the local, craft and artisanal outfits producing quality alcoholic beverages. So this October, as the ghosts and goblins begin to stir, drink responsibly, but get out there and try something new, maybe one of Nashville’s frightfully good spirits!
From Tribe’s Gabriel Diangeli:
I fell in love with Tailgate's peanut butter milk stout from the first time I tried it, and it’s the only dark beer that I crave. Its silky sweet taste coats your mouth with its rich flavor, and leaves an almost chocolaty finish. It’s a very heavy beer so I typically only have one, but that one glass is perfection.
I've come to really enjoy Nashville Brewing companies Lager. It’s not too hoppy and not too wheaty, but leaves a slight citric flavor on your taste buds. To me, it’s the perfect light lager for a warm day.
I can't say enough good things about Pickers Blueberry vodka! Blueberry is my favorite flavor, and Pickers have done it justice. Slightly sweet, with a minimum bite, and because it’s actually made with fresh blueberries, you know it has a very crisp taste. Because the vodka itself has such an amazing flavor, I don't want to ruin it by adding too much else when I make a drink with it. A little sprite, a splash or fresh Lemon juice, and if you've got a big sweet tooth like me, maybe add a little triple sec to spruce it up and make the blueberry really pop!
When it cools down outside I tend to reach for darker liquors, and Pennington Ryes are very satisfactory. From a strawberry that will knock your socks off, to a soft vanilla that will warm you right up, and even a peach apricot that adds a little fruity goodness to your life. I like them all simply on the rocks, or with a splash of soda water to sparkle it up. We all need to treat our mouths to something delicious, so open up and give it a try.