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Tennessee whiskey on verge of growth spurt

on 25/09/12 at 8:40 am


Boutique distilleries have been popping up all over Tennessee since the legislature changed state law in 2009 to expand legal liquor production to 41 counties from three.

Most of the new licensed stills have concentrated on such products as moonshine, gin, rum and other mass-market liquors — sometimes flavored to vie for younger taste buds.

Tennessee whiskey, though, is more of a craft.

It takes a long time to age, and it requires lots of patience on the part of those who cook it up and finance its worldwide distribution. Competing with the big boys of the high-octane sport — Jack Daniel’s and George Dickel — is expensive.

Now, two distilleries planned for Giles County will be dedicated to producing the same kind of Tennessee sippin’ whiskey made famous by the Jack Daniel’s and George Dickel companies.

One of those, Tenn South Distillery on a 28-acre plot near Lynnville, will fire up operations in December with limited production runs.

But the other, to be built on a 120-acre site near Pulaski, along Interstate 65 about 15 miles from the Tennessee-Alabama border, will be a big-time operation rivaling the scale of Jack Daniel’s, its founders say.

The primary product of this outfit, The Tennessee Spirits Co., will be Jailers Premium Tennessee Whiskey.

Plans call for the distillery and processing plant to have a capacity to produce 5 million cases of whiskey each year and to distribute it worldwide, as Jack Daniel’s does with its storied brand.

The timing seems ideal. U.S. spirits exports hit a record $1.34 billion in 2011.