Tennessee distillers unite to form guild

(WBIR-Pigeon Forge) It's T-minus two months until the state's newest distillery opens in Sevier County.

"Several of us have done some homebrewing, some homebrewing beer experience, and this is the natural next step," Keener Shanton, a distiller for the newly-formed Old Forge Distillery said Sunday.

Over the last several weeks, contractors have turned the a former antique shop in Pigeon Forge into a business where another old-time item: moonshine, will be the big seller.

"Spent a lot of time and money to put together," project manager Kris Tatum said.

Old Forge Distillery, with licensing ready, will be one of the first members of the Tennessee Distillers' Guild, which held its first meeting last week in Nashville. More than half of the state's known 20 distilleries will be part of the network, designed to teach other moonshine and whiskey makers how to expand on their craft.

"We can move forward to promote the Tennessee whiskey as well as the moonshine in the area, and the craft that it is and promote it across this state," Tatum added. "It allows us to be a brotherhood and share ideas and share issues that we have, and it increases the knowledge about the craft about whiskey -- about Tennessee whiskey specifically."

A goal of the guild is to eventually build a 'whiskey trail' of sorts in Tennessee, similar to a marketed 'bourbon trail' in Kentucky.

"The beauty we all see is the new legislation we can make it generations longer..." Tatum said.

The industry, new in legality, old in controversy, is gathering steam as more people jump aboard the future of the guild.

"There's a whole big other part of this that I'm going to have to be familiar with before I can make this machine run here," Shanton said.


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