Legal moonshine in Gatlinburg, Tennessee

Oct 21, 2013 at 5:30 p.m. ET

Taste the moonshine and buy some from the store, not the back of a van the way your grandfather might have done!

The Great Smoky Mountains are located along the Tennessee and North Carolina border. For hundreds of years, you could find moonshine in many locations. Those moonshine jars, however, were not legal. Although your granny or your granny's neighbor may have been the one who made that gallon jar of corn liquor, it would have been illegal. Until recently, that is.

Ole Smoky Moonshine
Photo credit: Ole Smoky Moonshine via Facebook

First licensed distillery

Ole Smoky Moonshine is a distillery located in Gatlinburg, Tennessee. Ole Smoky touts their products as "an opportunity to showcase the art of superior mountain-made moonshine. The Ole Smoky recipes are the product of hard work and experience of local families who have made moonshine in the mountains for the last 200 years."

From apple pie to blueberry, peach to white lightning, the flavors are endless, and you can taste them all! Located in downtown Gatlinburg, tourists from all over are drawn to Ole Smoky Moonshine. As soon as you approach the distillery, you can smell the fermenting and grains. Ole Smoky is the first federally licensed distillery in the history of east Tennessee. Many people remember, however, the way moonshine was once sold; typically in someone's basement or in the back of a truck that was disguised as a produce stand to hide their bootlegging ways!

Take a tour and a taste

Wander through the distillery, look at the photos and images and read bits and pieces of the history of the local families who made moonshine in the mountains of Tennessee in the last 200 years. Keep in mind, however, that moonshine is not for the faint of heart! The original moonshine is for whiskey lovers — those who don't mind the "burn" as it goes down. Taste the White Lightnin' variety, and you will be told that this is Ole Smoky's alternative to vodka, gin and tequila. Some of the favorites by tasters were the Blackberry, Peach and Apple Pie varieties. While visiting, you can even pick up some Moonshine Jelly or Moonshine Mustard Barbecue Sauce.

Plan ahead

Because the moonshine definitely packs a punch, plan on a designated driver for your group of tasters. There is even a lovely rental company located just up the mountain on Ski Mountain Road. Mountain Rentals and Realty will help you arrange a taxi back to your chalet if you have had too many sips of the moonshine or it is too dark to drive back up the mountain. Enjoy the wonder of moonshine; the various flavors, the history and the excitement of Ole Smoky Moonshine, now that the moonshine is legal!

A little moonshine trivia

The beloved song to Tennessee Volunteer fans, "Rocky Top," even makes reference to moonshine! "Once two strangers climbed Ole Rocky Top looking for a moonshine still. Strangers ain't come down from Rocky Top. Reckon they never will." This song, written by Boudleaux and Felice Bryant, is a nostalgic longing for simpler times; and the moonshine reference is a history lesson of how prohibition created a deep conflict between moonshiners and the government.

More yummy tastes

Host a blind wine tasting
Beer tastings
Cheese tasting party