Smoky Mountains in the Fall

Grains & Grits: Tennessee’s Nod to Whiskey and Smoky Mountain Culture

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My obsession with whiskey and bourbon didn’t actually start in Tennessee, though the story finds its way here … eventually. Rather, I left my home state at age 22 when my palette was too young to be refined, and I thought Jäger bombs and whatever was cheapest on tap—usually, something watery and disgusting, thanks to my years roaming Knoxville’s lively Strip as a penny-pinching student at the University of Tennessee—were the way to go on a Friday night (and a Saturday, and a Tuesday, if I’m being honest).

Grains & Grits Whiskey Festival in Tennessee

It wasn’t until I reached the shrewd age of 25 in California that older, much wiser friends introduced me to the beauty of my Tennessee roots: whiskey, bourbon, all things brown liquor. And for the past decade and change, I’ve only delved deeper into that world, now having completed the entire Tennessee Whiskey Trail—according to official records, I was third and SVV was fourth—and becoming a big proponent for the spirited history of my state, which includes the Grains & Grits Festival in Tennessee.

Grains & Grits Whiskey Festival in Tennessee

Many of you long-time readers know that I hail from Tullahoma. Don’t know where that is? Well, I’ll just go ahead and show you: a respectable 12.5 miles from Jack Daniel’s Distillery and 3.5 miles from George.

Tennessee distillery map

I’d long been taking all my out-of-towners to Jack for the full distillery experience, since I was barely legal. And George is on a first-name basis with everyone in my family; if my mom comes over and we don’t have Dickel and Sun Drop, the other local beverage for which my town is known, in bulk, she becomes irate. A (Diet) Dickel Drop fuels that woman. (Sorry for exposing your skeletons, Mom.)

Win a Pair of Tickets to the First Ever Grains & Grits bourbon festival in the Smoky Mountains of Tennessee!

Around the time we returned to Tennessee, bourbon and whiskey started having a moment, thanks to a legislation change in 2009 largely spearheaded by our friend Heath Clark that played on the notion that “if folks are OK with drinking, then they’re OK with making [spirits].” That law opened about 70 percent of the state up to distilling, and as a result, the spirits industry has prospered; there are now 27 member distilleries on the thriving Tennessee Whiskey Trail.

Tennessee Backroads and the Whiskey Trail

Now, let’s talk about another love of mine: The Smoky Mountains.

Did you know that the Smokies is the United States’ most visited national park, with more than 11 million people annually coming to see its beauty for themselves? It’s true, I swear it. My grandparents spent the first 30 years of their lives right near there in Knoxville. My grandmother’s brother, my Uncle Tom—and yes, he had a cabin (no, really)—lived right on the park’s fringe, and summer trips as kids were spent making our base from his house, biking Cades Cove, tubing on Fort Loudoun Lake, floating the river in Townsend. For those who have yet to experience the majesty of the Smokies in all her glory, I feel for you—you need to remedy that, stat.

Smoky Mountains in the Fall
Smoky Mountains in the Fall

Win a Pair of Tickets to the First Ever Grains & Grits bourbon festival in the Smoky Mountains of Tennessee!

Segue coming in 3, 2, 1…

So how about making that first time in November when you can enjoy all my favorite things—Tennessee whiskey, Southern bites and the Smokies’ fall foliage—all at once via the annual Grains & Grits Festival? Now, that is a trifecta I can support with my every last taste bud.

Win a Pair of Tickets to the First Ever Grains & Grits bourbon festival in the Smoky Mountains of Tennessee!

In collaboration with Smoky Mountains Tourism, a group of whiskey-loving Tennessee folk are putting on the fourth Grains & Grits Festival on Nov. 2 that celebrates craft spirits and gourmet grub in one scenic setting, the heart of Townsend,  nestled within the Smokies.

Grains & Grits in Townsend, Tennessee

You may be wondering who all is participating. Well, from the looks of things, everybody who’s everybody, i.e. every major distillery in Tennessee. I’m sure more than a few of these names will sound familiar:

That’s a whole lot of delicious liquor in one place! But it gets even better.

What’s a festival without plenty of delicious food? A dozen restaurants from Blount County and the surrounding area will be dishing out some of their best food throughout Grains & Grits.

Smoky Mountains in the Fall

And, lastly, what’s bourbon and food without some entertainment and delicious beer to round it all out? There will also be a pair of breweries, a winery and live music to round out the evening.

Smoky Mountains in the Fall

Now, here comes the best part of all: SVV and I are heading back to the Smokies next week for Grains & Grits, and you can come hang with us!

All you have to do is enter your name in the Rafflecopter widget below and tell me this: What’s your favorite spirit? It’s as easy as that! THE CONTEST IS NOW CLOSED.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

If you weren’t fortunate enough to win, you still can purchase Grains & Grits tickets of your own to the one-day festival.

Grains & Grits Whiskey Festival in Tennessee

Looking for more whiskey travel inspiration? Check out our travels down the Tennessee Whiskey Trail:
This post was last updated in October 2019.

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COMMENTS
  • October 16, 2016
    Jennifer

    Woodford Reserve is a favorite at our house!

  • October 16, 2016

    I am VERY new to bourbon but my current favorite is Woodford Reserve Double Oaked. What a fun giveaway!

  • October 16, 2016
    MikeT

    Hard to pick just one but Gentleman Jack

  • October 17, 2016

    Great, that place is looking so good and it is full with natural things. amazing guide you shared about beers.

  • October 17, 2016
    Skye

    Bulleit rye

  • October 17, 2016
    Pamela

    My all time favorite is Woodford Reserve.

  • October 17, 2016
    Derek May

    Gotta go with Weller for favorite bourbon.

  • October 17, 2016
    Erin Schneider

    Basil Hayden’s!

  • October 17, 2016
    Brent McDaniel

    Jefferson’s Ocean is my favorite by far!

  • October 17, 2016
    Hayley Greenhouse

    I don’t know which type is my favorite! But, I would love to find out!

  • October 17, 2016
    Christine

    Honey Jack !!

  • October 17, 2016
    manda

    Buffalo Trace or Woodford Reserve

  • October 17, 2016
    Ris

    My favorite (for now) is bulleit. My husband went to UT Knoxville as well and spent probably every free weekend hiking in the smokies!

  • October 17, 2016

    Woodford Reserve Double Oaked served straight up, and Four Roses in cocktails! I recently returned from a trip through Kentucky and Tennessee and gained a much better appreciation for bourbon – and how amazing it smells while distilling!

  • October 17, 2016
    Christine

    For an everyday, reasonably priced but insanely tasty bourbon you can’t beat Bulleit. For special occasions, I love Four Roses single barrel or Tuthilltown Baby Bourbon.

  • October 17, 2016
    Nancy

    I’m a Makers Mark fan!

  • October 17, 2016

    Wild Turkey! 😉

  • October 17, 2016
    Joanne J.

    Old Forester is is my current fav, but you just can’t beat that Dickel Rye as a steadfast go-to! I see you have it front-and-center. 🙂

  • October 17, 2016
    Mandee

    It’s so hard to choose! But, I’d have to go with Dickel rye if I had to choose!

  • October 18, 2016
    Helois

    My husband likes Makers Mark, but I am undecided.

  • October 18, 2016
    Amanda

    We are Makers fans in my household!

  • October 18, 2016
    Kirk

    Currently, 1792 Single Barrel.

  • October 19, 2016

    Oh man, I’m a Maker’s girl through and through, but when they have the limited edition Mint Julep…look out.

  • October 19, 2016
    Nick Schneider

    My favorite bourbon is Basil Hayden’s with an ice cube!

  • October 19, 2016
    Leticia Reed

    Woodford Reserve-especially their Frosty Four Wood!

  • October 19, 2016

    Bulleit 10 year!

  • October 20, 2016
    Melissa Johnson

    First and foremost, Gentleman Jack. Secondly, Makers Mark. Although, I would like to try more brands!

  • October 20, 2016
    Ginny McCarley

    I won’t turn down any kind of whiskey, but my favorite is probably Woodford Reserve!

  • October 20, 2016
    Susan I

    Woodford Reserve

  • October 20, 2016
    Leslie

    I have no idea what my favorite would be but after reading that blog post, I feel the need to revisit Bourbon!

  • November 4, 2016
    Linda

    Eagle Rare, recently toured Lexington side of Kentucky bourbon trail, a new favorite. Looking forward to festival tomorrow.

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