How To Drink Tennessee Whiskey – Audio

Tennessee Whiskey might not always get the spotlight like Bourbon or those classic Scotches, but it definitely deserves a prime spot in your drinks cabinet. It’s got this unique smooth vibe and a sweet, charred flavor that comes from its special way of being made. This stuff really stands out in the world of spirits and holds its own as a top-notch drink category. You’ve got your Single Barrel, Small Batch, and the classic Tennessee Sour Mash – each one bringing its own flavor to the table.

Digging into Tennessee Whiskey, you’ll find a whole range of tastes, distillation techniques, cool bits of history, and even tips on what foods to pair them with. We’re going to explore all these angles and really get into what makes Tennessee Whiskey a global favorite.

What is Tennessee Whiskey

Tennessee Whiskey is a distinct category of American whiskey, primarily produced in the state of Tennessee, renowned for its smooth, sweet profile. It adheres to stringent production criteria similar to bourbon but includes a unique step known as the Lincoln County Process, where the spirit is filtered through or steeped in charcoal chips before aging. This process imparts a mellow character and removes impurities, resulting in a whiskey that is both rich in flavor and smooth in finish.

Tennessee Whiskey must be made from at least 51% corn, aged in new, charred oak barrels, and distilled within the state to earn its name. These regulations ensure each bottle reflects the heritage and quality the region is celebrated for.

Choosing the Right Tennessee Whiskey

Selecting the ideal Tennessee Whiskey hinges on understanding three critical aspects: accolades, age, and flavor profile. Accolades can guide you towards highly regarded bottles, recognized for exceptional quality in the whiskey community. Age is another determinant; older whiskeys often exhibit deeper, more complex flavors due to extended barrel aging.

However, age alone doesn’t define quality—some younger whiskeys boast vibrant, nuanced profiles. Lastly, considering the flavor profile is vital. Tennessee Whiskeys range from sweet and smooth to spicy and robust.

Identifying your preference in these flavor dimensions can significantly enhance your whiskey experience, ensuring you select a bottle that resonates with your palate.

Guide on selecting Tennessee whiskey by accolades, age, flavor.
How to Drink Tennessee Whiskey – Three Ways to Choose the Right Tennessee Whiskey

By Accolades

Choosing a Tennessee Whiskey based on accolades involves looking for bottles that have received awards or high ratings from reputable sources. These recognitions serve as a testament to the whiskey’s quality and craftsmanship, often awarded by expert panels at competitions or by whiskey enthusiasts in publications. Opting for an acclaimed whiskey can provide assurance of its excellence and distinctiveness.

By Age

The age of a Tennessee Whiskey can significantly influence its character. Generally, the longer a whiskey ages, the more complex and deep its flavors become, as it has more time to interact with the oak barrels. However, it’s important to note that a higher age statement doesn’t always equate to a better taste.

Some whiskeys reach their peak flavor profile at a younger age. It’s about finding the right balance that suits your taste preferences.

By Flavor Profile

The flavor profile of Tennessee Whiskey varies widely, offering a spectrum from sweet vanilla and caramel notes to spicy, oaky undertones. When selecting based on flavor profile, consider what tastes appeal to you most. Do you prefer a smoother, sweeter whiskey, or are you drawn to bold, spicy flavors?

Understanding the primary flavor components of a whiskey can help you make a choice that aligns with your personal preferences, ensuring a satisfying sipping experience.

Preparing to Drink Tennessee Whiskey

Before indulging in the rich flavors of Tennessee Whiskey, proper preparation is key to fully appreciate its depth and complexity. Glassware plays a crucial role, with a tulip-shaped glass being ideal for concentrating aromas and enhancing the tasting experience. Dilution can also be considered; a few drops of water may open up the whiskey, revealing subtle flavors and aromas otherwise masked when neat.

Lastly, the decision between ice or no ice can alter the whiskey’s profile significantly. While ice cools and dilutes, allowing for a smoother sip, it may also mute some of the intricate flavors, guiding the preference towards sipping it neat or with minimal water to truly savor the whiskey’s character.

Guide on whiskey glassware, water dilution, and ice use.
How to Drink Tennessee Whisky – Preparing to Drink Tennessee Whisky


Choosing the right glassware is essential for experiencing the full range of flavors and aromas in Tennessee Whiskey. A tulip-shaped glass, such as a Glencairn, is often recommended. Its design helps to concentrate the whiskey’s aromatics, allowing for a more nuanced tasting experience.

The narrow opening minimizes alcohol evaporation and directs the aroma to your nose, enhancing every sip.


Dilution with a small amount of water can unlock hidden flavors in Tennessee Whiskey. Adding a few drops of water to your whiskey can reduce the alcohol’s dominance on your palate and nose, making the subtle flavors and aromas more perceptible. This practice, often embraced by whiskey connoisseurs, can reveal a spectrum of flavors, from sweet caramel to rich oak, that might not be as apparent in a neat pour.

Ice or No Ice

The decision to add ice or no ice to Tennessee Whiskey can significantly impact the drinking experience. Ice cools the whiskey and, as it melts, dilutes the spirit, which can make it more approachable for some drinkers by softening the alcohol burn. However, chilling whiskey too much can suppress some of its complex flavors and aromas.

For those looking to explore the full depth of the whiskey’s profile, enjoying it neat or with a splash of water might be preferable.

How To Properly Taste Tennessee Whiskey

Tasting Tennessee Whiskey is an art that involves a careful examination of its nose, palate, and finish. Starting with nosing the whiskey, it’s crucial to appreciate the bouquet of aromas without the alcohol overwhelming your senses. This step unveils the first layer of complexity.

Moving on to assessing the palate, the whiskey reveals its true character, where flavors ranging from sweet to smoky come to life. Finally, admiring the finish involves noting the aftertaste and the lasting impressions it leaves, which could range from mellow to intensely flavorful. Each of these stages offers a deeper insight into the whiskey’s quality and craftsmanship, making the tasting process both educational and enjoyable.

Guide to tasting whiskey with evaluation steps.
How to Drink Tennessee Whisky – How to Taste Tennessee Whisky

Nosing The Whiskey

Nosing the whiskey is the initial step in the tasting process, crucial for identifying the array of aromas. Gently swirl the whiskey in the glass to release its volatile compounds. Bring the glass to your nose and take a soft, slow inhale.

Look for the primary scents, such as vanilla, caramel, or smokiness, and note any subtler aromas that emerge. This stage sets the stage for flavor expectations and enhances the overall tasting experience.

Assessing The Palate

Once you’ve acquainted yourself with the whiskey’s aroma, assessing the palate involves taking a small sip and letting it coat your mouth. This moment is where the whiskey expresses its full flavor profile. Pay attention to the initial flavors on the tongue, the development of those flavors as the whiskey sits in your mouth, and how they interact.

Is it sweet, spicy, or perhaps fruity? The complexity of Tennessee Whiskey unfolds in this crucial phase, offering a rich tapestry of tastes.

Admiring The Finish

Admiring the finish is about appreciating the whiskey’s aftertaste and the lingering sensations it leaves behind. After swallowing, note the flavors that remain in your mouth and how long they persist. A good finish will leave a satisfying, often evolving aftertaste that may reveal flavors not immediately apparent on the palate.

This final step in the tasting process provides valuable insights into the whiskey’s balance, complexity, and overall quality.

Best Cocktails For Tennessee Whiskey

Tennessee Whiskey, with its rich and versatile flavor profile, serves as an excellent base for a variety of cocktails. From the refreshing Tennessee Sour that balances the whiskey’s sweetness with tart lemon juice, to the iconic Lynchburg Lemonade that offers a fizzy, sweet-and-sour experience, these cocktails highlight the spirit’s adaptability. The Tennessee Mule introduces a spicy kick with ginger beer, while the Maple Old Fashioned adds a twist to the classic cocktail by incorporating the smooth sweetness of maple syrup.

Each cocktail not only complements but also elevates the inherent flavors of Tennessee Whiskey, making them perfect for both newcomers and seasoned aficionados looking to explore the spirit’s mixability.

Guide to best Tennessee whiskey cocktails.
How to Drink Tennessee Whiskey – Best Cocktails for Tennesee Whiskey

Tennessee Sour

The Tennessee Sour is a classic cocktail that showcases the smooth, sweet characteristics of Tennessee Whiskey, contrasted with the sharpness of fresh lemon juice. A touch of simple syrup balances the acidity, while a dash of egg white (optional) adds a silky texture to the drink. This cocktail is a testament to the versatility of Tennessee Whiskey, offering a refreshing and tangy flavor profile that enhances the whiskey’s natural sweetness.

Lynchburg Lemonade

Lynchburg Lemonade combines Tennessee Whiskey with lemonade and a splash of triple sec, creating a refreshing and slightly citrusy cocktail. Named after the hometown of a famous Tennessee Whiskey distillery, this drink is perfect for hot summer days, providing a sweet and sour experience that’s both invigorating and satisfying. The addition of lemon-lime soda adds a fizzy component, making it an irresistible choice for those seeking a thirst-quenching beverage.

Tennessee Mule

A Southern twist on the classic Moscow Mule, the Tennessee Mule substitutes vodka with Tennessee Whiskey, adding a warm and rich depth to the cocktail. Mixed with ginger beer and a squeeze of lime juice, this cocktail delivers a spicy kick with a refreshing finish. The Tennessee Mule is often served in a copper mug, which keeps the drink cold and enhances its spicy, citrusy flavors, making it a favorite among whiskey lovers.

Maple Old Fashioned

The Maple Old Fashioned is a delightful variation of the traditional Old Fashioned, incorporating maple syrup as a sweetener instead of sugar. This substitution brings a unique, smooth sweetness that complements the robust flavors of Tennessee Whiskey. A few dashes of bitters add complexity and depth, rounding out the cocktail’s profile.

The Maple Old Fashioned is an elegant and warming drink, perfect for sipping on a cool evening, showcasing the whiskey’s versatility in classic cocktails with a twist.