The second annual Grains and Grits event, a festival of Southern spirits and gourmet grub, will bring together whiskey lovers from around the state for the East Tennessee celebration of the new Tennessee Whiskey Trail, a 26-stop distillery tour across the state of Tennessee organized by the Tennessee Distiller’s Guild. All 26 distilleries will gather for the celebration at the Townsend Visitors’ Center on Saturday, Nov. 4.
The festival showcases Tennessee whiskey legends, such as Jack Daniel Distillery in Lynchburg and George Dickel Distillery in Tullahoma, as well as craft distilleries like Old Forge Distillery in Pigeon Forge, Old Glory Distilling Co. in Clarksville and H Clark Distillery in Thompson’s Station.
“This will be a huge event not only for those in the Tennessee whiskey community, but also for whiskey enthusiasts everywhere,” said Tennessee Distillers Guild President Kris Tatum, who is also general manager of Old Forge Distillery in Pigeon Forge, Tennessee. “There really is nothing like the Tennessee Whiskey Trail anywhere else, and we’re excited for Grains and Grits to serve as the East Tennessee kickoff for the Trail.”
Grains and Grits will be the second kickoff event celebrating the Tennessee Whiskey Trail. The first was held on the Trail’s launch day, June 19, at The Factory in Franklin. Serving as mainly a media event, the Trail and this event gained national coverage, spurring interest across the country.
Grains and Grits is being arranged and hosted by the Tennessee Distillers Guild and the Smoky Mountain Tourism Development Authority.
“We are thrilled to be hosting this event for the second year in a row,” said SMTDA Director of Tourism Kim Mitchell. “We are even more thrilled that it can serve as the East Tennessee kickoff for the Tennessee Whiskey Trail. With all of the excitement building around the Trail, the event should have a new energy this year.”
While Tennessee whiskey serves as the event’s focus, there will also be several area restaurants, breweries, local winery Cades Cove Cellars and a boutique cigar lounge featured.
This year’s event will also welcome stars from the hit Discovery television show “Moonshiners,” Mark Ramsey, Digger Manes, Mark Rogers and Patti Bryan. Attendees will have the opportunity to meet and take a picture with the group.
Jeff Arnett, master distiller at Jack Daniel Distillery, attended last year’s Grains and Grits and is excited to be coming back again this year to celebrate the launch of the Trail.
“Last year was the first Grains and Grits Festival, and it was a fantastic event” Mr. Arnett said. “I expect this year's festival to be bigger and better than ever, and I'm excited to be returning to Townsend. It's a great evening to meet with Jack Daniel's fans and to also celebrate Tennessee's whiskey-making heritage with fellow distillers from around our beautiful state."
Grains and Grits will be open from 6- 9 p.m. with parking opening at 5 p.m. The Townsend Visitors’ Center is located at 7906 East Lamar Alexander Parkway in Townsend. Tickets for Grains and Grits are $65 online at GrainsAndGritsFest.com or $75 the day of the event. Online purchase is suggested as there are a limited number of tickets. The website also includes additional event information, such as a full list of distilleries, venue details and more.
Sponsors for Grains and Grits include MGP, Brooks Grain, Silo Cigars and Robert D. Pinson.
The weekend will also provide an opportunity for visitors to stay overnight, visit some of the East Tennessee Distillers along the Trail and relax in Townsend and the Blount County area for the weekend.
“We hope that Grains and Grits visitors will take advantage of this opportunity to experience the restaurants, distilleries, accommodations and outdoor activities The Peaceful Side of the Smokies has to offer,” Mitchell said. “From hiking, biking, antiquing and plenty of Southern cuisine, Townsend and Blount County have something for everyone to enjoy and plenty to fill up your weekend.”
For those looking to begin their journey on the Tennessee Whiskey Trail while in town for Grains and Grits, passports and more information for the Trail can be picked up at the Townsend Visitors Center or the Blount County Chamber of Commerce / Blount Partnership. There are also several Trail distilleries in the area for participants to visit, including Post Modern Spirits Distilling in Knoxville, Thunder Road Distillery in Kodak, Tennessee Legend Distillery in Sevierville, Ole Smoky Barn in Pigeon Forge, Old Forge Distillery in Pigeon Forge, Sugarlands Distilling Company in Gatlinburg, Cocke County Moonshine Distillery in Newport, Doc Collier Moonshine in Gatlinburg, Knox Whiskey Works in Knoxville and Bootleggers Distillery in Hartford.
More information about The Peaceful Side of the Smokies, where to stay, where to eat and what to do can be found at SmokyMountains.org.
For more information about the Tennessee Whiskey Trail, visit TNWhiskeyTrail.com.