Anne Holt meets Tennessee’s first and only Master Distiller of Rum

Anne Holt's Tennessee

When you think of rum, you might think of tropical islands in the Caribbean.  

But in Lincoln County Tennessee, Phil Prichard has been making rum for 20 years. 

His small craft distillery is just down the road from the home of Jack Daniels.

Prichard had the idea he could recreate the colonial recipe for rum. He found tiny Kelso Tennessee open to the idea and in 1999 Pritchard’s Distillery produced rum made in Tennessee. 

Now Phil Prichard is living his dream. 

He says, “I’m the only guy in the world that makes a Cranberry run. 

Prichard’s Rum distillery is housed inside the historic Kelso School House and Community Center. 

The old school has four rooms.  The gymnasium serves as a shipping area, filled with bottles and labels and empty boxes waiting to be filled with rum. The basketball goal from the 1939 building still hangs on the wall. 

“We play basketball when things get boring around here,” says Prichard. 

But the job of making Prichard’s Fine Rum leaves little time for hoops. Fermentation, distilling, aging and blending are all completed under Phil’s supervision. 

“We do a batch today, a batch tomorrow and a batch the next day,” he says. 

The result is a variety of Prichard Rums: Key Lime, Peach Mango and Cranberry. 

“Only three ingredients in here,” says Prichard. “There’s a little alcohol, a little sugar and lots of cranberry juice. There’s no preservatives. We don’t add any preservatives.” 

Phil also makes Tennessee whiskey with the same hands-on care he gives his rum. He oversees production of each bottle that leaves the distillery 

“I like to say my standard of excellence is my name on the bottle. 

The name, the bottle and the product inside can be found in all major markets in the United States. 

Prichard was 57 when he convinced critics that he could make rum in Tennessee. That was 20 years ago. He still embraces each day as a new challenge to keep working. 

“The next big event in your life after you retire is called DEATH,” says Phil. “The way to avoid death is just don’t retire. That’s the way I look at it.”

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