NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WKRN) – News 2 recently spoke with Ole Smoky Moonshine’s founder Joe Baker about his newest establishment in South Nashville.
“The process is very much the same as what a moonshiner up in the mountains would’ve done,” said Ole Smoky Moonshine founder Joe Baker. “You can walk on in and you can smell the corn as soon as you open the door.”
The moonshine distillery sits at the back of the compound at Sixth Avenue and Peabody Street near downtown. And while the smell of fermentation is hard to miss, nowadays the process is much more refined than the pre-prohibition days when Baker’s family made moonshine in Appalachia.
Fast forward to 2010 when the laws changed, and the Bakers were able to obtain a license to distill spirits.
“In 2010, we opened the first location in Gatlinburg and quickly became the most visited distillery in the world. We have over four million visitors a year and it’s fun to be able to share a piece of your hometown with the rest of the world,” said Baker. “We’re distributed now in over 50 countries.”
Simply put, Ole Smoky Moonshine took the country by storm.
“There are a lot of pieces of American history that fit into the moonshine culture that I think make it incredibly relevant as far as a piece of Americana,” explained Baker. “Also, the unique area of the country. Appalachia is such a beautiful place with the mountains and the nature that we have to enjoy but, also, I think the culture that developed in Appalachia. You can make moonshine anywhere in the world but it’s really part of the fabric of who we are in Appalachia.”
That local flavor is found in nearly every aspect of the brand.
From the choice of packaging to the corn that Baker’s dad still mills to make their infamous corn whiskey.
“You always wonder how much BS comes from your parents,” said Baker.
That BS became real when the Bakers got a call from Walmart. The retailer wanted to start selling Ole Smoky Moonshine in stores, turning the Baker family business into the largest craft distillery in the country.
“You’re going to taste an original moonshine product at 100 proof when you try this one,” Baker said as he swirled a mini mason jar of moonshine.
In an ode to the Baker family folklore, Joe created his personal favorite, 128 proof Blue Flame moonshine.
“If you were to take a little bit of moonshine, put it on a spoon and light it on fire, the flame would turn blue. So, to represent that, we came up with the idea of the blue-flame moonshine,” Baker explained.
But if you’re looking from something a little tamer, you can find nearly every flavor under the Tennessee sun from strawberry-mango moonshine to mountain java.
“When we started Ole Smoky, we wanted it to be an authentic experience, so the flavors were real, they were authentic and they were things you’d see at a Christmas or a birthday party in the mountains, so apple pie, peach, blackberry and from there, things started getting a little out of hand,” said Baker.
The Ole Smoky Moonshine is located near downtown Nashville and is opened Monday through Friday from 11 a.m. to 11 p.m., and Saturday and Sunday from 10 a.m. to 11 p.m.