Tennessee Legend Distillery Provides First-Rate Products and a Fun Atmosphere
By Emily Mook
Tennessee Legend Distillery’s story has several serendipitous moments, one of which may surprise you: the discovery of a kingsnake amidst some barrels in 2017. We’ll get to that in a bit.
The story begins with Jay Holeman and Richard Fraser, who founded the distillery in 2015. The distillery opened its first store on Newport Highway in Sevierville in 2015 and its second store on Winfield Dunn Parkway in 2017. Then, in 2018, the distillery opened a store in Cookeville and a store in Nashville. The latter opportunity came about after Holeman and Fraser met and befriended a Nashville business owner.
The distillery has also grown in terms of its offerings since it first opened.
“We started out with unflavored spirits, moonshines, and flavored whiskeys, and we’ve evolved into doing more aged spirits,” says Kyle Tarwater, Tennessee Legend’s Sales and Marketing Director. “Getting into aging our own bourbon was definitely a huge thing for us.”
The aforementioned fateful discovery of a four-and-a-half foot kingsnake led to the development of one of the distillery’s most popular aged spirits: Tennessee Legend Kingsnake Straight Bourbon Whiskey.
“About six months before were going to release the bourbon, we still didn’t have a name,” Tarwater recalls. “Then, somebody remembered that when we checked our first barrels, we found a kingsnake in the bottom of the barrel racks! Kingsnakes eat rodents and venomous snakes, so they are typically seen as a good omen. They keep the bad stuff away.”
The team decided to fully embrace the reptile theme by developing an embossed, iridescent label that resembles snakeskin. Kingsnake is aged more than two years in a level three char American white oak barrel in house. It is 90 proof, 75% corn, 21% rye, and 4% barley, and it has a soft caramel flavor with faint sweet corn, oak, and vanilla notes.
Tennessee Legend Distillery prides itself just as much on its talented and dedicated staff as on its topnotch products.
“Our production crew is the backbone of everything we do,” says Tarwater. “If there’s no product, there’s absolutely nothing we can do. We’ve got a great production crew and core management team who have been with us for years. We’re a laid-back group, and we try to make our environment a fun place for people to be. When people come in, we don’t rush them to the counter. We let our customers set the pace.”
Tarwater says that he believes the spirits industry is built on good times, and Tennessee Legend is committed to helping facilitate them.
“Some people may use liquor in bad times, but I’ve always seen the spirits industry as being about good times,” he remarks. “It’s about hanging out with your friends, having fun, and hearing and creating stories. Helping someone create that next good memory or tradition is kind of what we live for.”
Be sure to visit Tennessee Legend Distillery at one—or all—of their four locations, and stop by their booth at the Townsend Grains and Grits Festival on Saturday, November 5.
870 Winfield Dunn Pky
Sevierville, TN 37876
2874 Newport Hwy
Sevierville, TN 37876