Corsair Distillery, Something for Everyone
A Commitment to Innovation
One name comes to mind when people hear “Tennessee Whiskey” – Jack Daniel’s. While that brand is known worldwide for its product, its name is known more for consistency than product innovation. Realistically, Jack Daniel’s wouldn’t benefit from being product innovators. Their Old No. 7 is the most widely distributed American whiskey (yes, that includes bourbon) on the market. No, product innovation is best left to those who don’t already fit in a mold. Corsair Artisan Distillery is arguably one of the most innovative craft distillers of the last decade.
Corsair is in its 8th year of operation and owned by long-time friends Darek Bell and Andrew Webber. Home brewers turned business partners, Bell and Webber started their first distillery not in Tennessee Whiskey country, but in bourbon country – Bowling Green, KY. You see, when they launched in 2008, distilling was only legal in three counties in Tennessee. Not long after their opening in Kentucky, Tennessee legislation changed that prohibition-era law and the rest for Corsair is history.
Corsair is more than just a distillery – of which there are currently three. They are also a brewery and malting facility. Generally speaking, Corsair produces most of their Whiskey (Tennessee Whiskey, Bourbon, etc.) in Nashville and most of their clear sprits (Gin, vodka, etc.) in Bowling Green. The original facilities were pretty small, but the latest location in the Wedgewood-Houston neighborhood in Nashville is clearly a step up for the brand and considered their headquarters.
Winners of multiple industry awards from publications like Whisky Advocate, various national spirits competitions, and peer reviewed industry trade groups, Corsair is known primarily for their innovation in Gin and Whiskey. Self-proclaimed “Booze for Badasses”, Corsair tries to deviate from the 200+ year old American Whiskey mold as popularized by Kentucky Bourbon.
Triple Smoke is by far their most popular whiskey. The malt (malted barley grain) is what distinguished Corsair’s whiskey from others. Their unique process of smoking their own malt with three varieties of wood really translates to the palate. The use of peat is a throw-back to Scottish tradition, the beechwood-smoking will be familiar to fans of smoky German beers, and the cherry was simply a nod to the American South. Corsair’s Nashville bourbon and its quinoa whiskey are also gold medal winners and innovative in their own right. You won’t find a traditional Tennessee Whiskey at the distillery, but there’s always a hint and nudge that one may be just around the corner.
Though they may be most known for their whiskey, Corsair certainly has a cult following for their Gin production. Their standard release Gin is made with organic, sustainably sourced botanicals which are infused into the spirit using a vapor basket – a traditional method. This unique process gives the gin its crisp cucumber flavor with floral and white pepper notes. Corsair also produces a Barrel Aged Gin, where they take the botanical gin and age it in used spiced rum barrels for 3-6 months. This process imparts baking spice and vanilla notes to the botanical gin, making for a complex and citrusy spirit. Finally, and a personal favorite, Corsair produces a Genever. Considered to be the precursor to gin, genever is a malt based spirit infused with some of the same botanicals as gin. The result is a spirit rich in juniper and citrus peel flavors, strong like a whiskey but crisp like a gin.
The Tour at Corsair
A tour at any of their locations is a treat, but we at the TN Whiskey Trail Tours enjoy showcasing their newest (and largest) location at Wedgewood-Houston in Nashville. Corsair is not afraid to try something weird. That essence is demonstrated in their tour, which culminates in the tasting room. Genius!
Not everyone can be a Jack Daniel’s Tennessee Whiskey. But as seen by the growth and popularity of Corsair Artisan Spirits, not everyone needs to be. We hope to have you join us for a tour of Corsair and the many other distilleries throughout Tennessee. Come and Tour the Trail with us!
Who: Corsair Artisan Distillery
Where: 601 Merritt Ave, Nashville, TN 37203