The moonshine business is booming in Gatlinburg…. Legally, that is. And there looks to be some additional competition on the horizon.
Plans are in place to open a third moonshine distillery in Gatlinburg by year end.
Despite a few snags, the Sugarlands Distilling Company project is moving right along despite there being two distilleries already taking up residence downtown.
“It’s difficult to get a distillery licensed, and so we’ve encountered some issues with the city and hopefully we’ve overcome all of those issues right now and now we’re on to getting our state licensing and federal licensing,” said Ned Vickers, developer for the Sugarlands Distilling Company.
As alluded to, the crux of the issue is Sugarland’s close vicinity to Ole Smoky Moonshine Distillery downtown. Distilleries are required be at least 1,000 feet apart according to city ordinances. There are also limits in place as to the number of distilleries that can operate in a city, which currently reads “4”.
According to officials with the city of Gatlinburg, new state law overrides any ordinances that were previously set making it fair game for anyone who wishes to open a distillery no matter how many were established beforehand.
For a number of people, these new measures could be a good thing for Gatlinburg. Two moonshine distilleries less than a block apart could even bring in more tourists to a town that heavily relies on its tourist dollars.
Over the years, many visitors have come to the area solely to purchase moonshine and other regionally-related gifts.
As for the Sugarlands Distilling Company, they’ve got a plan to market its brand of moonshine that will set itself apart from other distilleries. They even hope to break ground within the coming weeks.
“We’re going to have different recipes. We’re going to have a little bit different focus than Ole Smoky does, and we’re also going to plan to start barreling and selling Tennessee Whiskey,” Vickers said.