If you’re in the Smokies on (or around) New Year’s Eve, there’s no better way to celebrate the hope and possibility of what’s to come than by toasting the future with a glass of the best Smoky Mountain moonshine you’ve ever had!

The Smoky Mountains have long been known as a moonshiner’s paradise, and that history runs deep. Remote caves and hard to reach spots high up in the mountains are littered with abandoned remnants of stills from a century ago.

When laws changed and moonshine was brought out into the daylight, legal distilleries popped up all throughout the mountains. Now you can imbibe in some of the area’s best moonshine and whiskey when you visit. So, when the clock strikes midnight, head to one of these top spots and ring in the new year with a hot toddy and live music!

Ole Smoky Moonshine

Tennessee’s first legal (and largest) moonshine distillery is Ole Smoky. With two locations in Gatlinburg and one in Pigeon Forge, they have made a lasting mark as a leader in moonshine and whiskey production. Featuring over 20 different types of Smoky Mountain moonshine, there’s something for everyone at Ole Smoky. Sample flavors like Apple Pie, Sweet Tea, Cinnamon, and Eggnog. Or try their 16 whiskey varieties from 35 to 100 proof that will keep you warm during the cold winter months. Go with a classic straight bourbon whiskey or have some fun with a mango habanero or peanut butter whiskies. Take a behind-the-scenes tour to see how the moonshine’s made, and stick around for free concerts, where you just might hear big-name acts like Easton Corbin or the Soggy Bottom Boys.

Sugarlands Distilling Company

Belly up to the bar at this award-winning distillery in Gatlinburg, TN. Sugarlands is keeping Tennessee’s moonshine history alive with a modern twist. They stay true to their roots by following traditional heritage recipes dating back to the classic Smoky Mountain moonshine days, while adding in fresh flavors for the more contemporary palates. Take a still house tour to go behind the scenes for a first-hand look at the art and science of distilling, then finish off with a tasting. Warm up with their time-tested classics, or try original flavors like Blueberry Muffin, Maple Bacon, or Apple Pie. Afterwards, hang around on the back patio for some free live music from talented local bands and touring acts.

Old Forge Distillery

Inspired by Pigeon Forge’s historic past – and the iron forge from which the city gets its name – Old Forge Distillery produces moonshine made from the area’s pure mountain spring water and freshly ground grains. Their signature drink, 1830 Original Unaged Corn Moonshine, pays homage to the year that the area’s historic grist mill was built. Their copper column stills make innovative small batch spirits, extracting the grain’s natural flavors that result in award-winning moonshine. Try the Oatmeal Cookie, Vanilla Bean, or French Toast. You can also sip bourbon, rum, vodka, and cream liqueur at their tasting bar. Be sure to stop by the gift store before you leave to pick up a handcrafted moonshine jug or hand forged knife made by the resident blacksmith.

Doc Collier Distillery

Named after local legendary bootlegger, William “Doc” Collier, this unassuming distillery in Gatlinburg is part distillery, part tasting room, and all delicious spirit. Doc, born in 1878 on English Mountain, got his nickname from selling his moonshine for medicinal purposes. His “mountain dew” was known as the best in the area due to his use of English Mountain’s fresh spring water. In fact, all of the moonshine at Doc Collier’s Distillery starts from that very same water source, which his family still owns the rights to today.  Warm up inside this old country store atmosphere with unaged corn whiskey flavors like Greenbrier Apple, Blackberry, and Firecracker.

Elevated Mountain Distilling Company

With a nod to Haywood County’s median elevation of 3,600 feet (the highest of any county in the eastern US), Elevated is run by third generation whiskey makers, Dave and Sue Angel. For decades, moonshiners have taken advantage of the high-altitude pristine mountain springs to produce some of the purest moonshine in the Smoky Mountains. And now you can tour the corn-to-whiskey process at Elevated to learn how it’s made. Their custom pot and towering 23-foot column still take the process to the next level. In addition to tours and tastings of whiskey and moonshine, take the stage for karaoke on Thursday evenings or enjoy live music on Friday and Saturday nights.

King’s Family Distillery

Right outside of Pigeon Forge, TN, you’ll find King’s Family Distillery, run by husband and wife team Justin and Cara King. They have masterfully combined the science of distillation with the art of finishing whiskey and come up with award-winning and delicious flavors like their bold blackberry whiskey or their King’s American whiskey that’s great served over ice or mixed in a hot toddy to keep you warm on New Year’s Eve.

Tennessee Legend Distillery

Arriving on the Smoky Mountain moonshine scene in 2015, Tennessee Legend Distillery started making legends of its own with their powerful and award-winning 100 proof White Lightning moonshine. But if you like something a little sweeter in your glass, try their silky-smooth Salted Caramel Whiskey to warm you up. They’re also serving up cream liqueurs like Bananas Foster and Creme Brulee. Whatever you pick, you can’t go wrong.

Bootleggers Distillery

This small family-owned Smoky Mountain distillery in Hartford, TN embraces its customers as if they were part of the family too. When you walk in you’ll be greeted by an employee/family member, ranging from 14th to 16th generation distillers. The pride they put into their work results in some of the best Smoky Mountain moonshine you’ll find in East Tennessee and beyond.

Smith Creek Moonshine

Located in the Tanger Outlets in Pigeon Forge, you can get in on those post-holiday sales before ringing in the new year with a moonshine tasting at Smith Creek. Sample their classic flavors like Straight and Apple Pie, or opt for a more unique twist with their Sweet Tea, Chocolate Silk, or Lemon Lime. Then after the tasting buy a few bottles to take with you and keep the celebration going at home.

Learn more about Smoky Mountain Moonshine on this episode of the Gateway to the Smokies Podcast, where host, Joseph McElroy talks with Dave Angel of Elevated Mountain Distillery about his personal take on whiskey and the traditions of moonshine in the Smoky Mountains!