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Tennessee Whiskey is One of America's Greatest Spirits

Tennessee whiskey—or, as Jack Daniels and several other producers, including George Dickel, spell it, Tennessee whisky—is one of the single greatest spirits produced in the United States. But what sets it apart from America's other great brown spirits is often a source of confusion. Here's everything you need to know.

What is Tennessee whiskey?

Tennessee whiskey is, of course, whiskey that's distilled and aged in Tennessee. Beyond that, the law requires that it be made of a minimum of 51% corn and adhere to all of the other regulations that guide bourbon production. However, unlike bourbon, it must be filtered through charcoal (usually sugar maple charcoal, and filtering it through this is called the Lincoln County Process) and aged in charred new American oak barrels (which is a bourbon requirement, too).

Is Tennessee whiskey bourbon?

Tennessee whiskey is guided by the same production and composition laws as bourbon. It's sometimes referred to as Tennessee Bourbon Whiskey. Still, there are two requirements to making this bourbon. The first is that it must be distilled and aged in Tennessee (whereas bourbon does not have a single state where it must be legally produced) and that it must be filtered through charcoal, usually sugar maple charcoal, in the Lincoln County Process.

What's the difference between Tennessee whiskey and bourbon?

In terms of production, the difference between Tennessee whiskey and bourbon is the requirement for Tennessee whiskey to be produced in Tennessee and undergo the Lincoln County Process. In terms of flavor, bourbon generally tends to be a bit sweeter, but that is far from universal: Most differences in taste and aroma between bourbon and Tennessee whiskey depend on the brand, mash bill, and length of aging, not the state of production. Both, however, are examples of truly great American whiskey.

What are popular Tennessee whiskies?

The range of Tennessee whiskies is vast and incredibly exciting. Some of them include George Dickel, Uncle Nearest, Pritchards, Nelsons First, and Rollins. Of course, you can't discuss Tennessee whiskey without mentioning the most famous of them all: Jack Daniels.

What is the best Tennessee whiskey?

As with all matters of taste, the best Tennessee whiskey comes down to personal preference. Still, the whiskies of Uncle Nearest have become exceptionally and justifiably popular recently. And George Dickel produces many whiskies, including a Bottled in Bond expression and a delicious Barrel Select. Jack Daniels wows fans with its Gentleman Jack. The category is constantly expanding, and the range of options for Tennessee whiskey fans is as exciting now as ever.

Is Crown Royal a bourbon?

No, Crown Royal is not a bourbon. It's a Canadian whisky, and while it's one of the most famous and reliably excellent examples of Canadian whisky, it is not a bourbon.

Browse our full selection of Tennessee whiskey online or check out our selection of highly-rated Tennessee whiskey for a great new Tennessee whiskey to try this week!

Want to learn more about Tennessee whiskey?

Visit our Guide to Spirits to learn more about Tennessee whiskey.