Friday, September 09, 2016

Ole Smoky Tennessee Moonshine

When the Wall Street Journal writes this about a brand, it’s time to pay attention

“Everybody likes to tout that they’re original and authentic,” said Joe Baker, Ole Smoky’s co-founder. “The reality is that we are.” ... The Smokies have been a haven for illicit moonshine production since at least the 18th century, when a wave of Scots-Irish immigrants brought over traditions of making whiskey by fermenting corn and other grains...


It looks as old as the hills, but it’s only been around for 6 years – and that’s probably because of its founder. Joe Baker was a criminal lawyer living in east Tennessee where his ancestors had been among the earliest white settlers. When the state of Tennessee opened up its distilling laws in 2010, Baker established Ole Smoky Tennessee Moonshine. Here’s the story on

Moonshine is in Baker’s blood. His roots date back to the earliest settlers of Eastern Tennessee. The forested Smoky Mountains were a canopy for Baker’s ancestors and other moonshine distillers, many of them immigrants from Scotland and Ireland who settled there for its familiar terrain...


I had seen some of their advertising before we went to the USA in July, so, knowing we were going to be near Gatlinburg, we visited their new distillery and retail outlet at Pigeon Forge. Pics of our visit are below. The quality of the branding is so strong that you just know that it's more than a facade, more than just an image. It's the best retail 'brand experience' I've ever encountered. Absolutely spectacular.

It’s now the most-visited distillery in America with sales approaching $50m per year. Joe Baker has gone on to set up the Yee Haw Brewing Company, and a new line of Ole Smoky Whiskeys, the result of a merger with Davy Crockett Tennessee Whiskey. 

As it says on their jars, Shine Responsibly. And I had to buy a t-shirt.

I sent an email to Ole Smoky a few days after we got home. I had an idea for them. I hope it got forwarded to Joe Baker. Joe, feel free to get in touch!

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