When temperatures drop and winter weather sweeps through the Western North Carolina Smokies, it’s time to warm up from the inside out. 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 get to taste some of the area’s best moonshine and whiskey when you visit. Plus, there are amazing wineries and craft breweries in these hills as well.
So, when snowflakes swirl across the peaks and your breath hangs in the air, get into the winter spirit with a winter spirit. Check out these top spots to find moonshine in Maggie Valley and get ready to heat up what’s in your cup.
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 delicious flavors of whiskey and moonshine, take the stage for karaoke on Thursday evenings or enjoy live music on Friday and Saturday nights.
Belly up to the bar at this award-winning distillery in Asheville, NC. Eda Rhyne Distilling Company is keeping Smoky Mountain moonshine history alive with small batch spirits that showcase the spirit of Southern Appalachian folk. They source local heirloom corn and grains, which give their whisky a uniquely North Carolina twist. Warm up with flavors like Appalachian Fernet, Amaro Flora, and Rustic Nocino. They are also committed to minimizing their environmental impact by recycling processed water and reusing solid organic waste as fertilizer to grow the botanicals used in their recipes.
The Smoky Mountain moonshine at Howling Moon will warm you up quick! Their corn whisky is 100-proof, and you’ll feel it from the inside out. Made with a recipe that’s been passed down through generations (at least 150 years), they use local corn grown specifically for Howling Moon by the same farm that grew corn for Popcorn Sutton. So, you know you’re getting something really special. Try delicious flavors like their Apple Pie moonshine made with cinnamon and fresh apples, Strawberry Moonshine made with all-natural strawberries, or the Peach Moonshine made with fresh, local peaches.
Raise a glass of award-winning whisky, rum, or gin at Cultivated Cocktails. This family-run distillery blends art and science to create some of the most delicious spirits near Maggie Valley and throughout the Smoky Mountains. Their Steel Horse Whisky is aged with three different proprietary methods, and each batch is slowly rolled in the barrels for 2,000 miles, resulting in flavors that are truly unique. If you want to add a little sweetness to your hot toddy, try their Asheville Creme de Cacao. It’s made with Nicaraguan cacao nibs from the nearby French Broad Chocolate Lounge and blended to perfection. It’s a chocolate lover’s dream!
If moonshine isn’t your thing, then toast the season with award-winning wine, locally crafted at one of Maggie Valley’s finest wineries. Visit B&C Winery at 2427 Soco Road, right down the street from the Meadowlark Motel! Choose from classic reds, whites, and dessert wines, or ask for a specialty wine and be amazed as they customize your very own bottle.
If craft beer is what you’re looking for, Frog Level Brewing is just a short drive away from Maggie Valley in neighboring Waynesville, NC, the county seat of Haywood County. With nearby Asheville being crowned ‘Beer City USA,’ there are plenty of craft breweries in the area, but there’s something special about Frog Level Brewing. Their amazing location right on the creek is the perfect spot to wrap up in your winter finest and sip one of their signature brews as live music drifts from their cozy bar. The ‘Bug Eyed Stout’ is a local favorite!
Learn more about Smoky Mountain Moonshine on this episode of the Gateway to the Smokies Podcast, where host (and owner of the Meadowlark Motel), 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!