Family Heritage of Distilling Spirits
Samuel T. Bryant Distillery sits on a farm that’s been in the family since 1904. Located in Madison County only a half mile off I-40 at Exit 74, this gorgeous facility hosts visitors from all around the USA and beyond. A testament to the warm hospitality and amazing spirits created here, within only two years, the distillery reached the distinction of Trip Advisor’s highest-ranked attraction in the Jackson area.
When Sam Bryant, an arborist (tree doctor) who studied chemical engineering and business needed to make a career change, the decision to create the distillery was an easy one. Sam, already a hobbyist winemaker, took inventory of the skills and assets available. The family farm is conveniently located just off the interstate. They raise corn (essential for moonshine production), and between this farm and another in Haywood County, there was an ample supply of timber needed for construction of the massive barn-style tasting room and in producing moonshine. Sam says there wasn’t a specific “aha moment,” it was just a natural thought progression to decide to start the distillery.
Sam approached his parents with his idea, as they live next door to the area where he wanted to build the distillery. They quickly overcame initial concern about the crowds coming & going, and fully supported Sam’s mission to launch the next phase for the family farming business.
The Distillery is on a 60-acre farm that was part of the 600+ acre parcel originally owned by Sam’s great-grandparents, and divided between their heirs. Cousins who live across the road also agreed that the distillery was a great idea, and in/In 2013 negotiations began to launch Samuel T. Bryant Distillery, also known as STB Distillery. The process of obtaining licensing and permits took almost two years, but that didn’t deter Sam’s resolve to see his dream come to life. Construction of the tasting room began January 2015, and Samuel T. Bryant Distillery officially opened July 2016.
Upon entering the 3600 square foot tasting room, you know you’re in a special place. The ceilings soar to a height of 19.5 feet and are adorned with beautiful rustic iron chandeliers. Walls are lined with polished tongue and groove oak and walnut, harvested from the Bryant's farm and the Madison County area. In the tasting area, there are three wooden bars, each of which was created from a single slab of wood. The most incredible is the 17-foot red oak bar where guests sit for tastings, milled from an 85-year old tree. The gorgeous wood paneling extends even into the women’s restroom, where you’ll find an antique washstand and the buffet that was a 50th-anniversary gift from Sam’s great-grandfather to his great-grandmother.
The entire facility and production process are reflections of Sam Bryant’s dedication to reclaiming and reusing resources. Many of the chandeliers were purchased from Habitat Restore in Jackson, supporting the mission of Habitat for Humanity. The mahogany front doors were obtained when Ruby Tuesday restaurant was demolished; the back doors were purchased when LongHorn Steakhouse was rebuilt, and many of the solid wood chairs are from an Olive Garden remodel. When a 170-year-old white oak tree was felled by lightning, it was milled by the Bryants. White oak wood chips are used in moonshine production, and the irony of “white lightning” made this tree even more special. As far as not being wasteful of natural resources, Sam says, “We try to get all of the squeaks out of the mouse.” The attitude of this true Southern Gentleman serves him well.
The spirits created by Samuel T. Bryant Distillery are diverse. There is moonshine, of course, including traditional Tennessee Moonshine. The most recent creations are Sea Salt Caramel Moonshine and Coffee Moonshine, due to customer requests. Other flavors are Peach, Strawberry, Blueberry, Blackberry, Coconut, and Apple Pie. All ingredients are sourced as locally as possible, with corn grown on the Bryant farm, and fruit purchased from nearby orchards.
Other spirits include Tennessee Sam, the largest seller. It is a fine sipping “whisky" created with a unique process incorporating complex and silky oak notes. TNKILLA was the first agave-based spirit produced in Tennessee. Only products made in Mexico can be called “tequila.” TNKILLA is distilled with agave nectar imported from Mexico, and the result is a smooth, small-batch product that far exceeds the flavor of mass-produced tequila. You’ll also find Tennessee Gin, Grappa (a European brandy-type spirit) and Amaretto Liqueur.
The distillery facility is another massive structure separate from the tasting room. This is where the magic happens, with batches taking from about 24 days for moonshine, to three months to produce TNKILLA. Production equipment includes the copper still, pictured, as well as giant 300-gallon tanks.
These delicious spirits aren’t just for drinking…friends of Samuel T. Bryant Distillery are testing them in recipes. Although not available for purchase, the Blueberry Moonshine Cheesecake was a hit for guests at a dinner hosted at the Distillery, and Whisky Fudge just might be available for purchase there soon. Sam is quick to point out that these tasty treats are for ages 21 and older!
This spectacular facility is available for private parties. Samuel T. Bryant Distillery has hosted class reunions, birthday parties, weddings, rehearsal dinners, family reunions, and more. With dinner seating for up to 120 people, this is the perfect setting for your gathering. The Distillery also hosts local bands and songwriters’ nights. Follow their Facebook page for the schedule of events.
I recommend a tasting trip and tour of STB Distillery. Deciding which favorites to take home will be a challenge because there’s something for every palate. Future plans include having some of the products available in local restaurants and liquor stores, but for now, local residents can taste and purchase them only at the Distillery. Samuel T. Bryant Distillery is open seven days a week, and reservations are not required.
Samuel T. Bryant Distillery
1331 Lower Brownsville Road
Jackson, Tennessee 38301
Monday & Tuesday 10-5
Wednesday – Saturday 10-7