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International Tennessee Whiskey Day: May 21

Tennessee distillers love to make bourbon but let’s face it, bourbon can be made anywhere in the United States. Tennessee Whiskey however can only be made in Tennessee and now Tennessee Whiskey is getting its own day with the passing of resolution HJR0477.

In the early 1800s, Tennessee was a leading producer of distilled spirits. The state was home to hundreds of registered distilleries until Prohibition. In Tennessee, the Dry’s that were a part of the Temperance movement was successful in banning the production of whiskey in 1910, many years ahead of the Federal ban. After the ban, Tennessee distillers either completely closed up shop, moved to another state, or quietly moved operations to the hills and hollers by the light of the moon. Nine years later on January 9, 1919, Tennessee became the 23rd state to ratify the 18th Amendment that banned the production of spirits across the entire country.

On the flip side, Tennessee was the 19th state to ratify the 21st Amendment calling for the repeal of Prohibition on August 11, 1933. (This was well ahead of its northern border state of Kentucky who was the 33rd state to ratify the repeal on November 27, 1933.) On December 5, 1933, Utah was the 36th state to approve the 21st Amendment providing the required three-fourths vote to officially repeal Prohibition. Tennessee however would remain dry until the state’s repeal of the ban on manufacturing alcoholic beverages in Tennessee on May 21, 1937.

Tennessee has a long, rich history with whiskey-making. Early farm-based distilleries found that Tennessee’s fertile land, water, and climate were ideal for making good whiskey.

Today, Tennessee whiskey is a thriving industry that draws hundreds of thousands of tourists from around the world, generates millions of dollars in tax revenue, and even serves as a popular subject matter for many of the state’s famed musicians and songwriters.

To recognize Tennessee whiskey’s proper place in American distilled spirits history the Tennessee General Assembly adopted a resolution declaring May 21 as International Tennessee Whiskey Day.

“This General Assembly wishes to celebrate and acknowledge the many contributions of our state’s renowned distilling industry, its people, and products that help fuel Tennessee’s economy, and our culture and status as the world’s only producer of Tennessee whiskey.”

Tennessee House Speaker Cameron Sexton in his resolution HJR0477.

“Tennessee Whiskey has such a long and rich history, but it is frequently overshadowed by our northern neighbor, Kentucky Bourbon. So for Tennessee Whiskey to finally be recognized in such a big way and to finally have its “own” day is just thrilling and very rewarding.”

said Tennessee Distillers Guild President and Old Dominick Distillery Master Distiller Alex Castle.
TN HJR0477 
A RESOLUTION commemorating May 21, 2021, as “International Tennessee Whiskey Day.”
 WHEREAS, this General Assembly wishes to celebrate and acknowledge  the many contributions of our State’s renowned distilling industry, its  people and products that help fuel Tennessee’s economy, and our culture  and status as the world’s only producer of Tennessee Whiskey; and

 WHEREAS, early farm-based distilleries in Tennessee date back to the  late 18th century, when settlers traveling west found that our land,  grain, water, and climate were perfect for making good whiskey; and

 WHEREAS, even prior to the Civil War, Tennessee was a leading  producer of whiskey and rightfully secured that position after the  State’s repeal of the ban on manufacturing alcoholic beverages in  Tennessee on May 21, 1937; and

 WHEREAS, our State is home to the nation’s Oldest Registered  Distillery and several other distilleries that date back to the 1800s;  and

 WHEREAS, the Tennessee Distillers Guild includes thirty-one operating  distilleries, representing all three grand divisions of our great  State, with operations in West, Middle, and East Tennessee; and

 WHEREAS, each year, our distilleries generate tens of millions of  dollars in property, income, and sales tax revenue that support the  well-being and growth of local municipalities and our State; and

 WHEREAS, hundreds of thousands of tourists from around the world are  welcomed with open arms at our distilleries, and they contribute to  local, regional, and state economies while they are here; and

 WHEREAS, the Tennessee Whiskey Trail was established in 2017 to help  welcome these visitors and provide information, tips, and other  resources to provide a once-in-a-lifetime whiskey immersion experience  for them; and

 WHEREAS, in 2013, the General Assembly passed legislation that was  signed into law by Governor Bill Haslam that set the definition of  “Tennessee Whiskey” as being made from fermented mash of at least  fifty-one percent corn, aged in new oak barrels, charcoal mellowed, and  produced in the State; and

 WHEREAS, when consumers see “Tennessee Whiskey” on the label, they  know it is a premium product that is made with quality ingredients, the  utmost care, craftsmanship, and character and to a world-class standard;  and

 WHEREAS, the Bourbon and American Whiskey category has experienced  tremendous growth over the last decade and continues to increase in  popularity; and

 WHEREAS, Tennessee Whiskey has long supported another great product  of Tennessee—music, music recording, and songwriting—by inspiring  songwriters and artists, serving as a character and subject matter in  their music, and accompanying performances in honky-tonks, restaurants,  bars, theaters, and arenas throughout Tennessee; and

 WHEREAS, our State’s distilleries and their employees are there to  meet the global demand for Tennessee Whiskey and continue to serve as  global ambassadors for Tennessee in more than 170 countries around the  world; and

 WHEREAS, it is fitting that we pause in our deliberations to honor  and commend all of Tennessee’s distilleries, their workers, and the  generations of families who have gone before them; now, therefore,

that we join with this State’s distilleries and their  employees, both past and present, in commemorating May 21, 2021, as  “International Tennessee Whiskey Day” in respectful recognition and  thanks for their many contributions to our State.

 BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED, that we warmly welcome members of the  Tennessee Distillers Guild, the Tennessee Whiskey Trail, and others to  the seat of the State’s government and extend to them our best wishes  for a pleasant visit on Capitol Hill.

 BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED, that an appropriate copy of this resolution  be prepared for presentation with this final clause omitted from such  copy and upon proper request made to the appropriate clerk, the language  appearing immediately following the State seal appear without House or  Senate designation.
 Signed by Tennessee Governor Bill Lee  05/12/2021

Featured Photo by Marcelo Jaboo from Pexels, Edited by Yojit Sharma

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