Tennessee is home to one of the most famous whiskey makers in the country, but Memphis (via a nearby town called Kelso) is home to liquor that is a bit more refined. In 1997, former Memphian Phil Prichard began his maneuverings around obscure liquor laws to distill rum. It’s in his blood. Phil is a descendant of Benjamin Prichard, who crafted Tennessee whiskey in Davidson County in the 1800s.
Phil originally wanted to make use of the local sorghum, a sugar-producing grass, but rum requirements demand that it be made with sugarcane. So, in an old schoolhouse in Kelso, Tennessee, Phil developed a sugarcane-based rum in 2001. The product line has increased to include whiskey, a double-barreled bourbon, and a number of specialty liqueurs including spiced rum, a whiskey-cream, and the decadent chocolate bourbon.
Specializing in small batches and hand blending, Prichard’s reverence toward traditional techniques is evident. He uses copper stills, white oak barrels, and proper ageing to produce smooth, sweet-sipping libations. This isn’t the light-your-hair-on-fire moonshine or rot-gut that accompanies some stereotypes. This is class in a glass.
A renewed focus on local ingredients, artisans, and crafts in Memphis has sparked an influx of craft breweries, cocktail mixologists, in-house infusions, and attention to the subtle taste of hand-crafted. Sure, you can drink the commercially produced liquor that the rest of the country is drinking. Or, you can pour a glass of something that is uniquely Memphis.