There are no shortages of breweries and whiskey distilleries in and around Nashville, which means there are plenty of booze and beer friendly tours for which to imbibe while wandering the south. This weekend I toured one of the most creative distilleries in town, Corsair.
What first drew me to Corsair was how crafty and inventive the company gets with both their award winning whiskies, gins, rums, and vodkas as well as their cocktail creations. Always experimenting, you’ll taste flavors in their gin from the ever present juniper to refreshingly crisp cucumber. Or their vanilla vodka, which is simply made with vanilla beans steeped in vodka rather than laced with thick processed syrups. After the tour I sampled some of their monthly rotating cocktails including a drink with “salad” aptly incorporated into the name made in part with arugula. I never thought arugula would be good in a drink. Now, I can assure you it is.
But before I made it to the cocktails, I first made it to the building in Marathon Village, home to Corsair’s Nashville distillery. Also home to the famed Antique Archeology, known from the American Pickers TV show, Marathon Village is housed in the old Marathon Motor Works building. Marathon Motor Works grew out of an engine and boiler manufacturing company and into manufacturing the Marathon Automobile during the early 20th century. Now home to numerous commercial renters including the Bang Candy Company, a winery, and artisan shops of every variety, the building has found successful revitalization. Plus, the historic interior still boasts original old wood columns and brick walls, and includes photographs and artifacts from the once great car company. The building is truly worth exploring inside and out before or after your tour.
The tour itself begins in the Corsair tap room. Yes, they are both a distillery and a brewery. In fact, the location at Marathon Village will be transitioning into a full scale brewery facility for the company while the distillery is moving to a larger space to allow for multiple bars and more experimentation. The new location is expected to open in fall of 2015, which means I’ll be following up in autumn to update this post on the new home. For now you can view the current Nashville Corsair distillery location in its original home including its 100 year old still.
Clocking in at only about 30 minutes, the tour is informative and brief. You’ll learn both the basics of distilling liquor and the unique processes Corsair uses to create their fantastic booze without being put to sleep with unnecessary facts and details. There is also plenty of time to ask questions for the more curious. After the tour and viewing the production space including their experimentation lab, (a corner of the facility that reminds me of an apothecary complete with a warehouse cat), it’s on to the tasting. I got to sample six Corsair liquors, which consisted of their vanilla vodka, gin, rum, and three different whiskies. It’s clear why Corsair has won so many awards after tasting these spirits. The gin was definitely my favorite and probably one of the best gins I’ve ever had.
The Nashville Corsair Distillery tour gets two thumbs up for best things to do in Nashville. It’s definitely worth the wander.
What To Know Before You Go
- $2 tour (for designated drivers. We thank you.)
- $8 tour + tasting
- $10 tour + tasting + souvenier glass of your choosing
- Tuesday thru Friday– 3:30pm, 4:30pm, 5:30pm, 6:30pm
- Saturday and Sunday– 12:30pm, 1:30pm, 2:30pm, 3:30pm, 4:30pm
- Parking– for drivers, there is plenty of free street parking
- Bus— the 25 will get you just about a block away; the 10, 17, and 50 will drop off a few blocks south on Charlotte
- Check Corsair’s website in advance to make reservations. These tours fill up on the weekends, so you don’t want to miss your spot. I found five days in advance is typically plenty to secure your tour time.
- Since you pay for the tour and tasting at the end rather than when you book, some reservations don’t always show up. If you aren’t able to get reservations, head over anyway and get your name on the waiting list. There is plenty to see and do at Marathon Village so you can still possibly score a tour spot without being bored while you wait.
- Only interested in the tasting and don’t care so much about the distilling process? The tour is definitely worth the small price tag, but if you just want some boozy samples or the tour is completely booked, the folks at Corsair can usually accomodate some extra folks during the tasting portion of the tours. Just ask the friendly bartender when you arrive.
- Corsair’s crafty staff create a new menu of cocktails each month and you don’t have to take a tour to try them. They have a taproom and a great patio. Plus, these tasty drinks ring in at only $8. Not only are these the best cocktails I’ve had in Nashville, they’re also the best for your budget.
- Unlike everywhere else in Nashville, you can still buy a bottle of booze here on Sunday. Booyah!