Discovering a Lost History in Williamson County 6

Leiper’s Fork Distillery Recapturing 
the “Spirit” of a Forgotten Generation.

History, passion, honor, and tradition are a selection of words that define Lee Kennedy, Proprietor and Master Distiller at Leiper’s Fork Distillery.

At the age of 16, a copper still sketched on a cocktail napkin sparked a passion inside Kennedy, who sought to learn the history behind distillation in Williamson County and the science behind crafting spirits.

A career in distilling remained a dream for him until the state legislature passed a new law in 2009, allowing distilleries to, once again, plant roots in the historic land of Williamson County. With the support of friends and family, Kennedy set out to seek approval from neighbors and the local government. After years of preparation, his dream becomes a reality when Leiper’s Fork Distillery opens its doors in October.

Located in a 200-year-old log cabin, the small batch distillery sits on 27 acres in Leiper’s Fork. The distillery prides itself on recapturing the lost history of distillation in Williamson County. After completing extensive research, Kennedy discovered there were seven distilleries located in Williamson County in 1850.

“We had 23 years of prohibition. Before then, there were nearly 200 distilleries in Tennessee,” Kennedy says. “We are recapturing the lost history of small batch distilling.”

Kennedy draws inspiration from early 1800s settlers who traveled the Natchez Trace distilling and trading whiskey. Because of this, Leiper’s Fork Distillery will launch its Old Natchez Trace Brand white whiskey, priding itself on the tradition and history of original Williamson County settlers.

“For them, it was part of everyday life,” says Kennedy. “Most of our fathers drank bourbon, not because it was trendy, but because they wouldn’t contemplate drinking anything else.”

The Old Natchez Trace Brand white whiskey is handcrafted using grains grown along the Harpeth River as well as local water. It is a combination of limestone filtered water, corn, rye, and malted barley, filtered through sugar maple charcoal produced on-site.

In addition to the Old Natchez Trace Brand, Leiper’s Fork Distillery will produce barrels of a bourbon and Tennessee whiskey that will age for 5-7 years. Since this will not be available for some time, Kennedy will bring back the pre-prohibition label of J.H. Womack & Bros. in collaboration with Dave Scheurich, a world-renowned master distiller, producing a White Maple Tennessee Whiskey.

Leiper’s Fork Distillery offers tours, tastings, and access to their on-site retail store. For more information, visit

3381 Southall Rd.

Franklin, Tennessee 37064