Tennessee whiskey has a rich history. It’s so ingrained in the culture that Chris Stapleton even wrote a song about it, singing “you’re as smooth as Tennessee whiskey.” It’s no wonder Grains & Grits, a festival of southern spirits and gourmet grub that draws whiskey lovers from across the region, has grown in popularity. On November 3, 2018, the festival will return to Townsend, a quaint and scenic town nestled in the Great Smoky Mountains of East Tennessee.

Grains & Grits will continue to have a focus on whisky, attracting distillers from across the state to celebrate the culture of whiskey, spirits and distilling. However, this year, the festival will introduce an added emphasis on food, highlighting the area’s unique culinary offering and ensuring guests are satiated.

Chefs from throughout the region will team up with distillers to demonstrate how whiskey can be used as a culinary ingredient, providing tastings for attendees. The tastings are included in the Grains & Grits festival ticket price, but for attendees who would like dinner-sized portions of their favorite fare, additional $10 food tickets will be available for purchase at the event.

Dancing Bear Lodge Executive Chef Shelley Cooper is spearheading the culinary aspect of the event and will be joined by high-profile chefs like Ryan and Catherine Kline of Zambra in Asheville, North Carolina who will share their farm-to-table, Western Mediterranean-inspired fare, and Geoff Kenny, corporate chef for Nama, Shuck and Cru Bistro and Wine Bar in Knoxville, Tennessee.

Food purveyors will also be present like J.Q. Dickinson Salt Works. This high-end salt provider located in the West Virginia harvests all-natural salt by hand trapped below the Appalachian Mountain. The salt is incorporated into many of the chefs dishes.

Although food and regional wineries and breweries will add to the event’s appeal, whiskey remains at the heart of the event. Distillers like Jack Daniel’s, George Dickel, Old Forge, Sugarlands, H Clark, Corsair, Ole Smoky Moonshine and many more will be present offering samplings of their craft spirits.

The festival is arranged and hosted by the Tennessee Distillers Guild and the Smoky Mountain Tourism Development Authority. The 2016 and 2017 festivals were a hit with over 700 whiskey enthusiasts and foodies. Now in its third year, the festival is expected to be even better as the added culinary component will ensure there’s something for consumers, foodies, bartenders and spirit professionals alike.

Set against the background of the Great Smoky Mountains at sunset, the event will take place from 6 p.m. to 9 p.m. at the Townsend Visitors Center located at 7906 East Lamar Alexander Parkway in Townsend. With the growing popularity of the festival, people are encouraged to purchase their tickets prior to the event. General admission tickets are $65 in advance or $75 the day of the event. More information and tickets are available at grainsandgritsfest.com.