Alcohol laws of Tennessee
The Alcohol laws of Tennessee are distinct in that they vary considerably by county.
Local government jurisdictions (counties & municipalities) in Tennessee by default are dry and do not allow the sales of liquor or wine. These governments must amend the laws to allow for liquor-by-the-drink sales and retail package stores. In many cases, the county may be dry, but a municipality is wet. Selling beer does not impact a dry or wet designation. This list may not reflect recent changes.
In a "dry County", the sale of alcohol and alcoholic beverages is prohibited or restricted – 10 out of Tennessee's 95 counties are completely dry.
- Crockett County
- Fentress County
- Hancock County
- Houston County
- Lake County
- Meigs County
- Moore County (Despite being home to Jack Daniel's Distillery, Moore County itself had been completely dry. However, the County now allows the sale of commemorative bottles of Jack in the White Rabbit Bottle Shop and one can take part in a sampling tour at the distillery)
- Morgan County
- Stewart County
- Union County
The designation of a "wet county" applies to jurisdictions where the sale of alcohol and alcoholic beverages is permitted – 10 out of Tennessee's 95 counties are wet. The state's four largest cities, Memphis (Shelby), Nashville (Davidson), Knoxville (Knox), and Chattanooga (Hamilton), are located in "wet counties".
- Cumberland County
- Davidson County
- Hamilton County
- Knox County
- Loudon County
- Polk County
- Rutherford County
- Shelby County
- Sumner County
- Williamson County
In a "moist county", the sale of alcohol and alcoholic beverages in certain jurisdictions is permitted. This designation applies to 75 out of Tennessee's 95 counties.
- Anderson County permits both
- Bedford County permits both
- Benton County permits Retail package stores
- Bledsoe County permits both
- Blount County permits both
- Bradley County liquor-by-the-drink ONLY
- Campbell County permits both
- Cannon County permits both
- Carroll County Retail package stores
- Carter County liquor-by-the-drink county-wide and retail package stores restricted to Elizabethton city limits (limited to three stores maximum)
- Cheatham County permits both
- Chester County Retail package stores
- Claiborne County Liquor-by-the-drink (New Tazewell) and wine in retail food stores (Tazewell)
- Clay County Retail package stores
- Cocke County permits both
- Coffee County permits both
- DeKalb County Retail package stores
- Decatur County Liquor-by-the-drink in restaurants with a dining capacity of 75 or greater within three miles of the Tennessee River
- Dickson County permits both
- Dyer County permits both
- Fayette County permits both
- Franklin County permits both
- Gibson County permits both
- Giles County permits both
- Grainger County Liquor-by-the-drink in Blaine (2016 referendum)
- Greene County Retail package stores
- Grundy County Retail package stores
- Hamblen County permits both
- Hardeman County liquor-by-the-drink ONLY
- Hardin County Retail package stores, Liquor-by-the-drink in restaurants with a dining capacity of 75 or greater within three miles of Tennessee River
- Hawkins County Retail package stores
- Haywood County liquor-by-the-drink ONLY
- Henderson County Retail package stores ONLY (no liquor-by-the-drink), and only within the city limits of Lexington, new referendum passed September 8, 2011
- Henry County permits both
- Hickman County Retail package stores ONLY and only within the city limits of Centerville. This is due to state law not allowing liquor stores in unincorporated areas. Centerville is the only incorporated city in the county.
- Humphreys County Retail package stores, Liquor-by-the-drink in Waverly (Referendum passed November 2016)
- Jackson County Retail package stores
- Jefferson County permits both
- Johnson County permits both (2018 referenda)
- Lauderdale County permits both
- Lawrence County Retail package stores
- Lewis County Retail Package Stores
- Lincoln County permits both
- Macon County Retail package store in Red Boiling Springs.
- Madison County permits both
- Marion County permits both
- Marshall County permits both
- Maury County permits both
- McMinn County Full retail sales of liquor allowed on a community elective basis.
- McNairy County permits both in Selmer ONLY (2015 referendum)
- Montgomery County permits both
- Monroe County permits both
- Obion County liquor-by-the-drink ONLY
- Overton County liquor-by-the-drink ONLY
- Perry County Retail package stores
- Pickett County Retail package store in Byrdstown
- Putnam County permits both
- Rhea County permits both
- Roane County permits both
- Robertson County permits both
- Scott County both permitted in Winfield only,
- Sequatchie County permits both
- Sevier County permits both
- Smith County permits both
- Sullivan County permits both
- Tipton County permits both
- Trousdale County Retail package stores
- Unicoi County Liquor-by-the-drink ONLY
- Van Buren County Retail package stores
- Warren County Liquor-by-the-drink ONLY
- Washington County permits both
- Wayne County Retail package stores in Clifton (2018 referendum) and liquor-by-the-drink in restaurants with a dining capacity of 75 or greater within three miles of Tennessee River
- Weakley County Liquor-by-the-drink ONLY
- White County Liquor-by-the-drink ONLY
- Wilson County permits both
By 1810, registered distilleries numbered 14,191 and were producing 25.5 million gallons of whiskey. In 2009, the Tennessee General Assembly amended the statute that had for many years limited the distillation of drinkable spirits to just three counties (Lincoln, Moore, and Coffee). The revised law allows distilleries to be established in 41 additional counties (counties in which liquor-by-the-drink was legal). This change was expected to lead to the establishment of small distilleries, thus increasing the number of producers of Tennessee whiskey. As of March 2013, there are five brands with at least one Tennessee whiskey on the market, and several with whiskey in the barrel awaiting release. By state law, distilleries may sell one commemorative product on location regardless of local statutes.
- Rader, Ashley (November 7, 2012). "Elizabethton liquor-store referendum passes with 58 percent of vote". Elizabethton Star. Retrieved January 9, 2014.
- Rader, Ashley (December 14, 2012). "Council sets liquor store limit at 3". Elizabethton Star. Retrieved January 9, 2014.
- "Package stores, consumption on premise passes". The Tomahawk - Mountain City, Tennessee. 2018-11-15. Retrieved 2018-12-25.
- "Selmer voters approve liquor referendums". The Jackson Sun. Retrieved 2018-11-09.
- Gaston, Kay Baker (1999). "Tennessee Distilleries: Their Rise, Fall, and Re-emergence". Border States: Journal of the Kentucky-Tennessee American Studies Association. Retrieved 20 March 2013.
- John T. Edge, That's the Whiskey Talking, Gourmet.com (Gourmet magazine website), August 13, 2009
- "Distilleries". TennesseeWhiskey.com. Archived from the original on 7 March 2013. Retrieved 20 March 2013.