Knoxville Bourbon Society


KBS members share their passion online

A longtime fan of craft beers, Stephen Lowery shifted loyalties after he and his brother took a trip in 2010 to the distillers along the Kentucky Bourbon Trail. By the end of the tour and tastings, he was a convert. Now he’s a lead administrators on the Knoxville Bourbon Society’s Facebook page. The almost 3,000 members of the KBS trade stories of their favorite drinks and drinking establishments, help each other locate hard-to-find bottles, offer advice on new brands to try, and, prior to COVID, met in person monthly to sip and socialize.

When Downtown Grill & Brewery was unable to hold its annual Christmas party to benefit The Love Kitchen, the Knoxville Bourbon Society jumped in by donating bourbon-related items for an online auction to help make up the difference.

Meghan Francis

Like many others in KBS, Lowery was taken with the story of the popular brown liquor. “Once I heard the history, how it all got started and all the accidents that brought it to where it is today, it turned me on to it a lot,” he said “It’s the story of what makes America America.”

Darrell Freeze, with Constellation Brands, said brown goods like bourbon have taken off in the last three years all over the country. “The millennial generation seems to really like craft cocktails and the tales of whiskeys and bourbons,” he said. “They almost have a cult following; I think social media is probably a big piece of that.”

So, too, were changes in Tennessee state law a decade or so ago that allowed for distilleries to be established in 41 more counties than previously had been permitted. Small local distilleries in Knox and surrounding counties have added to the buzz around booze.

Lowery loves to experiment with new cocktail combinations. He has a cold smoker for creating smoked cocktails and a one-liter barrel for aging liquors. “I love trying something out,” he said. “I made an Old-Fashioned with simple syrup and cardamom and cinnamon and aged rye and bourbon aged in my barrel. It was awesome.”

Awesome, too, is the civil tone at the Knoxville Bourbon Society’s Facebook page. “We try to keep it nice, try to make it social,” Lowery said. “It’s a community.”

No red or blue comments, please. For the Knoxville Bourbon Society, it’s all about brown.   

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