Tennessee has passed legislation allowing “wet” counties to license distilleries. When the law was passed, state Rep. Eddie Yokley did not ask that Cocke County, in his district, be included on the list for licensing. Cocke County is the most famous location in Tennessee for producing distilled spirits, with the possible exception of the Jack Daniels distillery in Lynchburg. The county has an unemployment rate of 12 percent.
Although a spokesman says Yokley did not put Cocke County on the list because he did not have a “green light” from the Cocke County Commission, there are evidently folks back home who think the idea of legally marketing liquor produced in Cocke County is not such a bad idea. County Mayor Iliff McMahan, who has made industrial development his signature issue, was said to be extremely miffed at Cocke County’s exemption.
Legislation is expected this year to try and get Cocke County legal and join other counties as being able to open distilleries.
Correction: State Rep. Eddie Yokley, D-Greeneville, did not request that Cocke County be exempt from having the ability to license distilleries as previously stated. In order for a county to license distilleries, the county had to ask to be put on the list. A spokesman said Yokley did not put Cocke County on the list to allow distilleries since he did not have a “green light” from the Cocke County Commission to do so. The legislation does allow Cocke County Commission to pass a resolution and apply to the Secretary of State's office to be included on the list of counties able to license alcohol distilleries.