Popcorn Sutton's liquor-making dream comes true in Cocke County

Popcorn Sutton's liquor-making dream comes true in Cocke County

Posted:
The facility will be the world's largest purpose-built white whiskey making operation. The facility will be the world's largest purpose-built white whiskey making operation.
"When Popcorn and I actually formed the company, this was always our vision and plan to come back to Cocke County," said Jamey Grosser, owner and master distiller. "When Popcorn and I actually formed the company, this was always our vision and plan to come back to Cocke County," said Jamey Grosser, owner and master distiller.
Popcorn Sutton's widow (right) oversees work at the distillery. Popcorn Sutton's widow (right) oversees work at the distillery.

By JOSH AULT
6 News Reporter

NEWPORT (WATE) - Popcorn Sutton's "likker" has become legitimate and now it's coming home to Cocke County.

The legendary moonshiner took his own life rather than go to prison, but in the years since, laws have changed allowing small distillers to make their own white whiskey.

The company that's been distilling legal spirits under Sutton's name started in Nashville, but now is in the process of building a distillery in Newport.

Jamey Grosser, the owner and master distiller of Popcorn Sutton's Tennessee White Whiskey, gave 6 News a tour of their new distillery in Cocke County on Wednesday.

He started working on the project a year ago when Cocke County officials finally gave the green light to construction of distilleries in the county.

Grosser became business partners with Sutton shortly before his death.

"When Popcorn and I actually formed the company, this was always our vision and plan to come back to Cocke County," said Grosser.

The distillery is located in an existing warehouse on Highway 25 in Newport. City officials just recently annexed the property.

It will employee up to 50 people when the distillery is fully operational.

"This will be the world's largest purpose-built white whiskey making operation," explained Grosser. "We are going to be making a ton of white whiskey."

Sutton's widow, Pam Sutton, is also a partner in the company.

"He would have been amazed by it because that's something he wanted most of his life, to have a big huge distillery, and to have it legal," said Sutton. "He started it all. He made the plans. He designed the stills, and unfortunately he's not here to finish it, so I'm trying to finish it for him."

Many hope the distillery will bring additional revenue into the county.

"Anytime there is job creation or economic impact, we are excited about that. But for our tourists, it will give them another opportunity to find out more about Cocke County," said Cocke County Partnership Tourism Director Linda Lewanski.

"I'm sure he's looking down and doing his little dance and laughing and enjoying watching this all," added Grosser.

They plan to start making the first test batches by July and be fully open in September.

Eventually, they would like to sell whiskey to the public at the Newport location and give tours of the distillery.

Popcorn Sutton's Tennessee White Whiskey can already be found in Tennessee, Kentucky, Arkansas, and Georgia.

The company plans to widen its distribution once the new distillery opens.

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