Rolling Oak Distillery in Dunlap crafts moonshine with natural ingredients and antique methods.

What’s in a Jar of Rolling Oak Distillery’s Misty Mountain Moonshine? 

160-Year-Old Moonshine Recipes, Secret Distilling Techniques, Heirloom Grains, and Sequatchie Valley Spring Water 

Travis Faucett is a Dunlap, TN, native and the founder of Sequatchie Valley’s first legal distillery. Moonshine was once reminiscent of Prohibition, hillbillies, and illegality. However, corn liquor has recently become a mainstream addition to the alcohol industry. Travis, his wife Emily, and the team behind Rolling Oak Distillery are seizing the opportunity to mesh moonshine’s past and present, but in the exclusive way that only Faucett can. 

With 160-year-old recipes, secret distilling techniques, heirloom grains, and local spring water, Travis and his family produce the same old-fashioned moonshine that Sequatchie Valley old-timers enjoyed generations ago. These methods produce a liquor that is in stark contrast to the commercialized products found on shelves today. 

From grains to greatness, every jar from Rolling Oak Distillery is an opportunity to immerse yourself in the Valley’s heritage. It’s an unforgettable experience and is one that can only be found in Dunlap.

Travis Faucett, owner of Rolling Oak Distillery in Dunlap, TN.
Photo credit: Emily Faucett

160 Years of Secret Family Recipes

Born and raised in Dunlap, Faucett was a workhorse for a secret moonshine still. As a boy, he carried corn and sugar to the still. He was the muscle behind the operation, but the real work began after his elders sent him home. Unknown to him, they were crafting moonshine with treasured family recipes. He uses those same recipes today at Rolling Oak Distillery.  

Secret Distilling Techniques

Moonshine was a way of life for Faucett well before it became legal in the state of Tennessee. His family’s moonshine roots run deep on both sides. Being both a fourth- and fifth-generation shiner, Travis was entrusted with his family’s secret recipe. His confidential methods, however, were taught by a town elder who didn’t have any sons to inherit his knowledge.

“I use a family recipe, but he taught me the finer things about distillation,” Travis explained. “He is a very important person to this entire operation.” 

The gentleman Travis speaks of has died, but he continues to influence Rolling Oak Distillery and every product that comes from the business. The man, whom Faucett doesn’t name, lived through the Great Depression. He had a saying that has stuck with Travis since childhood. The saying, “No matter how hard times get, a man always has a dollar for a drink of liquor,” inspires Faucett daily.  

Corn liquor has surged in popularity although most of what consumers purchase today is commercialized. For customers at Rolling Oak Distillery, that’s not the case. The small-batch jars simply cannot be compared to many of the other brands on the market today. Travis and Emily are bringing authenticity back to the industry and creating a product that consumers genuinely enjoy. It’s not just another liquor on the shelf; it’s an experience. 

Not only are his recipes and methods unique, but Travis builds his stills too. 

“He taught me a lot, and it would have all been lost to time if no one had picked it up from him. I wouldn’t know how to build a still if it weren’t for him,” Faucett elaborated. 

Heirloom Grains 

Travis crafts his Misty Mountain Moonshine from an heirloom variety of corn prized for its sweetness. In the beginning, Faucett had to grow his own corn. However, now most of it is locally sourced from farmers in the Sequatchie Valley. It is the same rare variety that Faucett’s ancestors used. While using imported protein corn as some other distilleries do is more affordable, it results in a different product than what Rolling Oak strives to create. Travis partners with local farmers to grow the rare corn, and this maintains the integrity of his family’s infamous moonshine.

Rolling Oak Distillery also uses local barley and wheat when producing its Tennessee whiskey and American bourbon. In addition to superior grains, Travis uses no artificial colors or flavors in his products. 

“Do you think any old-timer had artificial flavoring? Sticking with our heritage makes it a finer product,” Travis said. “It’s harder to produce, but it’s a labor of love. If we’re going to do it, we’re going to do it right. We’re keeping it old school.”

Spring Water from the Sequatchie Valley 

Travis selected a hidden spot in the woods for Rolling Oak Distillery, just like a traditional moonshine still. While searching for the perfect spot for his business, Travis discovered antique whiskey bottles, some of which were full of old alcohol. Remembering that it was the site of one of Dunlap’s original stills, he immediately embraced the spot and began building his business. 

Faucett knows who the original still belonged to, although just like much of Dunlap’s moonshine past, he won’t disclose too many details. He might be the only native who knows Dunlap’s full moonshining story, but to protect others, he doesn’t disclose too many details. Many of the region’s moonshiners are no longer with us, but their heritage lives on through Travis and Rolling Oak Distillery. 

One way he pays homage to the old ways is by using local spring water in every batch. The Sequatchie Valley is famous for its natural and untamed landscape and resources. The spring water is pristine, and it helps form a smooth burn after each sip of shine. 

The Finished Product

Sample moonshine at Rolling Oak Distillery in Dunlap, TN.
Photo credit: Hannah Glover

According to Travis, a good quality moonshine is smooth as silk. Most of his moonshine varieties are 40-proof and can be turned down into a cocktail or turned up by adding a clear liquor. Along with pouring samples, Travis and his team enjoy educating customers on how the moonshine is made and how to enjoy it. During your visit, ask the team about which products best suit your tastes. Like wine tasting, sampling moonshine is an adventure for the palate.

“When it comes to moonshine, some people just want to flirt with danger,” Travis explained. He describes his flavored moonshines as “porch sippers” to pour over ice and enjoyed. Rolling Oak Distillery offers a wide variety of proofs, each with its own strength and profile. 

“Our 140-proof is smoother than some of the lower proofs, but some get scared when they see that number. It’s a limited crowd that wants a 100-proof,” the distiller said.

Rolling Oak Distillery Along the Sequatchie Valley National Scenic Byway

Looking for things to do in Dunlap? Visit the Sequatchie Valley National Scenic Byway to discover your new favorite destination.
Photo credit: Hannah Glover

Dunlap is in the heart of Sequatchie Valley, and it sits along the newly designated Sequatchie Valley National Scenic Byway. Nestled into a quaint holler, Rolling Oak Distillery is easily accessible to travelers yet secluded enough to allow visitors to be immersed in moonshine’s elusive past. 

Traditional stills were not showcased on crowded streets. Rather, moonshiners hid the operations in thick forests under tree canopies and in the dark of night. When visiting Rolling Oaks Distillery, guests can expect an authentic visit to the past.

The Sequatchie Valley’s Tourism Growth

Photo credit: Sean Fisher

Sequatchie Valley has seen a rapid burst of growth. The population is quickly rising, and the tourism industry is exploding as new visitors discover the region. The Sequatchie Valley National Scenic Byway’s designation has fueled the growth.

Dunlap is in the heart of the Valley and is home to many family-owned and operated businesses. Like Rolling Oak Distillery, these businesses capture the essence of the Sequatchie Valley people. That charm and the dramatic landscape together have formed a paradise for travelers looking for an extraordinary experience. 

“It’s like a powder keg, and the fuse has already been lit,” Travis said when describing the area’s economic growth. 

Plan to traverse the Byway to see the Valley’s picturesque views and lush landscape. The Sequatchie Valley is a relatively new destination that already offers many natural and historical attractions, outdoor activities, and businesses. Moreover, every town along the Byway is growing and offering new things to do and exciting places to dine, shop, and stay. Check the special events calendar to find festivals and other events like the annual Historic Downtown Dunlap Songwriters Festival. The future shines bright for this destination.

Plan a Visit to Rolling Oak Distillery and Dunlap, TN

Photo credit: Sean Fisher

In Dunlap, the Coke Ovens Museum is a top attraction. Nearby, Downtown Dunlap is home to quaint shops and businesses like the Dunlap Mercantile housed in the town’s oldest building. Dunlap is also home to the area’s only recording studio, Studio Dunlap. Stop by the studio to admire the thrilling guitar mural and then stroll the streets to find other shops and eateries. Venture out into the countryside and visit Little Tail Farms and its array of barnyard animals. Learn more about what to do in Dunlap here.

Little Tail Farms in Dunlap
Photo Courtesy of Little Tail Farms

Back at Rolling Oak Distillery, Travis is sharing the sentiment of restoring Dunlap’s past. His business also includes an on-site general store selling products locally made in the Sequatchie Valley and Southeastern Tennessee. He sells items from big-name brands like Lodge Cast Iron from South Pittsburg and Moon Pies from Chattanooga alongside local honey, baked goods, goat milk soap, nuts, and more. 

“There’s not enough of these stores around anymore like what we had when I was growing up,” Travis stated. 

The general store at Rolling Oak Distillery rounds out the guest’s experience of what life used to be like for some in Dunlap. Small businesses and Sequatchie Valley natives make many of the items within 15 miles of the distillery.

Touring the Sequatchie Valley National Scenic Byway

The Sequatchie Valley National Scenic Byway is a 70-mile stretch of dramatic landscapes. Discover panoramic views, rocky bluffs, gorges, rivers, trails, and waterfalls in Tennessee’s Great Valley. The Byway runs along the Sequatchie River, which offers enthusiasts an environment for fishing, kayaking, and boating. Likewise, it allows the wildlife and greenery to flourish. Geological formations and untamed lands have allowed the region to develop and preserve its Native American, Civil War, and coal mining history.

It is time for you to discover the Sequatchie Valley for yourself. See, hear, feel, and taste the region’s past during your visit. Rolling Oak Distillery is just off the Byway, so don’t miss this fascinating distillery in Dunlap. Learn more about traveling the Sequatchie Valley National Scenic Byway and plan your trip today!

Authored in Appalachia || Amy Morton


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