Our Family Getaway to Blackberry Mountain

A few weeks ago, my sister Louise and I had the good fortune to take a brief pause amidst the holiday craze and sneak away to Blackberry Mountain with our mom and dad for a long weekend.

Blackberry Farm, known for its Foothill Cuisine, has earned Michelin Stars and James Beard Awards, along with its incredible wine and bourbon collection, recently expanded its property to welcome its sister location Blackberry Mountain. Set among the Great Smoky Mountains, the Mountain is a slightly more casual experience, yet shares the same commitment to excellence in hospitality and experience, but with a greater focus on the outdoors, activities and fitness. So for myself and Louise, who share a love for exercise, meanwhile enjoying all of the indulgent things in life like savory food, great cocktails, and unique experiences, the invitation to stay at Blackberry Mountain was what we call perfection.

The trip was prompted by a weekend of culinary and cocktail events hosted by my Dad, sister, and me, to share our family history, traditions, and of course, bourbon. Combined with all the Mountain has to offer, it was a fantastic experience all around. Here are a few highlights from the weekend: 

 Beaten Biscuit Making Class

For those that like to bake, our Beaten Biscuit Making class was a special treat combining an age-old Van Winkle family recipe with lessons from my Dad, who, along with our aunt Sally is the master of beaten biscuit making. Beaten biscuits are a Southern tradition not many are familiar with. They take time, labor, and patience and have a very distinct texture, unlike its better-known sister, the buttery, flaky biscuit.

Beaten biscuits are dense, which makes for the perfect country ham sandwich. They take hard work and a commitment to quality and consistency, which is no coincidence that they were one of Pappy’s favorite staples. With a fair amount of time and a willingness to work for the right texture, the beaten biscuit is best enjoyed toasted or warmed with thinly sliced country ham and a pat of homemade maple butter using our Pappy Van Winkle Bourbon Barrel-Aged Pure Maple Syrup. For the complete biscuit recipe, see here.

Cocktail Making Class with Our Dad Julian Van Winkle

It wouldn’t be a proper Van Winkle weekend if we didn’t include a cocktail making class. This course focused on ways our Pappy Van Winkle Bourbon Barrel Aged Pure Maple Syrup could be utilized in any recipe, and how it has become a staple among our cocktail ingredients. We made twists on classic cocktails like a Manhattan and Mint Julep along with some unexpected recipes like the Bourbon Sour and Daiquiri. Here are a few of the recipes from the class for you to try at home:

Julian’s Vanhattan:

  • 1 oz. Rye Whiskey
  • 1 oz. Bourbon
  • A Dash of Sweet Vermouth (We prefer Carpano Antica.) 
  • A Dash of Blood Orange Bitters
  • A Brandied Cherry
  • Garnish with a Twist of Orange.

Bourbon Sour:

We Love this Daiquiri

Combining cocktails and cuisine is what we do best when we are with our Dad, so the finale dinner was a great way to join efforts with his bourbon knowledge and our passion for infusing bourbon elements into food ingredients.

Bourbon Dinner Menu:

  • Smoked Pappy Van Winkle Trout Roe 
  • Grapefruit & Celery Salad
  • Bacon Miso Braised Pork Cheek
  • Grilled Elysian Fields Lamb
  • Pecan Financier

Thankfully in between all of the eating and drinking we enjoyed all weekend long, we took advantage of all the Mountain has to offer. We tried a HIIT class at the HUB and went on several trail runs; our favorite was the Firetower trail, which leads you to a fantastic dining spot at the very top of the Mountain. It doesn't get much better than a hike to breakfast with a view! On our last morning, Louise and I went for a mountain bike ride with a fellow guest and had a great time exploring an area of the mountain that is less traveled and off the beaten path. 

A Special Treat: Dinner at The Farm:

We had the opportunity to dine at The Barn at Blackberry Farm on our last night, a special surprise we were not expecting. The restaurant itself is a turn of the century bank-style barn outfitted with antique linens, custom chairs, and sterling silver.

 The menu sources most of its ingredients from what the farm grows as well as local bounties, described as “Foothills Cuisine” delicately dancing between refined and rugged. It borrows from both haute cuisine and the foods indigenous to Blackberry's Smoky Mountain heritage. With an abundance of tastes and delights that left us amazed by the flavors and creativity from executive chef Cassidy's team, we felt so fortunate to be able to enjoy this multi-course farmstead barn dinner, a classic Farm experience. 

While the food and cocktails were otherworldly during our stay, what truly impressed us was the attention to detail in every moment of the experience from the moment we set foot on the property until the moment we left. Pappy would fully approve of the Blackberry Farm and Mountain experience, not for its award-winning accolades or luxury accommodations, but for its commitment to excellence in experience and everything that goes into that commitment from the people, to the product, to the continual pursuit to deliver above and beyond the guest’s expectations, just as Pappy strived to do every day at the distillery.

A special thank you to everyone at Blackberry Farm and Blackberry Mountain for your incredible service and hospitality. It was a thoughtful collaboration between our family and the talented culinary and beverage team, which made for a truly memorable experience. We hope to visit again soon!
Carrie and Louise