By: Shawndra Russell

 

 

A Craft Haven in Nashville, Tennessee

The notoriety of TV’s American Picker star Mike Wolfe, who opened Antique Archaeology in the Village in 2011, helped put Marathon Village on the map. Yet, owner Barry Walker, who spent a meager $300 to purchase one building— earns all the credit for molding the Village into an entrepreneurial refuge. Walker spent years battling shady characters who used the abandoned building as a crime-ridden home base. His determination to keep rents low as well as protect the historical beauty of the building has made this a location where creators love to work and tourists flock to. Here are a few of the highlights you don’t want to miss.

 

Libations

In April 2015, grain-to-glass Corsair Distillery launched its brewery operations in the same vein as its microdistillery operations—with a focus on small, inventive batches. And the stakes are high for Corsair’s founders to deliver exceptional brews since Fast Company named them one of the most innovative companies of 2015 for creating “whiskeys made from grains like quinoa, buckwheat, and amaranth, as well as “hopped” whiskeys distilled from refined mashes that would normally be brewed into a craft beer.” Nothing seems to scare these guys—Citra Double IPA whiskey or Oatmeal Stout whiskey, anyone?—and the nutty Quinoa Whiskey blew me away during the tour, which was only $8 and included a flight of five samples. Another surprise discovery was that I actually like gin made the Corsair way, with a hand-hammered gin-head pot-still over 100 years old and vaporized essential oils from botanicals including juniper and citrus peels. The result is a fresh, crisp gin that changed my opinion on the liquor forever.

But Corsair isn’t the only distillery to live in Marathon Village. Nelson’s GreenBrier Distillery whips up a bourbon, and Tennessee white whiskey and sherry cask bourbon that all won medals at the San Francisco World Spirits Competition in 2015. Perhaps even better than their product is their story; two twenty-something brothers found out that their great-great-great grandfather used to own and operate Green Brier Distillery and made a pact to resurrect the brand after seeing an original bottle preserved at the Greenbrier Historical Society in Tennessee.

 

Food & Drink

One of my favorite aspects of craft culture is that it turns tried-and-true favorites on their head. Take The Bang Candy Company, who specialize in craft marshmallows. Yes, marshmallows. These treats aren’t the ones you had sitting around a campfire as a kid. Instead, these squares of deliciousness come in flavors like chocolate chili, blackcurrant absinthe, maple bacon bourbon and rose cardamom. The consistency is softer and gooier than their store-bought counterparts, and half of the marshmallow is dipped in Belgian chocolate. You can even take a class at Bang Candy to learn how to make them yourself.

No craft mecca is complete without a coffee shop, and Marathon’s is Garage Coffee Company. Like all good craft businesses, Garage has an approachable, let’s-talk-shop attitude behind their beautiful wood ceilinged, retro space that yes, looks like a garage with a nice cozy courtyard around back. They promise you’ll be back for “frequent voluntary maintenance” in the form of their signature, handcrafted blend, called Road Rage, and other goodies.

 

Music

Just to give you an idea how big Marathon Village is, a 14,000 square foot, indoor concert hall called Marathon Music Works exists within its brick walls and features a 40 foot by 30 foot stage and a VIP Mezzanine overlooking the main room. Solid acts roll through here like Sleater-Kinney, who just reunited at the end of 2014 and put out a new album in January 2015. J-Roddy Waltson & the Business and Reel Big Fish also have upcoming shows, and Garth Brooks just performed a secret show for a few hundred fans in February 2015. Lightning 100, Nashville’s Independent Radio, is also in the house and chats with plenty of the local and traveling musicians stopping by to jam out in the studio; the station also likes to throw block parties now and again. A few recording studios also call Marathon Village home.

 

Art

Alongside the artists making liquor, beer and music in Marathon Village are jewelry makers, photographers, interior designers, and tattoo artists. Of course, the art of automobile design is also on display on-site, as four of the 100-year-old beauties have come full circle to enjoy their retirement. See the full list of art galleries, boutiques and more here.