Thursday, July 3, 2014

Appalachian Distillery: Tour and Tasting

Today was the soft opening for a new business in our county: The Appalachian Distillery. 


Moonshine is being made--legally--right here in Jackson county by some former coal miners who were looking for a new opportunity when their mine closed down. Larry and I happened to be out at the big annual flea market and ran into a friend who told us about the distillery's opening; since the distillery is located adjacent to the flea market, we had to check it out.

The still. The process starts here with mash and water. The mash is mostly corn with some barley, because the barley has an enzyme that converts the starch in the corn to sugar.


Owners Dwayne and Sandra Freeman originally planned to locate the business in Ravenswood, and it would have been a boost in the economic arm of that town which suffered a hit when the local aluminum plant laid off hundreds of workers several years ago. But there was opposition in the community to that plan so the men found a new location in Fairplain, with easy access to Interstate 77. It will probably prove to be a wise choice.

Distiller Darrell Lee was happy to give us a tour, even though official tours have not yet begun. It's easy to see that he loves his new occupation.

The boiler; can't recall how many thousands BTU, but BIG)

One of two fermenters--this is where the yeast is added/
The equipment looks deceptively simple, but the process is anything but. This isn't the old bootlegger's still in the hills; the boiler, distillers and fermenters are all state of the art. Darrell explained that the brew goes through several cycles in the copper tube, each one refining the mix and assuring an even alcohol content. 


Visitors today were treated to free samples. We tried a sip of apple pie, and one of a cinnamon flavor and another of one flavored with a wild fruit called pawpaw. I'm not a fan of pawpaws, so I didn't care for that one, but a woman visiting from Canada loved it. After sips of 4 flavored whiskeys and one of the plain unflavored shine, I decided that the plain stuff was my favorite. I do mean sips too--moonshine produces a burn as it goes down, pleasant enough if sipped but it would light my fire if I tried anything bigger!

Chillin' by the still
This isn't an inexpensive drink, but it's a fun, unusual treat with historical connections that date back to the coming of Europeans to this continent. Bottles sell for $16.95 for a pint jug, and over $30.00 for the larger size. But for a unique experience, the distillery is worth a visit and a sip or two of that good ol' mountain dew.




The facility is open  from 9:00am-5:00pm Monday through Saturday and is located at 3875 Cedar Lakes Drive, Ripley WV 25275. For more information call 304-372-7000 or email info@appalachian-moonshine.com.  You can also visit their website Appalachian Moonshine.


Copyright Susanna Holstein. All rights reserved. No Republication or Redistribution Allowed without attribution to Susanna Holstein.

1 comment:

Michelle said...

I am glad to see that Moonshine is being taken seriously and the tradition is being preserved. There is a wonderful documentary of Popcorn Sutton distilling some shine on Netflix. I think you can catch it on youtube as well.

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