MOUNTAIN STATE DISTILLERY
MADE, DISTILLED, AND PROCESSED IN
THE HEART OF APPALACHIA.
We are a small, boutique style micro-distillery located in the historic shopping district of Downtown Charleston, WV. We make, distill, blend and process different spirits from our own distillery, and from another distillery. I am often asked “why get spirits from another distillery, just make it all yourself”. That is a valid question, and a question I didn’t plan to have to answer, but here we are. But first, lets go back to the beginning. I opened this location for the sole intent of making moonshine. Real backwoods corn likker, as authentic as you could get, so that’s what I set out to do.
The concept started in 1994 when me and a fellow college student started trying to come up with ways to make potent alcohol, but infuse some flavorings into it while it was in the distillation / condensing stage of the process. Well, unfortunately the semester ended before we could get anything together, and the idea faded off. I then went into the auto racing business, racing across 3 – 4 states for the next 8 years. During that time, I went into the biodiesel business, manufacturing my own biodiesel for personal use. I used the fuel for all 3 of my vehicles at the time. But it really wasn’t what I had envisioned for myself. So back to the corporate world I went.
In 2007, we took a trip to Tennessee for a long weekend getaway, and I learned that the idea I had been working on since college was already happening in other areas. This lit the fire that I needed. When we returned home, the business plans began. It was 6 years later when I was ready to file for the business license, so I registered with the WV Secretary of State, but, we still did not have a location.
Property in Charleston is difficult in a number of ways. First, it’s expensive. Rent in Charleston is more expensive than most significantly larger cities in the region. Louisville is a prime example of less expensive storefronts. Anyway, another way Charleston is difficult is owners. One location I found would have been perfect for my operation, however the owners said they would not rent to anyone involved in retail, so they opted to leave some of the best storefront real estate filled with storage boxes. I called and vented to Tony the Tailor, a prominent local businessman who gave me the number to Jennifer Pharr, his real estate agent. She took me to 1 building, and I was sold. The building owners were on board, it was a done deal.
Construction was beginning, along with the waiting game of permitting. We were ready to open, but we hit some snags with the building and fire inspectors. So coming up on the end of my budget, with no whiskey made, I had to look at all my options. After a lot of travel, sampling and touring, I made the decision to work with another distillery to help me kick-start my inventory. They had the capacity, and even better, the quality product I would be willing to carry, and our Southern Blend Whiskey was born. The initial plan was to use this to simply help buy me some time to get my own product on the shelf, but the product is good enough that I decided to keep it as our house whiskey.
Now, I am able to do what I do best - make authentic Mountain State Moonshine, as I had always planned to do. I can experiment with flavors, I can do special events to get outside input on products and still have a good, quality product on the shelf.
So as much as I wish that I had a good family secret recipe story to share, the moonshining in my family was done before I was born, and although my uncle tells me stories of it, my mother will not confirm (or deny) the fact that it happened. So I have developed my own moonshine recipe, and so far, it has been wildly popular.