Group turns in signatures for Tennessee’s first distillery referendum

August 6th, 2010

(WOODBURY, TN) – A group wanting to create a Tennessee brand of distilled spirits in Cannon County, Tennessee will turn in petition signatures Friday at noon for a county wide referendum. (photo courtesy of Cannon Courier)

Cannon County farmer Billy Kaufman and supporters will deliver over 800 signatures collected over the past two months to Cannon County Election Commission Chair Stanley Dobson at noon today in Woodbury, TN. The signatures must be validated and approved by the county commission before voters can decide in the county’s November general election whether or not they want a distillery under a new state law.

If voters approve the referendum, Short Mountain Distillery will operate on Kaufman’s 300 acre farm on Short Mountain in Liberty, Tennessee.

“This is about jobs,” said Kaufman. “It’s also about tourism, revenue and the kind of sustainability we need to preserve our way of life.”

In 2009, the state legislature passed a law allowing legal distilleries across the state of Tennessee. Lawmakers put in place a referendum process for counties that do not already allow liquor by the drink or package stores. Distillery referendum petitions require a total number of signatures equal to the county’s total votes cast in the last Presidential election.

Cannon County has a rich agricultural heritage that also produced what some say was the best distilled spirits in the country before and during prohibition. Moonshine from the hills of Cannon County is specifically celebrated in old time country music songs once sung at the Grand Ole Opry by Uncle Dave Macon, Porter Wagoner and others. Tennessee is well known around the world for Jack Daniel’s and George Dickel aged whiskeys.

“Throughout this process we spoke with a lot of people, young and old, who have called Cannon County home all their life,” Kaufman said. “The support and enthusiasm people are sharing with us has been overwhelmingly positive.”

Short Mountain Distillery will bring tourism, jobs and needed county revenue while honoring the community’s history and character.

“We want to work directly with local farmers and businesses as we grow,” Kaufman said. “We want to share our local history with the world, and we want tourism to bring new opportunities for local businesses.”

Kaufman and his brothers, David and Ben, are the great-grand children of Jesse Shwayder, the founder of another well-known American brand Samsonite 100 years ago in 1910. Their grandfather, Louis Degan, ran Samsonite’s Murfreesboro, TN location for decades employing many Middle Tennesseans.

Short Mountain Distillery will be a small-batch craft distiller creating specialty brands of moonshine and aged whiskey. For more information and photos from today’s filing, visit our website at 

  1. August 8th, 2010 at 08:02 | #1

    I would like a PR job! :) Good luck to you and here’s hoping you will be an asset and a welcome face in Cannon County! You are a friend of Moon Shine Valley!

  2. August 13th, 2010 at 08:52 | #2

    great information…

  3. Brenda Bess
    September 19th, 2010 at 10:50 | #3

    I think what your doing for this country is a good thing “Creating Job’s” We need this. there are no jobs today for people.I Hope its sucessful and i hope maybe to get a job there myself. i live in warren county not far from you about 5 min. from short mountain.i wish i could help on the vote because i know we need jobs.but,im still in warren county. but good luck, and most of all GOD BLESS. Brenda Bess

  1. August 11th, 2010 at 12:00 | #1
Comments are closed.