A Tennessee tradition of whiskey making rises and shines

June 15th, 2011

Check out this nice article by Jennifer Folsom in the latest Watertown Gazette on our effort to resurrect an age-old Tennessee tradition of moonshine and whiskey making on Short Mountain. Awesome photos by Jessica Atnip. Here is an excerpt.

“While we were collecting signatures for the referendum, the people we talked with were very supportive,” says Kaufman, noting that once people in his community realize what his goals are, they are ready to support him and the distillery.

“People want their way of life honored. We did some digging and discovered that in Cannon County before prohibition there were 18 legal distilleries. The people of this area were flourishing at that time and grew orchards, corn and sorghum to support the industry. It was a time when farming made sense.”

Kaufman, great-grandson of Jesse Shwayder, founder of Samsonite Luggage, doesn’t just ask for support from his community – he first gives it. The distillery was founded with his great-grandfather’s tradition of letting the Golden Rule guide him, on hand and in heart.

“I knew I needed to create an industry which would include agriculture, this area’s rural heritage and would encourage people getting together and working together,” says Kaufman of the distillery’s principle of mutual respect. Kaufman wants to “turn the clock back 100 years” and return to a farming model which creates value-added products and not only supports itself but the community as well. He plans to source agricultural products from within 30 miles of the distillery and bring jobs and needed revenue to his community.

This spring Little Short Mountain Farm and a team of neighbors and volunteers planted seven acres of corn. They used five teams of mules from the Middle Tennessee Mule Skinners Association. (See shortmountaindistillery.com for a video of the planting.)

“Everyone who has been employed here since the start has lived within 15 miles,” says Grantham. “We are trusting our neighbors and involving our community, and so they want to be a part this. We want every part of this distillery to reflect this community.”

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