Today marks the one year anniversary of Short Mountain Distillery opening its doors to the public and three years since the hard work began to make this day possible.
It was an exciting three years serving an extraordinary team as Chief Operating Officer during this time. I could not have written the business plan or built a distillery around making moonshine without the help of Cannon County voters in 2010. Building a heritage brand image around local moonshine culture would have never been a reality beyond the law change without the commitment and support of Billy Kaufman and his brothers Ben and David.
I recently left the distillery in February to pursue a project I hope helps save the planet, but I thought it was important to take this opportunity to highlight some of the first year successes we achieved as a team. The captioned slideshow below really helps tell this story using hundreds of photos I took. Here’s to many more years of making our whiskey heritage shine to the world from Woodbury, Tennessee!
Short Mountain Distillery’s first year by the numbers:
we created several local jobs and saw over 15,000 visitors at the distillery in Cannon County
we launched two products: Short Mountain Shine and Short Mountain Apple Pie
we sold over 2,500 cases of moonshine now available in stores across the state of Tennessee
Short Mountain Shine (105 proof authentic Tennessee Moonshine) won the Gold Medal in the International Review of Spirits Award from the Beverage Testing Institute
This is the good stuff. It takes days to get here, and the final hours can drag on for nearly half a day as the spirit slowly trickles from the still.
The spirit run takes time, and it takes patience. It takes a little choreography and then it takes waiting for time to do its thing. You don’t always know what you’re going to get, but you can have an idea from the taste of the beer before it’s reborn in the heat of a separate stripping run.
It’s an amazing ancient craft full of deep archetypal processes for those mesmerized by the alchemy of it all. Like most ancient crafts that capture the imaginations of the passionate, there are some basic steps decorated with secrets, some shared in fellowship and some unlocked and seared into memory through necessary failure. Every drop is a chapter. Every bottle is a story.
That’s probably the best way to look at it, and it’s certainly how our customers thankfully view it. The idea of selling out of Moonshine two or three times a week is still an unsettling feeling. Last week, we had to implement Moonshine rations (one bottle per customer) at the Stillhouse Store until we make a bigger release into stores. Our first shipment sold out so fast our distributor decided to wait until we’ve filled a massive order before another shipment.
Most of the thousands of visitors we’ve had since opening in April have a strong connection to Moonshine. We’ve got a great team making a great product and a wonderful brand that tells a story that belongs to many families in Tennessee.
Nothing beats seeing hard work so appreciated in so many different ways. Lately, it’s seeing how other people use our product, from co-branded cookies and cake to candies. Our Moonshine is showing up on menus. We even saw our product recently used in a funeral of a very dear friend and huge fan of our authentic Tennessee Moonshine. It’s been nothing short of amazing to feel such a deep and powerful connection with customers.
I haven’t submitted our product to contests yet, but I’m so proud to see it next to the hard work of other new Tennessee brands now emerging that share our state’s rich whiskey making heritage with the world. There are big things on the horizon for whiskey lovers in Tennessee thanks to the energy and vision of some truly remarkable people who I look forward to working with more and more.
I’m certainly not the first person to infuse bacon into alcoholic beverages. A quick search led me to a number of very informative posts by fellow bacon lovers who all seem to use roughly the same process called “fat washing.” Here’s how Southern California mixologist Don Lee describes it.
The fat is actually what makes this infusion possible. Fat is non-polar, while drinking alcohol (40% abv) is mostly water and thus polar. This prevents the fat from being dissolved into the alcohol. The alcohol itself (ethanol), however is both polar and nonpolar, allowing water to be dissolved into itself as well fat soluble compounds. What this means is that flavorful compounds from the fat will transfer into the alcohol while keeping the fat itself separate. This, combined with the higher freezing point of fat v. low freezing point of alcohol makes it possible to solidify the fat in a standard freezer and easy to remove.
Lee uses 1 oz. of rendered bacon fat in a 750ml bottle of bourbon. It’s the same recipe Jacob Grier says PDT uses in New York. You may be confident that you won’t screw up a whole 750ml bottle of bourbon or moonshine. I’m not. So, here’s my recipe that should make at least six cocktails.
Bacon infused Moonshine and Bourbon:
4-6 strips of thick hickory smoked bacon
6 ounces of bourbon (I used Buffalo Trace Kentucky Straight Bourbon) or moonshine or both
Cook the bacon and collect a tablespoon of rendered bacon fat. Pour it into 6 ounces of bourbon or moonshine and let sit for two hours. This is probably a larger ratio of bacon to bourbon or moonshine than other recipes, but I love bacon. You can shove the bacon in your moonshine or your mouth or both. I did both.
After the bacon flavor has been taken by the spirit, pour into a plastic cup and place into the freezer until all the fat solidifies. This may take a few hours. Remove the fat, filter and serve neat or in cocktails that are complimented by a smokey (smokey maple bourbon) flavor.
They’re pink, blue and white and represent a good year’s worth of ignoring television and Twitter.
This isn’t all of the permits required before we can legally sell our authentic Tennessee Moonshine, but combined with the others they ought to get us from Memphis to Bristol without too much worry about going to prison. Now if we can keep the ’51 Chevy pickup under 70MPH as we travel the state, we should be fine.
Yesterday, I showed you a glimpse of our federally approved label for Short Mountain Shine along with the news that we signed distribution deals with all four regions of the state of Tennessee.
I thought I’d throw this photo of the bottle out there after a failed attempt yesterday to photograph the bottle for an upcoming tourism pamphlet. This isn’t an image we’d use, but it showed just enough to tease, and I’m a teaser. You can tell we used a sample label sent to us by our printer.
You’ll be able to taste a sample and purchase a bottle at our distillery on Short Mountain in Woodbury, TN once we open in late March. Shortly after that, it will be in stores throughout Middle Tennessee’s 36 county distribution region.
If it sounds familiar, that’s because it’s already famous. Most old-timers in Middle Tennessee know something about it, and it was sung about by Uncle Dave Macon on the October 1939 NBC television debut of the Grand Ole Opry. Who knows? Maybe one day the bottle will make a special appearance on one of country music’s biggest nights.
Short Mountain Shine is a respectable 105 proof authentic Tennessee Moonshine made from a family recipe handed down for generations. As Billy likes to say, “It’s the best moonshine ever made, made even better.”
Sacha and Billy open one of the boxes of Golden Rule coins.
Billy’s great grandfather, Jesse Shwayder, never missed an opportunity to attribute the success of the iconic American brand Samsonite to the Golden Rule. He even went out of his way to communicate this deeply held philosophy in a very special way as mentioned in this TIME magazine article from 1965.
The world’s largest manufacturer of luggage is named after the Bible’s powerful Samson. Its president has a name to match: King David. The firm’s official corporate philosophy is the Bible’s Golden Rule: “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.”* All company officers and salesmen carry a marble encircled by a gold band on which the Golden Rule is printed, take it out for inspiration when they have a business decision to make.
This philosophical approach — wedded to some pragmatic business practices—has paid off handsomely for Denver’s Samsonite Corp. The firm now accounts for more than a quarter of all U.S. luggage sold, and its sales last year reached a record $55.9 million. Last week, as orders from vacation-bound Americans flooded into Denver, Samsonite raised its 1965 sales estimate from $60 million to $64 million.
Last week, a package arrived with a very special coin inside that will come with every bottle of our authentic Tennessee Moonshine, Short Mountain Shine. They’re Golden Rule coins bearing the moon and the stars, and we hope they shine a little light into your world.
Homemade moonshine is often proofed by “checking the bead,” shaking it to see the size and duration of bubbles.
Most people around the world know Tennessee for two things: country music and whiskey. They kinda go together if you think about it. Since a change in state law allowed more distilleries, whiskey’s spirited cousin promises to put Tennessee moonshine on the global map.
Ole Smoky plans to open second distillery
Ole Smoky Distillery, a Tennessee-based moonshine distillery, plans to expand operations and open its second distillery in the Smoky Mountain town to meet the demand for its products. Ole Smoky co-owner Joe Baker said he and Chuck Edwards have purchased Legends Restaurant on the downtown Parkway and will make different spirits at that site.
‘Full Throttle Saloon’ TV star plans to open distillery in Trimble
Ballard, the star of the wildly popular reality series “Full Throttle Saloon” on the truTV network and successful business owner, received permission from the Trimble Board of Mayor and Aldermen to open a 9,000-square-foot moonshine distillery at the eastern end of South Main Street, where a cotton gin once stood.
At Short Mountain Distillery, we just received federal label approval for our first moonshine: Short Mountain Shine, a 105 proof authentic Tennessee moonshine. It’s made using a family recipe handed down for generations made with organic corn and spring water from our farm.
When our welder saw all the lights being set up Friday he joked with Ricky that we were going to make him famous. I told him he better get Ricky’s autograph while he can.
If it weren’t for a final piece of compliance I would have had all three of our moonshiners fire up the still right then just to warm us all up. The temperature in the shiner’s shack must have been close to freezing, but once the shiner’s took their jackets off for photos and the stories started flying, the room warmed right up.
Friday was one of those personal moments of pride after looking through the photos and seeing and feeling the history we are about to make together. I can’t wait for you to meet these living legends of our state’s whiskey making heritage.