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Short Mountain Distillery: celebrating a year of success

March 23rd, 2013 2 comments

single bottle barrels

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
  • we appeared in over 100 media pieces, including a three-part Discovery Channel mini-series How Booze Built America
  • we surpassed every industry consultant’s benchmark for success and helped ignite an American moonshine revival

Short Mountain Groundhog says expect an early Spring

February 2nd, 2013 No comments

That’s word from atop the highest point in Middle Tennessee as the Short Mountain Groundhog fails to see its shadow on a very snowy and overcast Groundhog Day morning.

This 40 year old groundhog belonged to our exterminator until his mamma scared his dog into traffic with it earlier this year. He couldn’t bear to look at it anymore, so he brought it to the Still House where it comes out once a year.

You can see it for yourself next time you visit. It loves posing in family pictures.

It doesn’t have a fancy name like its cousin “Punxsutawney Phil.” We just call it Groundhog and use “it” a lot because no one has bothered to check its 40 year old business.

We use it to figure out when to plant the corn. You might want to as well!

Short Mountain Distillery launches Apple Pie Moonshine

October 16th, 2012 3 comments

Short Mountain Distillery’s official launch of our Apple Pie Moonshine is Saturday November 10, 2012 at the Still House 9am – 4pm.

Be sure to bring your favorite lawn chair and warm jacket and enjoy a day of mule wagon rides, lite lunch served by The Blue Porch and music from the Tennessee Mafia Jug Band. The crew from Hazard Life will also be here with replicas of the entire Dukes of Hazard fleet.

Come join us for free moonshine tastings as well as an opportunity to purchase some of the first bottles of Short Mountain Apple Pie Moonshine!

WINTER SCHEDULE ANNOUNCEMENT: Beginning Nov. 10, Short Mountain Distillery will begin our winter schedule with extended holiday store hours. From Nov. 10, 2012 – March 20, 2013, tours are limited to scheduled charter buses. Our store hours will be Thursday, Friday and Saturday 9 a.m. – 4 p.m.

Short Mountain Distillery brings regional tourism to Cannon County

August 30th, 2012 No comments

Billy Kaufman knew he had something more than just another moonshine to share with the world. The three moonshiners he knew before seeking the public’s support to build the distillery in 2010 had a story to share that was unique to the South and Tennessee in particular. And more than that, it’s the story of survival in hard times. It’s Cannon County’s story.

Open for just a few months, Short Mountain Distillery has logged more than 5,000 visitors who come to experience our unique whiskey making history and heritage. They come from Woodbury and surrounding counties as well as visitors from several states, all taking home a craving for the moonshine that reconnects them with the artisan and craft spirit of America.

Here is an excerpt from an article by Dan Whittle after his recent visit to get a “snort on Short.”

Woodbury Mayor Harold Patrick echoes the optimism of “new revenue” being triggered by Short Mountain Distillery’s presence: “Woodbury and Cannon County have long been known for our crafts’ men and women, particularly for our unique basket weaving traditions. Now, the Short Mountain Distillery brings another longtime Cannon tradition to light, the making of moonshine, but now, it’s legal.”

“A spinoff benefit of the Mountain’s increased tourism, which brings clean dollars that require no increase in school rooms, roads or taxes,” the mayor added. “We’re beginning to see more bus tours and family tours coming specifically to historic Cannon County and Woodbury… ranging from our picturesque Public Square to the majesty of Short Mountain.”

Tennessee Back Roads, Grits & Moonshine Tour

Sometimes it’s good to leave the driving to someone that knows all the back roads when searching for Tennessee’s hidden treasures. That’s the idea behind a new bus tour that will soon bring visitors on a day trip through Cannon County!

The bus tour is a joint project between folks at the Rutherford and Cannon County Chambers of Commerce eager to share a slice of our history and heritage with the world.

The day long bus tour takes visitors to Short Mountain Distillery to see how authentic Tennessee Moonshine is made on a 300 acre working farm. The distillery uses traditional processes, organically grown corn that’s stone-milled on site and water from a natural cave spring. Visitors will then see how the community once relied on the power of the Stones River to mill grains at the historic Readyville Mill. Lunch will be provided by the Blue Porch @ the Arts Center where visitors can learn how local folk crafts of basket and chair making kept families fed during the Great Depression. The day will wrap up with antique shopping on the square in Woodbury, TN.

At each stop our guests will receive complimentary gifts to go along with the warm smiles and hospitality you could only find on a day’s adventures through rural America.

This tour is not for individuals, but if you are interested in taking this tour with a pre-formed group of friends, co-workers or civic groups who already have motor coach service, contact the Rutherford County Convention & Visitors Bureau’s Barbara Wolke at (615) 278-2327 or visit ReadySetRutherford.com. Tickets are $39 per person and includes lunch and gifts. We look forward to seeing you in Cannon County!

Inside the Tennessee Squire Room at Jack Daniel’s

Tennessee Squire Room
A slightly blurry photo of the Tennessee Squire Room at Jack Daniel’s Distillery

You may not have realized it before, but there’s a secret room at Jack Daniel’s Distillery in Lynchburg, TN that not even the tour guides are allowed to talk about. It’s called the Tennessee Squire Room.

It was built 12 years ago as a 25 x 14 room trimmed and floored in pine and densely packed with pieces of history shared by other Tennessee Squires. The website for Tennessee Squires is password protected, and if you weren’t aware the Tennessee Squire Room even existed upon your visit you won’t find the distillery staff willing to help you discover it. It’s that kind of secret.

On my first visit to the Tennessee Squire Room, I was asked to sit at the back of the main lobby. Moments later, a woman appeared and asked if I had a tour. When I told her I had, she smiled patiently and said nothing like it was my turn to guide the conversation. I took the hint and told her I was a Tennessee Squire. “Right this way,” she said, briefly mentioning she would have waited all day for me to say so.

To become a Tennessee Squire, you gotta love Jack, and you have to be nominated by a current Squire who can only nominate one person in their entire lifetime. I have Bartt Baird, a former co-worker at WKRN-TV, to thank for my nomination.

As a Tennessee Squire, you get a very nice gold-embossed deed to a small plot of land and a certificate making you an honorary citizen of Moore County. You’ll occasionally receive letters from locals asking permission to let their cows graze your land or problems with skunks or possums. You also get to hang out in the Tennessee Squire Room and share the Jack Daniel’s experience through the many items left by other Squires. You’ll find one I left among the challenge coins, and I’ve probably already told you too much.

A fortunate problem

Moonshine rations

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.

A sneak peek at Short Mountain Shine

January 27th, 2012 No comments

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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.”

The Golden Rule coin

January 21st, 2012 No comments

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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.

Demand for Tennessee moonshine on the rise

January 18th, 2012 No comments

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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.

More moonshine distilleries in the planning stages:

‘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.

Tennessee has a few moonshines on the market in addition to Ole Smoky. Collier and McKeel’s White Dog is a traditional sour mash recipe of corn, rye and malted barley used to make their aged Tennessee Whiskey. Popcorn Sutton’s Tennessee White Whiskey uses a recipe of a third generation Moonshiner that lived and distilled his moonshine whiskey in Cocke County. Corsair offers Wry Moon Unaged Kentucky Whiskey and Pumpkin Spice Moonshine and Prichard’s Distillery produces Lincoln County Lightning Whiskey.

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.