Posts Tagged ‘John Whittemore’

Trucker’s Pride – organic open pollinated corn

Our Moonshiners tell us Trucker’s Pride is about as good as it gets when looking for a variety of corn to make shine, but it’s a little hard to come by, so we’re making our own.

In this video, Short Mountain Distillery’s John Whittemore talks about the choices we make in farming practices. Special thanks to Jeff Schuler for shooting and sharing this video.

The one row corn picker

December 18th, 2011 1 comment

Jeff Schuler stopped by and filmed John Whittemore harvesting some of our first organic corn crop earlier this Fall with an old borrowed one row corn picker.

You’d be on to something if you imagined it took John a few days in between the rain. It’s all we got right now, but next year we’re getting a little help from our neighbors.

Old moonshiner’s still finds new home on Short Mountain

October 22nd, 2011 No comments

moonshine still

Short Mountain Distillery’s Ricky Estes and John Whittemore set up Ricky’s old moonshine still visitors will see on display at Stillhouse #1. It’s one of very few in Tennessee to survive decades of persistent moonshine busts.

This particular still was built by Emory Bragg and purchased by Mr. Estes back in the 60s or 70s. Some people might know Emory for a bank robbery that sent him to prison back in the day, and still fewer might have known him for his moonshine.

The still has gone through a couple small changes over the years, especially after it blew up and nearly took Ricky with it. For the most part the still made some of the best moonshine to come off Short Mountain. We can’t really say how recent that might have been, but you can rest assured this federally registered still now has a permanent and proud home at Short Mountain Distillery.

Fall workshop: How to grow Shiitake mushrooms

October 17th, 2011 No comments

John Whittemore shares how to grow Shiitake mushrooms on a native white oak log. If done right, these logs will produce mushrooms for several years.

Nothing goes better with good friends and good drinks than good food. Saturday October 29 at 2 p.m. Short Mountain Distillery is offering our first workshop on cultivating your own Shiitake mushroom log. This workshop is in conjunction with Little Short Mountain Farm. Space is very limited and available by reservation and $30 by emailing John Whittemore at or calling 615-216-0830.

John has been growing Shiitake mushrooms for market and personal use for seven years. Guests will use a drill to inoculate their own white oak log with Shiitake mycelium from Summertown, TN and learn how you can keep it producing several pounds of these beneficial mushrooms for years to come.

Honoring the old ways through organic practices

August 14th, 2011 No comments

John Whittemore shares how organic and permaculture farm practices used by Short Mountain Distillery honor our agricultural heritage. You can hear the guys from the CO-OP putting together our grain bin in the back ground.

Short Mountain Distillery planted 7 acres of organic corn you see featured in this video. The test went very well, and John is busy planning 20 rotational acres of organic corn on Billy’s 300 acre farm for next year.


There’s no rushing good flavor

August 21st, 2010 No comments

Lewis McEacharn at George Dickel

When Lewis McEacharn saw Billy Kaufman on the news this morning, he told his wife he wished he could meet these fellas trying to start that Short Mountain Distillery. You can imagine his surprise when we showed up at his place of work this morning.

McEacharn works at the George Dickel Distillery in Normandy, TN giving tours. We ended up getting a very nice private tour by Brandy (who reminded us she’s perfectly aware of the irony), but back in the gift shop, McEacharn thought he recognized Billy. He was right.

George Dickel DistilleryLike many folks we bump into, McEacharn is excited about the potential craft distillers have to share the rich history and vast recipes of legal moonshine. There’s a deep cultural connection people have with moonshine and other traditional American spirits.

McEacharn shared some old moonshine stories of his own, then took us aside to share some wisdom he gained distilling his own spirits as a younger man traveling the world.

McEarcharn took us to a display showing the basic distillation process and added something about flavor he learned through his own experience. You could see him tasting and smelling the mash by the look in his eyes and the movement of his hands as he described a critical process.

We’re definitely seeing a growing need to return the pleasure of meeting so many amazing people by providing a few private tours. Without giving away all of McEacharn’s advice, the bottom line is this. You can’t rush good flavor, and that’s good advice any way you look at it.

From water to shine on Short Mountain

August 18th, 2010 No comments

John Whittemore on FOX17Local farmers Billy Kaufman and John Whittemore spoke earlier today with WZTV Fox 17’s John Dunn. Skooter FarmDog even makes a cameo in this news clip.

In November, Cannon County voters will decide whether or not to allow a distillery to be built in the county. To Billy and John, it’s about honoring and preserving our way of life.

Up in the hills of Cannon County, Billy Kaufman hopes to turn water into shine.

“This water here is pure,” says Kaufman next to his mountain spring.

The organic farmer wants to open the Short Mountain Distillery here using old fashioned recipes for moonshine.

“One of the famous quotes for this area is without whiskey and baskets we all would have starved to death,” says Kaufman.

This November, Cannon County voters will have a referendum to decide if a distillery should be built here.

Kaufman promises at least a small number of jobs, and an increase in tourism.

“To me it’s about jobs and preserving our rural lifestyle,” says Billy Kaufman.

Local farmer sees opportunity in distillery

John WhittemoreParts of the road leading to John Whittemore’s place on Short Mountain can feel like someone’s private driveway at times. But once you’re there, you know it by his barking dogs and John’s commanding voice telling them to leave the car alone.

I caught up with John around 10 this morning to talk about signature gathering for the November referendum. John is excited about the opportunity a distillery would bring to Short Mountain and is helping gather necessary signatures to bring it to the people of Cannon County for a vote.

When I pulled up, John had just put in a good half a day’s work on his Blues Hill Farm and nearby Morning Side Farm. He looks every bit the part with his overalls, straw hat and occasional spit of tobacco juice, a habit he admits he picked up from his grandfather.

Despite the ups and downs of farming life, John says he has never been happier than he is farming. After he met his wife Becca and had two children, Hank (14) and Anna (12), John made the move back to the area in search of a quality of life he remembered growing up, and he found it on Short Mountain.

Everything John’s family needs is here. Becca, a Vanderbilt graduate, home-schools their two children. John not only appreciates local culture, he supports it in various ways. John occasionally plays with a group a friends in a band called the Short Mountain Boys. For years he provided white oak materials to local renowned basket makers through the White Oak Timber Co-Op. He even has an active Screen Actors Guild membership through acting in local performances at the Arts Center.

The Whittemores grow pretty much everything they need. They rarely shop at a grocery store, and what they don’t have they trade to get. A neighboring Mennonite family has milk and cheese. John will trade corn for beans, and there is no shortage of wild game. In fact, there’s not much you can’t get on Short Mountain, and it’s been that way for more than 100 years.

Back in the early 1900s, John’s great grandfather, Roofie Parker, made what family lore says was widely respected whiskey and moonshine. John thinks his brother Clay might have helped run it around the hills. The law didn’t like it, and Roofie spent a couple of stints in state prison for it.

Several descendants have had their share of run-ins with the law, but John’s grandfather, Kenneth Parker, didn’t like the outlaw lifestyle much. He had other ideas and bought up land around Roofie and his brother. Kenneth raised cattle and farmed the land. He has a road now named for him.

Any farmer will tell you farming is hard work. If you are looking to make a living, you’ll probably have to settle with making a life. Like most farmers, John stays busy to make ends meet, and he likes the idea of a distillery producing an American brand of traditional Tennessee spirits on Short Mountain.

For John, a distillery would protect a way of life he wants for his children. It would create a sustainable relationship with local farmers and connect tourists with a story of Short Mountain and the community John knows well and wants share. He also sees the opportunity it can bring to our schools and local community.

It’s an opportunity that can’t come to Cannon County without a referendum, and John is working hard to make that happen.

If you see John in Woodbury, stop him and say hi, and if you want to give the voters a chance to decide whether they want a distillery in Cannon County, you can sign his petition.