Appalachian distillery to expand WV moonshine production - Beckley, Bluefield & Lewisburg News, Weather, Sports

Appalachian distillery to expand WV moonshine production

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Dwayne and Sandra Freeman are constructing a Jackson County distillery. A December opening is planned at the Fairplain facility. Dwayne and Sandra Freeman are constructing a Jackson County distillery. A December opening is planned at the Fairplain facility.
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FAIRPLAIN, WV -

Moonshine is being made in West Virginia — legally.

Once connected to the backyard still concoctions of "ridge runners" trying to stay one step ahead of government "revenuers," six distillery businesses currently operate in the Mountain State with more on the way. 

Bloomery Plantation Distillery of Charles Town, Forks of Cheat Winery & Distillery and West Virginia Distillery Co. LLC of Morgantown, Pinchgut Hollow Distillery of Fairmont, Isaiah Morgan Distillery of Summersville and Smooth Ambler Spirits Distillery of Maxwelton in Greenbrier County are the state's existing operations, according to the Department of Commerce website.

Appalachian Distillery LLC has plans to join the list. 

Dwayne and Sandra Freeman are constructing a 10,000-square foot facility just off the Fairplain interchange of Interstate 77. Starting with a half-dozen employees, owners say the operation could eventually have a staff of 15. 

The Jackson County Development Authority and the West Virginia Economic Development Agency have been assisting with the financing.

"There's plenty of room for everybody," said Dwayne Freeman, a Mingo County native who moved his family to Jackson County more than a decade ago. "It's something we've wanted to do for a couple of years now. I've been making wine for 25 years."

Freeman said he's a distant relative of the Hatfield clan of feud fame.

"Some of my family were moonshiners," the coal miner by trade said, referring to his time-tested family recipes. 

Times, and laws, have changed, he says, noting the current trend of distilleries producing spirits and micro-breweries making locally made craft beers.

"I think the small artisan, the distiller and brewer make a better product," Freeman said. "It's the people who are making custom, craft beers who take a lot of pride in their drink. 

"The micro-breweries are making good stuff."

Just as the beer commercials claim, there are no shortcuts in the spirit-making process, according to Freeman. 

"You start out with good ingredients," he said, referencing state-of-the-art equipment. "Anybody can make moonshine, but you can't just throw something together. 

"If you start out with bad stuff, you're going to have bad stuff. You have to have the proper ingredients and the right mixture."

He hopes to be in production before the holiday season with approximately six employees. Once approved by the West Virginia Alcohol Beverage Control Administration, Appalachian Distillery will begin distributing its corn whiskey moonshine along with flavors such as peach, blackberry and even apple pie.

The Fairplain headquarters will offer tours, sampling and products from a small storeroom. 

"There will not be drinking on the premises," said Freeman. 

Appalachian Distillery will be marketed through retail locations in the region and at bars, including the neighboring Fairplain Yacht Club.

Freeman says he's serious about promoting West Virginia moonshine.

"I'm going to try to buy everything in-state," he said of the ingredients. "Hopefully, I can get the right grains with the right moisture and sugar content here."

Moonshine will be the staple of Appalachian Distillery, but spirits such as vodka and gin may be added to the selection.

"We're going to get in business and go with our main product, but we may branch off later," he said. "Anything's possible. 

"Who knows where we'll go with it once we get started. I've got some secret (flavors) I'm going to come out with."