One of the most attention-getting posts on this blog is this one about buying your own moonshine still. The lead article in today’s Salon.com is titled “Moonshine Returns,” and a trip to my local liquor store revealed a display from Leopold Bros, a craft distiller in Denver. I feel like the spirit world is compelling me to opine.
The Salon.com piece discusses how craft distilling, combining a nod from the slow food movement with a recession dose of thrift, would be a natural to follow the same path as home-made wine and brewing. But it’s not. And why? As writer Catherine Price puts it, “I’ll tell you why not: Distilling homemade spirits is a felony. Unlike wine or beer, which you’re allowed to make at home for personal use, making any sort of untaxed spirit on an unlicensed still remains very much illegal, punishable by a federal fine of up to $10,000 and five years in jail for each offense, plus state penalties.”
That sounds pretty fierce. All the more reason that craft distilling should be encouraged in Tennessee. Are you in a small town that needs some visitors? Set up a legal still and people will come see you. If you build it, they will come. They will watch. They will sample. And they will come back with their friends.
It’s not that hard to do, which brings me to the Leopold Brothers. According to their website, “Master Distiller Todd Leopold personally handcrafts every spirit we produce in a 40 gallon hand-hammered copper pot still that is so small you could literally wrap your arms around it.” Forty gallons–that’s all? Colonel Wilson will sell you a beautiful 30-gallon still pictured below for $2,075 plus shipping.
Believe it or not, Wyoming is getting into the craft whiskey business. Wyoming Whiskey Distillery, according to this article, is getting rolling in a town of 57 people. Tennessee needs to get on this bandwagon.
What are you waiting for?