Florida microdistillers trying to catch lightning in a bottle

on 21/12/10 at 12:49 pm

Spirits

Making moonshine is easier than selling it even with growth of microdistilleries.

Jimmy Day has a great line he uses to describe his current occupation:

“My family’s been making whiskey for 146 years,” he says. “I’ve been licensed since March.”

He is fully legal these days, but his operation isn’t quite as romantic as our vision of moonshiners tending their stills hidden back in the woods. Day operates Flagler Spirits out of a nondescript industrial park not far from U.S. 1, fermenting his mash, distilling and bottling the liquor: Whiskey from local corn, vodka from local potatoes and rum from Belle Glade molasses.

The only giveaway that anything unusual is going on in there is the sign reading “Flagler Spirits, spirit conjurers and alchemists.”

Down in Umatilla, Dick and Marti Waters are making their own small batches of oak-cured bourbon-style whiskey.

They’re both just small, one- and two-man operations, part of just a handful of these microdistilleries or artisan distilleries in Florida now. Day makes about 100 gallons each of rum and vodka, along with 1,000 of corn whiskey on a good month, but half of the corn whiskey is shipped to Tennessee where other distillers use it in their blends.

“What Baccardi spills on the floor in one day,” he said, “would be a good year for us.”

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