Tag: family business (Page 2 of 3)

Fall in the Shenandoah Valley


Here we are in the last weeks of Fall, the harvest season over and time to brace for cold winters and embrace new memories this holiday season. For us it was a flurry of activity from parades and tastings, to opening our barn for tourism. All while behind the scenes expansion of new equipment to bring us to the next chapter of producing a new product, our Founder’s Day Bourbon to you that we are as proud of as our Moonshine.


Mountain State Apple Harvest Parade 2015 | Martinsburg, WV


Boydville Mansion Tasting  |  Martinsburg, WV

And speaking of tastings…our barn is now open for tours on Fridays and Saturdays, call 540-686-0100 or info@info@blackdraftdistillery.com for more details. We would love to have you visit to see our behind the scenes, taste our products and swap the perfect recipes for cocktailing with our Moonshine.




Greetings from West Virginia! Part One


As the summer cruises along, we are hitting the road to visit great places around our wonderful state and the meet the best damn West Virginian’s you will ever find anywhere (can you tell I’m a little biased ).

Recently I traveled to the Northern Panhandle and the town of Weirton, WV for a tasting event at Basil’s Sports Bar & Grill. This is a true gem of the area, a real locals spot for families, league players, moms night out gals and just about anyone who appreciates an evening out with great food. Owner Pete Basil not only serves up a kickass menu of goodies (and he can make some mean BBQ let me tell ya), but he really knows how to make an excellent cocktail with our moonshine. IMG_7440

When we do our tasting events and introduce our moonshine, I show guests how versatile corn whiskey really is to mix a drink with, even one like ours that leaves the corn flavor it rather than distill it to almost vodka. When making a cocktail, you just need to add to your recipe a mixing ingredient that will neutralize the corn flavor so it won’t overpower the taste.  Adding something acidic, like a sour mix, triple sec, or even a lemons and limes, will build the foundation of a perfect drink.

BasilsTastingJun2015.1Now back to the tasting…

As I was doing the tasting, Pete served up five cocktails for me to try with our moonshine during the evening. From a Bloody Mary to tiki-style beach drinks, each one was a “perfect” balance of the cocktail to our corn whiskey. I loved that he knew just the right amount of ingredients to use, but still kept the sweet corn there, no masking heavily with fruit juices or adding two or more liquors. Anyone can add ingredients till there is no ‘shine left in the drink, but it takes someone special to bring out the unique flavors of a spirit into the cocktail. Pete is a true ‘shiner.

Drink ingredients are show in images, thanks to Pete for sharing them with us:

BasilsTastingJun2015.5           BasilsTastingJun2015.7


We can’t wait to return in the Fall for another tasting and sure to find even more goodies Pete will have whipped up for us all to enjoy!

What more recipes? Visit our recipe page here.

—Shine On!




Country Roads

Time to hit the roads this springtime and visit all the beautiful, wonderful parts of my home state of West-by God-Virginia!  The sweet spring air is calling me to the mountain roads to visit the great folks here in the state and discover the hidden gems along the way. I enjoy meeting all the small businesses that are the backbone of our state, the mom and pop places as I affectionately call them.

As I start out on my journey, I begin by sharing  one of the newest restaurants to open here in downtown Martinsburg, Boyd’s SteakhouseDSC_0006.

Owner H.D. Boyd turned this once notorious speakeasy location into a fine dining steakhouse with a wink and a nod to the Prohibition era, including a bar purchased from the estate of Al Capone, now serving up bourbon and and our moonshine in style.



Five cocktail recipes featuring First Harvest Moonshine are on the menu, including one of the best all time recipes Glen and I have ever tasted, called ‘Almost Heaven.’ It is the go-to cocktail for friends and family to sip on a warm spring day or savor over Blue Ridge sunsets from our back deck.



Mixologist maven Caren served up my cocktail and shared a little secret on how to create this shine-tini at home. We call it ‘Country Roads.’

Stayed tuned for more stories from our adventures from the road.

Shine On!




West Virginia is Moonshine

This article is originally posted on the West Virginia Encyclopedia’s website and gives an excellent history of moonshine. Author attribution is listed below. 

The making of illegal or moonshine whiskey has a long history in West Virginia and elsewhere. The word entered the English language about 1785 when white brandy was smuggled on the southeast England coast of Kent and Sussex. Those who made or transported the beverage worked under moonlight to escape the law. Moonshine is illegal because producers do not abide by state or federal laws regarding the licensure, manufacture, sale, and taxation of distilled spirits.

In West Virginia, field corn, soft creek water, and industrious farmers came together to make moonshine, sometimes also called mountain dew or white lightning. Moonshine is typically 100-proof whiskey, aged little or none, and was an important cash crop. So long as revenue agents did not cause trouble, making moonshine was an efficient and profitable way to market corn. With a good still, one-and-a-half bushels of corn was reduced to a gallon of whiskey, which was worth more than the grain itself and less bulky to transport.West Virginia moonshine still

From the mid-18th century, settlers from Scotland, Ireland, Wales, and England came to the mountains with distilling equipment and the necessary know how. They quickly adapted their Old World recipes to include American field corn. Whiskey was drunk in far greater quantities than today and used to barter for salt, nails, and taxes. Some used it to buy property, and a good copper still and the condensing coil or ‘‘worm’’ had considerable value themselves.

On March 3, 1791, soon after the colonies became a nation, Congress imposed the first taxes on stills and whiskey. Such laws caused the 1794 Whiskey Rebellion, an uprising in western Pennsylvania and parts of present West Virginia. The settlers, mainly Scotch-Irish, saw the tax as unfair. President Washington himself led troops to stop the rioting, and the federal government kept the tax in force for 11 years. Whiskey remained untaxed from then until 1862, except for three years following the War of 1812.

About 1910, states began to enact state prohibition laws in anticipation of the great national drought soon to follow. West Virginia prohibition took effect in 1914. Then, from 1920 until 1933 the U.S. government enforced nationwide prohibition, causing a dramatic increase in moon shining. Even when national prohibition ended, parts of the South remained dry. In any case, some imbibers remained partial to clear mountain whiskey, and illegal distilling continued. After 1950, as local prohibition laws were voted out and economic conditions improved, the demand for illegal whiskey fell and production of moonshine declined.

Mountaineers traditionally used corn in making moonshine. The first step was to sprout the corn, then crush the sprouted grain and mix with water. This mixture, called mash, was fermented in open barrels. If moonshiners had yeast and used it, the fermentation took up to four days; if they didn’t have yeast and if the weather was cool, fermentation took longer, maybe two weeks. When fermentation was complete, the mildly alcoholic liquid, now called beer, was ready to distill or ‘‘run off.’’ The beer was heated in the still’s pot or copper kettle to the temperature, well below boiling, when alcoholic vapors rise from the liquid. These vapors were condensed back to liquid in the worm, a coil of copper tubing which passes through a cooling water bath. Each batch was typically run off two or more times to get the maximum whiskey from the fixings.

Illegal whiskey is still made and readily available to those who know where to look for it. Homemade corn liquor is just about a thing of the past, however, since sugar is now usually substituted for most of the grain.

Story credit:
Sohn, Mark F. “Moonshine.” e-WV: The West Virginia Encyclopedia. 20 October 2010.
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