Craft liquor is the newest horizon in the craft beverage industry. What better setting to experience it in than Franklin County, VA, with its unique and colorful chapters in the annals of moonshine. Need further convincing? Here are the Top Reasons to sign up for and take the Appalachian ‘Shine and Spirits Tour.
Taste What All the Buzz Is About
You’ve heard of moonshine, you know a touch of its outlaw history. But have you ever tried it? Here’s your chance. These local spirits are smooth, oh-so-drinkable, and downright delicious. This is NOT cheap tasteless liquor but a craft beverage using recipes passed down through generations and made from wholesome local fruit and grain. On the ‘Shine and Spirits Tour, you’ll taste sips of ’shine and spirits from two Franklin County distilleries, Twin Creeks Distillery and Franklin County Distilleries. The tour offers locally-made whiskeys and brandies. Of course, to be completely accurate, what you’ll be tasting is not moonshine any longer, it’s legal now.
When was the last time you sampled liquors straight up, in a flight? It’s likely been a while — or maybe never. However, when you do so, you really appreciate the taste and aroma of the ingredients. Corn whiskey, darn it smells and tastes like corn! Which do you like best? The peach, apple, grape or blackberry brandy? In addition to the flights, you’ll have the option to try a delicious cocktail too.
When it comes to moonshine, Franklin County was the epicenter of the action. Historians estimate that in the 1920s, 99 out of every 100 Franklin County residents were involved in ’shine in some way. This tour tells the thrilling tale of Virginia’s whiskey, from farmers to drivers to bootleggers. From the days when more sugar was shipped by rail to Franklin County than to New York City. And from one of the most famous trials of the Prohibition era.
Hear About the Men Who Grew Up With the Legacy
The owners and distillers of both distilleries on the tour have family ties to backwoods whiskey. Both use century-old, passed-down recipes and methods to make their moonshine. Owner and Master Distiller of Twin Creeks Distillery Chris Prillaman’s great-grandfather was convicted in “The Great Conspiracy Trial of 1935.” Owner of Franklin County Distilleries, Dan Hodges, has connections to Curtis Turner, one of the founders of NASCAR, who started driving to deliver the ’shine his father distilled. Local lore has it that Turner outran the law every time.
Tap Into the Craft Distilling Trend
There’s history in every glass of Franklin County liquor, yes, but there’s also artistry. Just as craft brewers have innovated the beer scene, craft distillers are nudging spirits-making into a small-batch, local ingredients direction. This tour is your chance to taste the diversity of locally-made liquor and to appreciate the skill and know-how that goes into every bottle.
The ‘Shine and Spirits Tour meets and begins at The Hive, the Roanoke tasting room for Carroll County’s Blacksnake Meadery. While mead is not moonshine, it is a delicious fermentation of honey. You won’t be sorry you sipped this elixir. You’ll likely be surprised at how many different tastes honey can make.
Bring Home Spirits to Share
Love what you taste? The whiskeys, brandies, meads and more on the tour are all for sale. This is your chance to stock your cabinet with specialty, local liquors — some of which are available only in these tasting rooms. Not only will you be able to stir up killer cocktails, you’ll have tales to tell your dinner guests, too.
Front and center in the Franklin County Distilleries tasting room are two stunning stills, hundreds of years old and shipped from Lyon, France. At Twin Creeks Distillery you’ll see an “old-timey” submarine still used to make their spirits. This still is exactly like the ones you’d find in the hollers of Franklin County during Prohibition. These stills reveal yet another dimension on the ‘Shine and Spirits Tour: the history of distilling is deep and ever-evolving. By sipping the tour’s samples, you’re partaking in centuries of craft-making.
Put Prohibition Out to Pasture
A great story in its own right is the tale of the tasting room at Franklin County Distilleries. Until November 2017, it was illegal to buy a glass of liquor in the town of Boones Mill, VA. Through a campaign of community building and shoe leather, distillery backers were able to repeal the last Prohibition restriction in the wettest county in the world. You can drink to that.
Appreciate Moonshine’s History
Franklin County’s first moonshine makers were immigrant farmers, mostly Scotch-Irish. These were hard-working pioneers supporting their families using their traditions and agricultural skills — including distilling liquor. This tour helps to celebrate and remember them.
See Franklin County in a New Light
Ever traveled in Franklin County? On this tour, you’ll see bustling Boones Mill, the crossroads where Franklin County Distilleries has its production facility and tasting room. On the way to Twin Creeks Distillery in Henry, you’ll pass family farms and hear talk of Rocky Mount’s happening music venue, Harvester Performance Center, as well the vacation attraction, Smith Mountain Lake. Franklin County has, of late, trained its focus on tourism. When you taste the locally grown corn and spring mountain water distilled into your ’shine, you’ll be sampling this emerging destination, too.
This new tour by Tour Roanoke will offer at least two public tour dates per month starting April 2018. Private group tours are also available – great for special occasions and group outings.
Please contact Tour Roanoke with questions about this tour or any of the other local adventures offered.
(540) 309-1781 or info@TourRoanoke.com.
Christina is a freelance writer with a focus on local food. When she’s not digging in her garden or stirring up a new dish for dinner, she loves to sample Roanoke’s expanding culinary scene. Read more of what she’s writing at christinanifong.com..