Jeremy, thank you very much for joining us on the Mixer Direct Blog! For starters, can you tell us a little bit about your story and how it connected to a path in the distilling industry?
My grandfather was a bootlegger (back in the day when bootlegging was so infamous) on the very farm I purchased and now farm. I started my legal distillery on this very farm because I want to honor the legacy and tradition of what life once was by making the very spirit he used to. Bootlegging was born out of pure economic necessity to survive and provide for your family back in its day.
Paint us a word picture. What does a normal day at Broadslab Distillery look like?
Chaos! My phone is constantly ringing and I am constantly getting emails. So, I try to answer both the phone and emails in between my distiller jobs which can, on any given day, include preparing mash, running the still, proofing, bottling, order supplies, preparing pallets for shipment, providing tours and telling my story to visitors, tending my corn and beans that I grown on my farm, etc. I am a mostly a one-man show, but I do get administrative help from my wife.
If you had to pick favorites, what is your spirit of choice?
The product my distillery was founded on-Broadslab Legacy Shine. It is my grandfather's recipe and the 1st product I produced.
How does the distilling process in North Carolina differ from other states?
NC is a "controlled state" which means that the only way my spirits can be sold in NC is thru the NC ABC system. I have to ship my product to a warehouse in Raleigh, NC and then depend on brokers and advertising and hope every one of the approximately 166 ABC Boards in NC will decide to purchase my products to sell in the retail stores they operate. Unfortunately, the chances of that happening is next to nothing. Even if a customer goes into a ABC store on several occasions asking for one of my products, the Board overseeing that store can decide not to purchase my product. I know this scenario happens because it has happened to me. For now, I can't even sell a bottle of liquor to a visitor to my distillery and tasting room. I have to tell them to go to the local ABC store that carries it.
If you could sit down and have a drink with any person in history who would you choose and why?
I wish I could talk to my great-great grandfather, William "Bill" McLamb because my grandfather has told me some of his bootlegging stories and I would love to hear more.
What is the biggest obstacle you have had to overcome as a distiller?
My biggest obstacle has been trying to overcome the massive marketing effort that it takes in this industry. I did not realize how expensive and time consuming and hard it would be to get my products in the marketplace.
Broadslab is known for using techniques that have been in use for over five generations of master distillers. Can you share a little bit about how these techniques set you apart as a distillery?
Well, I have family secrets I choose not to share, but I can promise you that the spirits I make are all-natural and produced at my distillery (I do not use neutral grain spirits in my products). I grow, on my farm, a special type of white corn that I malt and grind and use in my mash bill. This entire process is critical to the smooth tasting spirits I produce.
What advice would you give to those who are contemplating starting a distillery?
My advice to anyone starting a distillery is to know and understand fully what starting and operating a distillery entails and make sure you have enough capital to get it off the ground like it should be.
What Broadslab products are you most excited about in 2015?
We have just unleashed our AppleShine, which seems to be a hit, and we hope to have one more by October, but I want to keep that a secret for now!
If you could change one thing about distilleries in America, what would it be?
Well, I don't know about America, but the one thing I want to see change in North Carolina is the allowing of distilleries to sell the products they make and bottle to the public. Do you know how frustrating it is to manufacture a product and not be able to sell it to someone who wants it without it having to go to a special store to be purchased? I have visitors every week touring my distillery and I can't sell them a bottle of my liquor, not even one. That is frustrating.
Thank you for sharing about Broadslab Distillery in North Carolina and for stopping by the blog!
Where can I find or buy Broadslab Distillery products?
You can order Broadslab Distillery products from Catskill Cellars. They carry Broadslab's Legacy Shine and Carolina Coast Spiced Rum. They also have a retailer out of South Carolina that can ship products. You can get your hands on some Broadslab products by emailing Jeff at firstname.lastname@example.org or call his liquor store (Sea Pines) at 843 363 2200. Broadslab products can also be found at North Carolina ABC stores and you may be lucky and find them in some Georgia and South Carolina stores too.
Photos Courtesy of Broadslab Distillery