First Legal Distillery In The State

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By Sarah Cantey

The illegal backwoods moonshining business is booming, especially in Bullock County where multiple illegal stills have been busted. It's an industry that dates back to prohibition almost one hundred years ago.


Jamie Ray said, "This is the first legal distillery and we are making a moonshine product which is perfectly legal."


Getting the High Ridge distillery up and running is a dream turned reality for Jamie, working in the brewing industry for 20 years gave him an edge in the licensing and inspection process. Many have tried and failed to get one open in the state since 1915.


Jamie said, "The licensing process takes quite a while and the bonding has to be done and you have to take out a sizeable bond to ensure the taxes are safe. The process takes about a year to complete."


Not only did he have to meet strict federal regulations involving the FDA, but he also had to pass the state Alcoholic Beverage Control's guidelines.

A lot of money goes into a legal moonshining business. Having the right equipment is necessary for not only the safety of moonshiners, but also the consumer.


Attorney ABC Board Bob Martin said, "everyone always hears about a radiator, using lead solder on the pipes. But a bad formula or a bad ingredient you can make a number of different toxins that can hurt people."


And even if moonshine isn't your drink of choice, most agree that the extra boost to a struggling economy can only help.


Jamie said, "It's an area that needs more jobs and I've had a lot of support from people that are looking for jobs in Bullock County."


In the future they hope to expand and possibly add a gift shop and even a tasting area.


The ABC board said two other groups are looking to open up distilleries. So even though High Ridge is the first in the state, they may not be the last.


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