Visiting Broadslab Distillery in Benson, NC. Part two: the interview.
Author’s note: Before I left Broadslab, Jeremy was generous enough to gift me with four bottles of his product, one of each kind. I do not normally accept such gifts, but I made an exception in this case. Although I do not consider this payment, the FTC does. As such I am disclosing the info now. And though I had tasted all of the products and made judgements about liking or not liking them before I knew the gift was being made, the tasting notes below are from tonight. Please use this info to judge the relative accuracy of my thoughts on them.
This is the second in a two part series about my visit to Broadslab Distillery in Benson, NC. As I said in my last post, I spent an hour or more talking to Jeremy while I was at the distillery. Once I got home, I sent him a note to see if he would be willing to answer a few more questions for the blog. He graciously said yes. Our conversation is below.
Jeremy, we’ve talked of course, but tell the readers a little about yourself.
I was raised on a produce farm by my grandparents and became an entrepreneurer straight out of high school. I have gotten to this point in my life having been taught by the school of “hard knocks.”
How did you get your start in the spirit business? What made you decide to open a distillery?
My granddaddy and his ancestors made moonshine both before and after prohibition. During those times, it became an economic necessity to engage in “moonshining.” I wanted to open a distillery to honor this tradition and preserve the history of my family’s legacy. The name “Broadslab,” which my distillery is named, refers to the southeastern section of Johnston County, NC that became well-known for the quality of home-brewed whiskey produced by entrepreneurs back in the day. My distillery sits right in the heart of “Broadslab,” which many say is the “moonshine capital of NC.”
Is the distillery your full time job now?
(Laughs) I sure wish it could be but it does not pay the bills! My wife and I own and operate two collision repair centers, grow crops on our 100-acre farm (we grow our own corn for the moonshine mash), and maintain a few rental properties.
What’s a typical day like for you?
Oh, how it varies each and every day! Some days I am farming and some days I am running the rollback or washing cars for the body shops. Some days I am distilling or bottling product at the distillery and some days I am mowing grass at home, or at the body shops, or at the rental properties. There is no typical day for me!
Tell me about the biggest challenge you’ve faced so far.
The biggest challenge I have faced in this distillery thus far has been marketing, marketing and marketing! No one tells you how hard it is to get your products on the market with limited funding.
What’s the best thing about operating your own (legal) distillery?
I am blessed with so very many opportunities to meet all kinds of people from all walks of life who are very interested in and appreciate what I am trying to do!
Sustainable growth and natural ingredients seem to be at the heart of your philosophy. Tell the readers a little about what you are doing on those fronts.
I am a firm believer in only natural ingredients because most products and foods we encounter on a daily basis are full of artificial preservatives, artificial flavors and artifical sweeteners that I believe are harmful to an individual’s health. All of the products I currently produce at the distillery are made from only natural ingredients and are certified gluten-free.
My products have been on the market since August 2012, a very short time period. I have seen steady growth since that time and my main goal is to continue with this steady growth. Most every day I get an email or a phone call or simply talk to someone in person that has not heard about my distillery. I am building my brand one person at a time.
Any advice for readers who might be interested in following in your footsteps?
Make yourself fully aware of the financial undertaking needed to start a distillery and be willing to work a lot of VERY long hours to attempt to fulfill your dream!
What is your specialty?
My distillery is based on the “moonshining” legacy so clear, corn liquor is my specialty.
Any other types of products you are making?
I focus on producing and bottling only traditional, all-natural distilled spirits. I currently produce 2 varieties of corn liquor and 2 varieties of rum.
Anything new on the horizon?
I hope to add another product or two to the list I already produce.
Do you offer tours?
Currently, I am a one-man show so I only offer tours by appointment only. But, of course, I hope to set a tour schedule very soon.
In North Carolina you are in ABC stores, outside of North Carolina, where can readers buy your products?
We currently sell our products in SC and GA at various stores in those states.
Anything else you’d like to plug? Website? Twitter?
Please check out our website at www.broadslabdistillery.com (you can read all the details about the Broadslab legacy) and “like” us on facebook (https://www.facebook.com/BroadslabDistillery) and follow us on twitter (@BroadslabStill)!
Jeremy, thanks so much for chatting with me today. I enjoyed my visit to the distillery and I urge everyone in or visiting North Carolina to set up a visit with you and pick up a bottle or two in the ABC stores. Thanks again.
Broadslab Legacy Shine
Details: Label says 33% corn and 67% percent cane sugar. Jeremy told me that it included corn and malted corn along with the cane suger. 45% ABV
Nose: Dried Corn or more accurately cattle feed. This most reminds me of when I was in college, delivering pizzas to the guys at Quality Liquid Feeds. (yes, my heritage is mostly redneck—and I’m proud of that)
Taste: This has a very delicate flavor. Very sweet. Almost no burn. I could hold this in my mouth for a while without it burning out. Based on the nose, you’d expect to be overwhelmed by corn. It’s certainly there. But it’s more like a cooked cereal than I would have expected.
Finish: Minimal heat. The cooked cereal taste really hits you after you swallow and lingers for a good while before slowly turning bitter and making you want to take another sip.
Overall: I’ve liked very few unaged products. In fact I can only think of one before this. But I like this one. A lot. This is very obviously the work of a skilled craftsman.
Broadslab Legacy Reserve
Details: Same as above except that this has been “Colored and Flavored with Oak slabs.” (Which seems to be TTB speak for aged. For what it is worth I saw the barrels with charred oak slabs inside.)
Nose: Buttered popcorn and butterscotch. The nose on this is very sweet.
Taste: An initial hit of cinnamon transitions to a sweet smokiness. The smokiness is not overpowering. The buttery note is there to back it all up.
Finish: There’s a bit of heat that sticks around and a lingering smokiness. Kinda glad I tasted this second. Feels like a palate wrecker.
Overall: my wife liked this, but overall this wasn’t for me. It’s not that it was bad or anything. I just have a well known preference away from smoky whiskies. And this has that same sort of smoky flavor (even if it is technically not a whisky). I am extremely interested in trying it in a Manhattan-type cocktail though.