The dream of craft liquor

And so even though we face the difficulties of today and tomorrow, I still have a dream. It is a dream deeply rooted in the American dream.- Martin Luther King, Jr. 1963

More than 50 years after Martin Luther King, Jr.’s speech at the Lincoln Memorial, we are still celebrating his life and his iconic speech.  A quarter of a million people showed up that day at the Lincoln Memorial to hear his speech, that we’re still being inspired by today.  It’s not simply the words, though to even say, “I have a dream” is powerful.  It’s the hope that a phrase like that embodies.  Hope for a better day, for everyone. Hope for the American dream.

Today, people from every corner of the nation are pursuing their dreams.  Some do it through words, by teaching those who don’t know.  Some do it through technology, by creating new gadgets that may help to save our dwindling resources. Others are trying to help such a hurried nation relax and reboot – by making great craft liquor. 

These American craft distillers have heard the whisper in their hearts. They’ve heard that voice that says, “This is what I’m meant to do”. They, too, have a dream and they’ve followed it.  Some to the cities, some to the farm, some to the mountains.

Take Troy Ball, of Troy & Sons (Asheville Distilling).  After raising three sons, two of which have special needs, Troy wanted to do something outside the home for herself. Raised in the South on stories of the moonshine you keep home and don’t “sell down the road”, she wanted to learn more. A trip to meet her first moonshiner and she was sold! Not simply on the moonshine, but also on the people that make it.  Read more of how they put their hearts (and Hearts!) into their Platinum Moonshine here

Tuthilltown Spirits takes their “grain to glass” belief very seriously, sourcing their grain and apples within less than ten miles from their distillery.  New York’s first bourbon, Hudson Baby Bourbon, is distilled from 100% New York corn.  Read about the diverse team that makes a fine selection of spirits here.

In Yiddish, Koval means “black sheep” or someone who forges ahead or does something new or out of the ordinary.  I’d say that KOVAL Distillery has definitely achieved that, making some truly unique spirits: from whiskey that’s made from 100% millet (which also makes it gluten-free – yay!), to Chrysanthemum & Honey liqueur.  KOVAL’s founders, Drs. Robert and Sonat Birnecker, were able to follow their dreams together. Robert’s love of traditional crafts and the pride of a small family business, along with Sonat’s desire to return to Chicago after a decade in the international education community resulted in Chicago’s first distillery since the mid-1800’s. Read more about their inspiration behind the KOVAL name here

Cheers to those that follow their dreams, wherever they may lead!


About Jeanne Runkle

Jeanne Runkle currently lives in San Diego, and is a certified bartender and craft liquor expert. Her specialty is the brown stuff, whether it's bourbon, rye or good old American whiskey. She can sometimes be found stalking the aisles of a liquor store near you, answering your random whiskey questions.

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