Long-time friendships and local collaboration have led a Burke County distillery to partner with a famed moonshiner to produce a new line of moonshines.
South Mountain Distilling Co. (SMDC) and TV personality and legendary moonshiner J.B. Rader recently joined forces to begin producing his line of moonshines, according to SMDC Owner Don Smith.
Rader is well-known for making moonshine with the world-famous Marvin "Popcorn" Sutton and also appearing on the Discovery Channel's show "Moonshiners" as one of the last legendary moonshiners.
Smith's friends, Chad Earp, owner of Tobacco Barn in Morganton, and Roger Earp, owner of R&D Locksmith, have been long-time friends with Rader, having met though the moonshiner's close circle of friends. A few months back, Chad reached out to Smith and told him they knew Rader. He asked Smith if he would be interested in partnering with them and Rader to make some of his moonshine.
Smith told Chad he would love the opportunity to work with Rader on such an endeavor. A couple of weeks later, Chad called and said he and his father were going to bring Rader by the distillery to talk about the options of working together.
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"They got J.B. to ride down to meet with me," Smith said. "We showed J.B. our facility here at South Mountain Distilling Co. and let him try all of our spirits. He was impressed with the quality of products that we produced, especially our Jasper's Shine.
"After sampling, we proceeded to talk some business, and after a couple of weeks working out the details, we came to an agreement."
With Chad and Roger now serving as Rader's agents, SMDC began making Rader's moonshine using techniques he taught the distillers to help make his quality products. Rader says he plans on coming across the mountain a few times a year to help out and ensure the quality of the end products.
For their first collaboration, they consulted with Rader on what flavors he'd like to taste.
"I asked J.B. what he would like for his first product to be and taste like and he replied, 'How about an apple moonshine?'" Smith said. "So, after several test runs of some sour mash moonshine, we finally got what he liked. The first product will be J.B. Rader's Special Edition Honeycrisp Apple Moonshine."
This first product will bring a refreshing, crisp, apple flavor that Smith says moonshine lovers will enjoy. It will be around 60 proof. SMDC currently is in the production process and plans to have it on the market sometime late April to early May.
The company is planning a Honeycrisp Apple Moonshine Release Event at its production facility, located at 1027 Malcolm Blvd. in Connelly Springs, to coincide with the product's public availability.
"We have talked with several of the moonshiners from the show and a lot of them are planning on attending the release event to support 'The Legend' J.B. Rader and his product," Smith said.
Smith said he is grateful to Rader for the opportunity to work alongside him and to the Earps for their role in making the partnership a reality.
"I would like to thank 'The Legend' J.B. Rader for allowing South Mountain Distilling Co. to help make his products and I would also like to thank Chad Earp and Roger Earp for making it happen."
For more information on South Mountain Distilling Co. or its products, visit www.southmountaindistillery.com or call 828-368-0681.