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Be still my heart — Elevated Mountain Distilling is coming soon

By Paul Viau | Oct 19, 2016
Photo by: Paul Viau STANDING TALL — Dave Angel, owner of Elevated Mountain Distilling Company, stands before what has to be the largest (legal) still ever in Haywood County.

I’m going to take a break from my normal Oktoberfest ramblings about beer — and kick it up a notch.

Last week, my wife/craft beverage enthusiast and I visited Elevated Mountain Distilling Company in Maggie Valley — soon to be Haywood County’s first legal distillery. What we found was a work in progress, but the actual ‘still’ is in place and, boy-howdy, it is a work of liquor-making art.

Sure, stills have been a fixture in Maggie Valley and surrounding hills and hollers for decades. But the bevvy of hastily-hammered, heavily-hidden and highly-hazardous contraptions of the past — ‘pale’ (quite literally) in comparison to the brightly-gleaming, highly-polished stainless steel and copper spectacle of this “thoroughly-modern ‘Millie” of a distillery.

Owner, Dave Angel, is certainly elevating liquor making to a higher level than anyone has ever seen ‘round these parts. And it won’t be long before we-uns can get a taste.

Right now, the 23-foot tall, 800-gallon, state-of-the-art still is in place and being plumbed.

A 2.5-million BTU boiler stands nearby, capable of bringing a full mash tun to a boil in 30 minutes. Four, massive, 800-gallon open fermenting tanks are also in place — ready to be filled.

Very soon, the first of 300 wooden barrels will arrive, ready to rack ‘n roll.

The bottling area is also taking shape and as soon as state and federal permitting is completed (Insert drum roll) — the liquor will flow.

This may take a few months, but the retail portion of Elevated Mountain Distilling should be open in the next couple weeks. And Maggie Valley residents and visitors are waiting in anticipation.

Even the large quilt block on the side of the building — titled “Still Farming” — is drawing attention. It is a geometric salute to distilling and the role Elevated Mountain Distilling will play in both Haywood County agriculture and tourism.

The colors of “Still Farming” include the light blue of the Carolina blue sky, fields of green representing both local agriculture and the Great Smoky Mountains, yellow gold for corn —the key ingredient in whiskey — and the shades of copper and gray that distills all of the above into what I think will be ‘agritourism at its best.’

Elevated Mountain Distilling Company is a natural for Haywood County.

Did you know? — According to Cherokee folklore, Haywood County is the birthplace of both corn and strawberries. Dave Angel plans to use plenty of both in his operation.

Elevated Mountain Distilling is both a light manufacturing and agri-business, and Angel plans to showcase the Haywood County farmers who supply the corn for his distillery on a photo wall near the massive still. Parts of the distillery will also have a rustic barn feel.

“I believe in Haywood County,” said Angel. “And I want people to ‘Buy Everything Haywood’ — including their whiskey.”

As for Elevated Mountain Distilling Company’s products — First out will be corn moonshine in five flavors and premium corn whiskey, followed by premium whiskey, vodka, gin and finally —rye-based products.

The water source for all these products will be Haywood County Waterways. After all, Jonathan and Campbell Creeks flow nearby Elevated Mountain Distilling. But don’t worry about waste-water.

EMDC will remove chlorine and any contaminants from the water before distilling, and byproducts like the corn slurry will go to local farmers.

After, all we want happy cows.

And mooooo-ving to my close, Elevated Mountain Distilling Company plans to open their retail area within the next few weeks — selling hats, T-shirts, shot glasses and other ‘swag.’ From the retail area you can watch the rest of the distillery come to life and soon buy a bottle of premium local whiskey.

The opening date for the retail is yet to be determined. ‘Like’ Elevated Mountain Distilling on Facebook and read The Mountaineer — You’ll be the first to know.

Elevated Mountain Distilling Company is located at 3732 Soco Road in Maggie Valley, in the building formerly occupied by Carolina Nights Dinner Theater.

See you at the opening.