Determined to find the perfect moonshine recipe, Troy began testing recipes acquired from the North Carolina State Archives and residents from Madison to McDowell counties. She is grateful to all the home distillers who have shared family secrets and the occasional mason jar with her. On August 18, 2010, Troy finally distilled the perfect white liquor, using lost Crooked Creek Corn™, smooth as silk with vanilla oak undertones. May they all be 818 days. A limited supply of the original 818 remains and will be preserved at Distillery.
A Conversation With Troy
Where did the name Troy & Sons come from? Charlie and I have two special needs boys, Marshall and Coulton, and I spent most of their early lives overseeing their care and trying to do everything possible to make sure they could live their lives as fully as possible. Luke, our youngest son, was a joy, and I sometimes worried that he would get short-changed or feel resentful as so much attention went to his older brothers. Instead, Luke has a compassion that is rare in someone so young, and is now in college at Western Carolina University. As the boys got older and we qualified for assistance with their care, I finally felt I could start something outside the home for myself. So Troy – for me, & Sons – because so much of who I am has been taught to me by these three amazing young men. Luke is the only one who physically works at the distillery with us, but the hearts and spirits of all our boys infuse everything we do.
Why did you decide you wanted to learn to distill? For years I heard from the old timers in Western North Carolina that the best moonshine whiskey was kept at home, not sold down the road. In 2008, I finally got to taste some of the “keeper” moonshine; I was shocked by how smooth it was, and how complicated the taste was. Nothing like the throat-burning spirits typically pawned off on outsiders. I wanted everyone to taste and appreciate this white whiskey that is so much a part of our history.
When did you first learn to distill? In the summer of 2008 I began learning from moonshine makers in and around Asheville, NC. The first time I went to meet a moonshiner, I took my sister Trish with me just in case…. I wasn’t sure what to expect and figured if I drank something that made me crazy, that maybe my youngest sister would get help for me. What I found were some of the most generous people I’ve ever met, patient as they explained a process that had been handed down for generations, clearly entertained as they poked fun at some of my misconceptions, and proud to share the clear, sweet white whiskey they brewed for family and friends. Since there was no need for rescue, Trish and I bonded instead, as the warmth of the whiskey and the company brought us together in shared adventure.
How do you drink your whiskeys? I love to use our Platinum product in place of tequila. I often make margaritas with Agave nectar and fresh lime juice. Yum. Another personal favorite is fresh watermelon juice, Platinum and a twist of lemon. Basically any fruit muddled, with equal parts sour (lemon or lime) and simple syrup (equal parts water and sugar) or agave, topped with something sparkling like Perrier, Sprite, or tonic are all great!
Other than distilling do you have any other passions? I have been in love with horses since I was 3 and would beg my parents to take me to the pony rides. By 8 I was taking regular riding lessons and showing horses. My love of horses and competition has taken me from hunter jumpers to cutting horses to reining horses and to Arabian show horses. I managed to win three gold medals in National horse shows through the years. Most recently I raced endurance race horses on 50 and 100 mile races in the US and Canada. I made the short list for the US Endurance team a few years back, but finally put aside racing to pursue this business. Endurance riding was easier!
What are you most proud of in your business? I’m excited that I actually did it. I mean got the distillery off the ground and now make products that I’m proud of. I’m also extremely thrilled that we got on to the Disney Resort menus this year. That is a highly competitive undertaking and it feels really great to have been chosen by such an amazing company. Of course, I couldn’t have done it without a lot of help both in the distillery and in the field, but watching a product you’ve developed get that kind of validation is incredibly satisfying. Too bad they all can’t be Disney days!
Would you jump into this business again? I certainly would but with my eyes open! There is so much that I know now that I wish I had known in the beginning. Building a brand is a marathon, not a sprint. It takes large sums of money and constant work to spread the word about your products. I think many people underestimate just what that means, personally and for their families. I did, but am fortunate to have a family that believes in me and supports what I do!