Rainy day trip to Short Mountain Distillery. We got a few pics and some interesting info from Bill Kaufman (CEO) and Ronald Lawson (old time shiner). They were all very helpful, and there was a steady stream of people braving the constant rain to tour and sample the shine.
There are two active stills. The smaller one shown below is located in the "Shiner's Shack" and produces a wonderfully sweetcorn smelling clean shine at about 115-120 proof, according to Mr. Lawson. The mash bill is 30% corn to 70% sugar.
The larger still inside the main building shown below is recognizable from the column. The product from the Shiner's Shack is combined with this still and redistilled here.
The stainless steel pan feeding into the white, round thing on the left is the grinder for the corn. The blue hopper feeds the ground corn into the cooker (hidden behind the column still). After cooking, they ferment the mash for 1 week to 10 days which is quite a bit longer than I expected. (For comparison I believe Prichard's ferments for about 3 days.) Mr Kaufman said the longer ferment time is due to the use of sugar.
They bottle the original shine at 105proof. It has an initial burn, of course, but is pretty smooth after that with a light taste of corn. They also produce an Apple Pie Tennessee Shine which is bottled at a much lower 40 proof. Of the six women and two guys present, one guy preferred the 105 proof shine, while the other seven preferred the Apple Pie. The pic below is Mr. Kaufman kindly posing with his original and Apple Pie shine in the distillery tasting room/store.
Business is good. They are building another distillery building nearby this October. Mr. Lawson said it will house four new column stills. The two existing stills would be converted to pot stills and used for "top shelf shine" (a working name) or whiskey.
Lastly the guys at Short Mountain are aging about (5) 53gal barrels of whiskey. Mr. Kaufman plans to release it as bourbon and says it meets all the criteria. It will be released "when it is ready," which sounds like the perfect answer to me. He expects it will sell out immediately right from the distillery when its released. I'm sure it will too, they have a constant traffic through the distillery store.
They also have a stack of new, unfilled 10gal barrels still in plastic wrap. I'm told they plan to experiment with a mixture of 53 and 10 gal barrels for their whisky. You can also buy tiny barrels of your own to experiment aging their shine (or some other if you prefer).
I recommend stopping and sitting on the porch for a bit and listen to Mr. Lawson tell about the old days of illegal moonshine. All in all a pleasant stop in a beautiful part of TN.