A couple weeks ago I was traveling for work in Kingsport, TN. Kingsport is a small town just on the outskirts of Bristol that is currently going through some great revitalization. With all that in mind, it’s the last place I would have expected to stumble upon the coolest moonshine distillery I’ve seen to date – Hook and Ladder Moonshine Company. Hook and Ladder Moonshine was created by Drew Draper and his son Drew Jr after realizing that a recipe Drew Jr created had something special. Both being firefighters this new venture would be a labor of pure love since it’s just the two of them crafting these fine spirits every moment that they aren’t out protecting their community. The care they put into each jar and bottle is now starting to show in the form of national and international recognition and medals. Their moonshine all start with their traditional recipe, but if you’re feeling adventurous you can pick up a jar that’s been flavored with a variety of mixes such as Mango, Orange DreamSickle, Cinnaburn, Honey, Mocha Frappe, Salted Watermelon, or Salted Caramel. But if bourbon is more your style, they have you covered with that as well. Drew and Drew Jr. have also started making a Private Reserve Bourbon. This 100proof mix is as smooth as silk and each bottle is hand numbered and dipped in wax to lock in the goodness. Drew told me that the secret to their success is that they start from scratch. He explained that the distilleries that have been popping up in tourist areas all over Tennessee start with a sweetened alcohol base almost like a sweet vodka. The difference is evident in the finished product. Most store bought shine is harsh and I honestly believe that people buy it just to say they have had moonshine. But if you’ve ever tried honest to goodness homemade shine like you buy out of the back of someone’s trunk in a dark alley – you know the difference. That is how Hook and Ladder shine taste. Drew was kind enough to show me around their facility which consists of the storefront and their production area all visible to the public in the back. No secrets here (aside from the recipe), just honest to goodness hard work. I was able to snap a few pics, and all said and done I picked up some bourbon and some shine for myself (after Drew hooked me up with some samples to determine my favorites). What I can tell you is this – if you just happen to be in the Kingsport area do yourself a favor and stop by Hook and Ladder (Hook and Ladder shine is now being distributed in more and more liquor stores every month, be on the lookout!). But I would also encourage you to do just what I did. Stop into a local place that has that “something cool” and just start talking to people. Drew made a customer for life that day, and I learned a ton about the distillery process. Enjoy the pics!