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Southwest Missouri's 1st Micro-Distillery in Walnut Shade (MO)

Making Legal Moonshine Whiskey

June 06, 2010|Doug Magditch | dmagditch@kspr.com

WALNUT SHADE, Mo. — When you think of moonshine, you probably picture a still hidden away in the woods, or maybe a bottle with an 'X' on it. To most, moonshine means illegally-distilled liquor.

In Walnut Shade, it's just un-aged whiskey.

It's made legally.

The rich history of the Ozarks includes many family secrets. Among those, passed down for generations, is moonshine.

"We had family that were moonshiners," says Jim Blansit, Sr. He's the father of Jim Blansit, the creator of Copper Run Distillery. "You come to the Ozarks and you think of the moonshine stills way back when."

During prohibition, stills fired up all over the country. They were especially big in the Ozarks, where the land offered everything a bootlegger needed.

"We have Ozark water. We have Ozark trees that become Ozark barrels. We use Ozark corn and wheat. So, it's very, very much a Missouri product," says Blansit.

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Building on that tradition, Blansit is bringing moonshine back to the Ozarks.

"The art of the old-style moonshining is not quite lost forever, but i think it came close," says Blansit.

Hidden away in Walnut Shade, is Copper Run Distillery: the only legal micro-distillery in Southwest Missouri. Blansit is creating a product from what the land has to offer.

"Traditionally, whiskey was made here for a long, long long time. I really like bringing those old-world techniques here," says Blansit.

The focus is whiskey, but he's also making vodka and rum.

"Everybody's talking about things natural. There's nothing added. He distills molasses and puts it in a barrel, and that's the product," says Blansit, Sr.

Copper Run produces only one barrel a week, giving Blansit the time to produce something he's proud of.

"The whole production is very hands on. So, it allows me to manipulate the whole entire process to where I get what I want when I'm finished with the run," says Blansit.

It's much like the backwoods bootleggers, except at Copper Run, he won't have to run from the cops.

"It's above board now," laughs Blansit, Sr.

This moonshine is legal, the work of a craftsman.

"It's a wonderful combination of science and art," says Blansit.

Blansit expects to be marketing his product at local restaurants, bars, and retail stores this summer. Until then, you can find it at the distillery's tasting room in Walnut Shade.

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