I’ve focused a series of stories in recent months on the tiny and growing NC-based distilling industry. Without question, the distilleries I’ve visited are true small businesses. Carolina Distillers in Lenoir, NC is no exception with its three partners and couple of other employees doing everything from fermenting to bottling.
Kenny Greene, Keith Nordan and Chris Hollifield bring different skills to Carolina Distillers and their effort appears to be paying off with business growth. While their distillery isn’t open to the general public, per se, they were very gracious in having Alan Brown and myself on their premises to learn about the business for UNC-TV’s North Carolina Now. The recipe for Carriage House Apply Brandy is generations old and comes from Chris Hollifield’s grandfathers (add a few “greats” in front of grandfather to get a sense of the recipe’s vintage).
It looks like a ton of fun to distill and then have customers, in growing numbers, appreciate the product but there’s no question that hours of work are required to keep the business running. The partners, all three, were greatly affected by Caldwell County, NC’s permanently changing economy and not in a positive way. In fact, the distillery idea was born from the events that forced their career changes.
Let’s talk about the taste of Carriage House brandy. The apple brandy is not sweet like you may expect. It tastes more like a whiskey or bourbon and drinks the same as well. I’m told people mix it as well. Carriage House’s “Strawberry Infusion” brandy is what you may expect – a sweet, 60-proof sipper that carries a slightly fruity note as the flavor trails away. You’d likely drink this slightly warm or, at least, at room temperature.