Ep. 115 - Stories of Square Stills, Bootlegging, and Kentucky Moonshine

ARLON "A.J." JONES // Casey Jones Distillery

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Show Notes

In this episode, I had the pleasure of interviewing AJ Jones, the founder of Casey Jones Distillery, to explore the history and techniques of moonshining. AJ shared captivating stories about his grandfather, Casey Jones, whose innovative spirit led to the creation of a square pot still and unique approaches to selling moonshine. We discussed traditional techniques in moonshine distilling, the significance of preserving whiskey history, and the impact of taxes on the industry.

AJ also discussed the design and operation of the column still used at Casey Jones Distillery, highlighting its unique off-to-the-side configuration for easier access and operation. We touched on the transition from moonshining to legal distilling, the expansion of the distillery, and their involvement in the Total Eclipse event. AJ shared insights into the relaunch of Total Eclipse Moonshine and the distinctive characteristics of Casey Jones Moonshine, including its corn and cane flavors.

Additionally, AJ talked about aging moonshine in barrels, the development of unique flavors over time, and the popularity of Total Eclipse Kentucky Straight Bourbon. He also mentioned collaborations between Casey Jones Distillery and other local distilleries to enhance visitor experiences, adding to the rich tapestry of whiskey culture on the border of Kentucky and Tennessee.

Listen to the full episode with the player above or find it on Spotify, Apple, Patreon.com/whiskeylore or your favorite podcast app under "Whiskey Lore: The Interviews." The full transcript, the video version of this podcast, and resources talked about in this episode are available on the tab(s) above.

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Drew Hannush (00:00.994)
Welcome to Whiskey Lore, The Interviews. I'm your host, Drew Hanisch, the bestselling author of Whiskey Lore's travel guide to experiencing Kentucky bourbon and experiencing Irish whiskey and the brand new historical epic, The Lost History of Tennessee Whiskey. And today we are gonna dive into the subject that I covered in the book a little bit here and there, moonshining, more from a Tennessee perspective. But today we are going to jump into Kentucky and get some insights on

moonshining history from someone who actually experienced and had family members that he learned from learning about moonshining. It is Arlen A.J. Jones, the founder of Casey Jones Distillery along with his wife Peg. And A.J. has got lots of stories to tell. I've been out to the distillery a couple of times and boy, it has changed a lot over four years. So we're going to talk about that as well as talking about his total eclipse moonshine.

and so much more right here. So AJ, welcome to the show.

AJ (01:05.655)
Thank you for having me, Drew. I appreciate it very much.

Drew Hannush (01:09.142)
Yeah, it was fun coming out and seeing the evolution of the distillery. Cause when I first showed up four years ago for my, uh, exploring for my experience in Kentucky bourbon book, it was like, uh, you guys were bottling your whiskey in the same spot. You had some barrels stored and you're kind of cramped there in the corner doing all the work. Now you got a big.

AJ (01:28.044)
Yeah, little space.

Drew Hannush (01:31.198)
Yes. And then you got this big warehouse and then you got a dedicated facility for your distillery. So you guys have come a long way.

AJ (01:39.602)
Yeah, we started in 22, a $2 million expansion with Rick house and new stills and production space bottling line. The whole, the whole works. So I was shooting match now.

Drew Hannush (01:51.086)
The whole shoot and match, yeah. Well, we'd love to start off with talking history here, and you got lots of history in what you're, not only from you, but going back to your grandfather, who the distillery is named after. So let's talk about Casey just a bit here. Now, he was known for both creating stills and also making moonshine. Which of those came first for him?

AJ (02:20.706)
Oh, making the stills came first. Yeah, they absolutely did. Yeah. He, um, I'm my understanding and what I heard from my dad as well. And granddad never did talk about it a lot because he got in a lot of trouble for the, all that stuff. So he's kind of quiet about it. But the first still he ever built, he'd never, he never actually used one. He just knew how they worked and built his still. And it's the same still we use today. So same type square.

Drew Hannush (02:22.894)
Did it? How did he get it?

Drew Hannush (02:50.554)
Square, very unique. Yeah, when I first saw it, I was like, okay, I've been to Scotland, I've been to Ireland, I've been across the US, never have seen a square still anywhere. So how did he decide on Square as his shape?

AJ (02:51.636)

AJ (03:09.698)
So Casey is a young man, he worked for a coffin maker. So if you look at our, when we have is kind of a rectangle. And if you look at it really close, it could resemble a coffin. So he knew that the sturdiness of the shape and the size, and then also that if it didn't make it so deep, it would heat up quicker. And so he made it more flat and spread out so they could build a fire all the way across it.

it would actually heat up quicker. His line arm, the way it slopes backwards, actually makes the product come backwards and redistill. So it kind of works a lot like a hybrid column, you know, where you're redistilling the product so that brings up the proof. And then the biggest thing was his condenser. That was one of the biggest things about him too. Everybody's using a copper worm. And he decided that he could make a...

a walled, a jacketed wall canister that the alcohol vapors would lie between these layers of copper and it'd have more cooling surface. And so he invented a condenser, which is, condensers are used nowadays in just about every still there is. So you know, kind of a great creation. We use it, you know, we use it in all our stills. Even in new stills have condensers. So kind of cool.

Kind of cool, he'd be one of the first to do that.

Drew Hannush (04:36.93)
Yeah, it's had he, I mean, how do you get inspired to do that? Was that really kind of him just creating on his own and coming up with something? Were there, I don't really, I've never looked into the history of condensers and when they actually shifted to using condensers.

AJ (04:48.93)
The Nuth.

AJ (04:55.27)
I'm not sure exactly either. I know that he played a big role in this part of the country using condensers. Um, you know, as far as at least the illegal stuff going, you know, I don't know about the modern stills when they do it, but that is a good topic. I might have to, might have to look up myself and do a little research on to see. Um, but I do know he was known for the square pot still. And then, you know, he spent a couple of times in the pen for making and got caught. And.

Drew Hannush (05:14.571)
Yeah, yeah.

AJ (05:24.926)
His style and design kind of spread after those times. You know, we called the place he went to, Moonshine University, basically. Had all those moonshiners in there, they're all learning from each other. And so next thing you know, their square steel is showing up everywhere. So, yeah, yeah.

Drew Hannush (05:43.605)
So he was kind of holding court as professor himself and getting people interested in that kind of still making.

AJ (05:48.898)

AJ (05:53.098)
Yes, certainly, certainly was. And the stills were easy to pack. That's the thing. They had handles on them. They come apart in three pieces. So two guys could pick up a still and move it into the woods and set it up, run it, bring it back out, you know, never leave it where it was because if they did, most of the time they'd lose it. So, you know, either government would catch it or find it and cut it up or somebody would steal it, you know, that happened a lot.

Drew Hannush (05:55.566)

AJ (06:22.506)
land between the lakes area.

Drew Hannush (06:24.834)
Yeah, it was interesting researching the history and hearing the stories of old moonshiners because there was a real shift from the original moonshiners after the excise law came about where most of them, it was kind of like they had to, they didn't necessarily hide their stills because they didn't think they were doing anything wrong initially, but then it started to turn into a little moonshine war out there where the revenue was were.

chased them down, then they got crafty and started hiding them in different places. But you really couldn't move the thing around very quickly until all of a sudden the automobile came along and you had trucks. And I have to say the first time I saw that square still, I thought, well, that'd be probably pretty easy to throw on a flatbed truck and just take it somewhere.

AJ (07:16.078)
It was easy. It was made to fit in the back of a Model A pickup and you could haul it and it was made to fit back there. You know the flatbed we have is even more room. But like I say it come apart in three pieces so they could throw a blanket over the top of it and it was low profile. So it was kind of down below the sides of the truck. So it basically is hidden in it. So yeah, and that was part of the design and part of the use is being able to move it. So you know there's

Some people call it a coffin still. Some people call it a wagon bed and some people, you know, just call it a square pot, so about three names that I know people call that thing. So, um, I call it a piece of art. So.

Drew Hannush (07:58.928)
It's a, it displays very nicely in two different locations. You actually have his original still sitting over your bar, which I think is fun.

AJ (08:08.71)
I do, and actually the story behind that is Peg, you know, my wife was through, she was on the Board of Regents at Murray State. So she's coming back and forth a lot from Murray. And she decided to stop into the visitor center one day at Land Between the Lakes and she noticed a still was gone. And of course, you know, ever since we've been together, she knew about Casey still, and so the forestry department had took over...

operations of Land Between the Lakes. They took over from the TVA. And when they switched out, they redid the visitor center. And they really wasn't much about the moonshining era. They left just a little bit of history in there of Casey and one of his small miniature stills in there. But they took out all the big display. And so she asked where it went, you know, what happened to it. Because I grew up with it from a child all the way up, you know.

They've been there since 1967. And so eventually we found out, eventually we worked with one of the guys that worked there that was in charge and it took about a year, but we actually got them to give that still back to us so that it wouldn't disappear and get destroyed or somebody steal it for the copper, which that was kind of neat. That's, that's what started the chain reaction of this distillery is.

Drew Hannush (09:09.303)

AJ (09:33.93)
I always say, what's a guy gonna do when a guy gets a steal? He's gonna make moonshine, so yeah. It's a couple years after we got it, but yeah, I couldn't stand it much longer, so.

Drew Hannush (09:39.31)

Drew Hannush (09:46.626)
Well, it's a fun story too, how that still got there because that was a still that Casey actually made himself for the government that had tracked him down a couple of times and put him in prison for that.

AJ (09:59.811)
Yeah, first legal still he ever made. And they actually commissioned him to build that for the visitor center because the reason why they did it was they had a lot of history in there about Casey. They had all this stuff printed and everything and signage. But the still they had in there wasn't Casey's. And so Casey demanded that they take his name off of it. And so they came back and worked out an agreement. If he build a still for them.

then that would solve the problem. So he built the steel for them and he built that in 1967. So it's kind of neat. I was around, Casey from the time I was probably, well, actually the time I was born, I was around Casey quite a bit, all the way up to like the seventh grade. He actually lived with us several times throughout that time period on the same property. So I was around with him when he was making the miniature steels. I wasn't around the time he made that one though.

which, but I knew about it, knew about it very well. Used to take field trips in school, you know, to visitor center, to Lambatwini, like, so proud, you know, my grandfather had built this still, you know, I could brag about it, you know, and all that stuff. So yeah, it's kind of neat. It's, you know, it's kind of sad the forestry department changed that out, but in a way it helped us become a distillery. So it worked out really well. And.

Drew Hannush (10:58.774)

AJ (11:24.054)
I was telling you a little bit earlier about the forestry department was here yesterday. About five of them came up and wanted to visit with Casey Jones Distillery and talk about some things about getting the moonshine stuff back into the visitor center and doing some stuff with some demonstrations and all that stuff again about the history. So it was nice to hear that come back, you know, and so forth. So trying to get me to build them a still. So.

Drew Hannush (11:41.056)

Drew Hannush (11:51.393)

AJ (11:53.994)
How neat would that be?

Drew Hannush (11:54.062)
Well, that would be awesome. And it's one of those things that you kind of learn through the history of whiskey. A lot of families and you know, you talking about Casey and that he didn't really talk that much about his past, this ebb and flow of, you know, whiskey is in, whiskey is out, whiskey is in, whiskey is out. And it's like, um, a lot, this is my trouble with doing research. A lot of times is that.

families kind of buried that information about their either moonshining history or their history in the whiskey industry, even if they were a big distillery. And so it's fun to see this come back. I think this is part of the reason why I really embraced this idea of telling the history and the people side of it, because I think if we can get to those stories,

And we can show how ingrained it was in just how we evolved as people and how it helped us survive in some cases. That, and that it's filled with stories that will keep us from that ebb and flow and we can keep these stories alive.

AJ (13:07.126)
It was a way of life for most of them that were doing that. They needed the income. Not like today where you can take a load of grain to the market so easy. They couldn't do that. So the easiest thing to do is turn it into what we call liquid corn. And they could transport that so much better to the market and get so much more money out of it than they could with just the straight corn. So they added value to it by distilling and...

Bottling and so forth. So it did go all over You know, I was talking about how neat it would be, you know Casey built that steel for the federal government in 1967 And now the federal government's asking me to build them still That's kind of neat, you know I hope I can find the time to do it. That's going to be the trick, you know Pretty busy operation right now But you know when I built When I built the steel that we use today, you know, that was

Drew Hannush (13:50.507)
It is.

Drew Hannush (13:58.006)
Yeah. And this is, I was gonna say.

AJ (14:04.15)
just all kinds of rewards to me personally to be able to do that. And, you know, the first time we fired that thing up, you know, that I built the, and it, and it ran like it was supposed to and didn't leak. And I said, it was almost more, uh, more exciting than it was when my second child was born, you know, I'll say first child sometimes it's second child's around. Yeah.

Drew Hannush (14:25.711)
Yeah. Nice. How did you learn to build stills? Did Casey show you how or did it come through your father?

AJ (14:37.342)
No, I grew up, my dad had a construction company. So I grew up in construction. Um, we always said we were part Amish or Mennonite because we worked as kids, you know, from the time we was big enough to pack one shingle or one brick, you know, um, so I grew up in construction. I grew up around, um, my dad had licensed, he was licensed plumber case. He could solder, copper, you know, just anything. So I grew up around doing that portion of.

plumbing and soldering copper. So I knew how to do that portion, but to build a steel was completely a different deal. So measured closely to the one that we have that he built, the last one he built, and kind of went from there and just looked at the techniques of how he did it and tried to follow those same techniques. And I don't know, I say a lot of times, this is how it really felt to me. I'd go to sleep at night.

And in my dreams, I'd figure out how to do this the next day. And I would go do that and work. I always said, Casey was talking to me, you know, he was telling me what to do in my sleep. So, yeah. So didn't have much experimenting that I had to do. It was just like it came together. You know, I mean, it was kind of pretty amazing to me.

Drew Hannush (15:42.064)
Nice. Yeah.

Drew Hannush (15:52.654)
Do you kind of subscribe to, if you go to Scotland and you look at their pot stills, when they replace a pot still, if it has a ding in the side of it, they put that same ding into it, into the new one, because they think that's enough to change the flavor of what they're producing. Do you think that's a, did you ever do any experiments where you had the two stills both running to see if they tasted any different?

AJ (16:19.61)
I've had both running and they both work exactly the same. They actually do. That's still, if we get real good fermentation on our mash and we're putting back our heads and tails into re-distilled, you know, it'll produce a gallon in three and a half minutes. And that's what the old still would do as well. So, you know, everything's got to be perfect for it to do that, but it happens, it happens quite a bit. So.

You know, the new grandfather still we have now down below that we had built, which is a commercial grade square pot still, there's a little difference there in operation, but it's still great. It's still, I'm still able to produce the same flavorful product. And if I try to run that same product through that great big hybrid still, I've never been able to reproduce the same taste. I've never been able to mash a thousand gallons at a time.

and get the same output from it that I get from doing it in 55 gallon drums, you know, like we always did. So I even impressed my permutation guy that works for me. He just couldn't believe the difference that we made, you know, trying to do it a thousand gallon versus trying to do it in a 55 gallon drum. So yeah, kind of neat. Yeah.

Drew Hannush (17:37.23)
Yeah. Well, in those old days, when your grandfather was distilling, because I've been getting really into the origins of bourbon and of course, Tennessee whiskey as well with the book. And as I've been doing that, I've been reading a lot of these old techniques of keeping multiple barrels around where you're letting it naturally ferment in smaller barrels rather than in big vessels.

and the difference that makes in making the whiskey and not using yeast, commercial yeast, but instead just putting the back set in and then kind of letting nature take its course. Are these things that you have tried to do, are you doing it that way? Or

AJ (18:20.525)

AJ (18:30.086)
We've tried to do where we actually don't use any yeast. The yield's just not there that we need to have for it. So it's a combination. We do use the back set and we do use fresh yeast as well. The thing about it is the yeast that you have in the back set, the fresh yeast is gonna kind of like take over because it's the majority of what's in there. It's gonna take over and it's gonna create different flavors. So that's...

That's part of the reason with the small batches, like the still that we have that we've used for eight years that I built, it would hold three of the 55 gallon drums of mash in it. So between the three drums, you know, you get a little bit different flavor profile in each one of them. Sometimes you get a lot of apple taste, you know, from the yeast and so forth. Other times you wouldn't. So I think blending those together into one batch.

is what creates a lot of the unique flavors that we have. And so forth. We did have a family recipe to start out with. So yeah, we kind of made it our recipe over time, but yeah, we had something to start with. Yeah.

Drew Hannush (19:32.007)

Drew Hannush (19:39.678)
Nice. Well, this is the tough part about, you know, trying to bring forward a tradition when back then, you know, maybe they were using the same grains each time or maybe they weren't. I mean, did you ever hear any thoughts from Casey on what kind of grains he was using or was it always the same recipe?

AJ (20:04.042)
It was always, I think, pretty well the yellow corn because that worked the best for them. And they had it themselves that they grew, but they also were able to get that. And a lot of the corn came from WF Ware, which is a place over in Trenton. I know my granddad got corn from there. I've gotten corn from there over time. Different people own it, but it's come from the same place and it's Kentucky grown.

or Tennessee, most of ours I know is all Kentucky, but then, you know, they were getting stuff across the Tennessee line down in southern part of land between the lakes as well and then from the Clarksville area. So a lot of times taking moonshine and bringing back corn, you know, same thing with cane, a lot of sugar use. So, you know, take some and trade for sugar to make more batches with, you know, so that's how that works.

Drew Hannush (20:59.559)
Yeah, well that brings up the other question of where are the markets back then? How was he getting his whiskey or his moonshine sold? Was he using bootleggers to do it or was he, did he have his own little network going?

AJ (21:16.534)
So Casey was kind of a little bit different than some of the others, but he had a couple of bootleggers that would run for him as well. Some family members, but Casey actually his real name was Alford, not Casey. And Casey was a nickname for him. And the reason why he got that, he didn't deal with the individuals. He dealt with what he considered to be a kind of a middle man. He only sold his product by the case.

So you didn't go buy an individual bottle from him or anything like that. You had to buy a case. And so over time, people talked about that guy that only would sell his stuff by the case, you know, kind of developed a reputation of that. And so the nickname Casey started and it just stayed with him and kept it, you know, all the way up till he died, you know, everybody would call him Casey, but it wasn't his real name. Real name was Alfred. So kind of funny, you know, that something like that would happen.

Drew Hannush (22:15.798)
Yeah. It was an age of nicknames though, as I go through and I start reading on some of these people, there's a guy I follow out of bourbon county who went by the name cash or Dan, and they called him cash or Dan because he always wanted cash. He never wanted no credit. We're not doing anything else. We're not doing trade. I want cash. Absolutely.

AJ (22:16.068)
Um, yeah.

AJ (22:34.014)
Yeah, cash right now up front. Yeah.

Drew Hannush (22:39.842)
Yeah, which was a tough thing back in those early days because cash wasn't always available. There was a lot of bartering going on.

AJ (22:46.414)
No. Yeah. You know, there was a lot of sugar flown into this area for making moonshine. Um, there's a gentleman down at Katie's that his family owns a lot of, not Katie's, but, uh, Eddieville, Kentucky. They own a lot of land down there. And the way they got that land was his grandfather used to fly sugar in, and he traded it for land.

Drew Hannush (23:03.843)

Drew Hannush (23:15.499)
Oh wow.

AJ (23:16.258)
And yeah, he traded it for land. So he wound up with thousands of acres adjoining land between the lakes. So he owns thousands of acres down there. And that's how that happened. So it's kind of, kind of neat. You know, those stories like that are kind of neat as well. But yeah.

Drew Hannush (23:32.482)
It does take you back to a different time because again, we think of modern commerce and going to the bank. Back then, they were passing around a lot of promissory notes. I have stories of people who left in their will basically a bond that they had been given by somebody to say, I will pay you for this down the road or you can trade this bond to somebody else.

AJ (23:35.285)
Oh yeah.

Drew Hannush (24:01.09)
Like it's money because they didn't have a bank. So they had to figure out some way to trade money back and forth.

AJ (24:07.998)
Yep, that's it. You know, back to the stills for just a minute because this is kind of neat for me. This was a neat experience as well. When we decided to do our expansion, we had in mind a hybrid column still because we wanted to produce a lot of bourbon. We were going to maybe do something about a square pot down the road and after we got the big still ordered and that was coming, we started deciding, well, we need to get a square pot because we need to get a custom

one that will work with steam. And I just don't have the ability to buy, build one that way. So the company we use, which was specific out of Canada to build our other stills, we talked to them about building the square pot. I drew up the design and sent it to them. And their engineers worked on it and they came back with a quote on it and we're gonna do it. And then they said, well, it's gonna take us two years to get this done. Oh, come on, two years?

And that's just wouldn't, I wouldn't commit to it, you know, because it was going to take so long. I said, we'll do something different. We'll see what we can do somewhere else. And at any rate, they kept calling me. And one day the salesperson called me. This is like 1st of July. And he says, you know, there's a big distilling conference in Missouri this year, the American Distilling Conference. And our company, our owner, and our guys at work out there, and our engineers.

We have never built a square steel. Everybody wants to build that steel. If you'll commit to that steel, we wanna have that for that conference at the end of September. This was 1st of July. At the end of September, we wanna display that square steel there as a custom build job. And if you'll commit, we'll have it, we'll do it and we'll deliver it to you right after the conference, straight to you. I said, okay. And...

Lo and behold, they did. And, you know, the first time I saw it was at that conference, you know, walk in, you know, showcase, show floor, you know, all these distillery products and all these things and out in the middle of it stands a grandfather still. They actually named it the grandfather. And, uh, it really did great justice to us on it. The advertising did a story or two. They did a video, all that stuff. And it was kind of cool. Then they delivered it to us.

AJ (26:33.366)
same week we got our big still in. So that was kind of amazing to me to get that. And of course that thing purrs like a kitten, really. So yeah.

Drew Hannush (26:35.779)

Drew Hannush (26:45.766)
I guess there's some breaking in time. You just got to kind of get the know and get a feel for a still life. But your advantage is you're making moonshine on that thing. So it's like you can sort of tell right away. You don't have to wait for four years to figure out whether it's working or not.

AJ (27:02.338)
But you know, but we are doing second run bourbon through it too. So yeah, we'll, we'll run bourbon through it again sometimes and create a different flavor profile by rerunning that bourbon. So we have barrels that we've put up that way as well. So every now and then we'll just decide to rerun some and that's what we'll do. Rerun it. So, yeah.

Drew Hannush (27:05.921)
Are you okay?

Drew Hannush (27:23.85)
As I think about that square still, I just think about how reflux happens and, um, and then you have this, uh, spirit that is in the corners and what, what does that, but you're heating consistent across the bottom of the entire still. Is that, is that correct? So

AJ (27:44.05)
Yeah, once you start heating, there's movement going on inside that still. It's just like boiling water, you know, once you heat it, it's moving. So it's not sitting still. It's not being mixed like it is in the big hybrid still. And you don't want to throw a bunch of corn in there. You want to separate it. And that's the reason why we'll run it through the hybrid still first, or we'll strain it like we do when we do our moonshine. We have a strain system that we've pumped.

out the liquid and leave the corn in the drums and reuse that corn again. So yeah.

Drew Hannush (28:17.77)
Oh, okay. So you're, so you're not doing on grain distilling with the moonshine. Am I understanding that? Okay. You're just distilling the liquid. Okay. Is that, is that the way that, uh, Casey used to do it in the bigger, uh, fire run still?

AJ (28:23.838)
No, we're not. Yeah, yeah.

Just a liquid. Yes. Yeah.

AJ (28:36.894)
Yeah, oh yeah, same kind of way. Separate out the liquid. I can tell you, I know when I first started doing this, experimenting with it, I've got a drum of corn and liquid in there all mixed up and we did it by hand with paddles and mixing it and the sugar and the corn. And then we would take a scoop and dip out the liquid. Turn the barrels on the side, get all the liquid out, you can, and then distill the liquid and leave the rest of it in there.

Drew Hannush (28:39.192)

AJ (29:06.05)
That's how we started. Of course, eventually we got a pump that we could actually, with strainer on the end, and we could actually strain out the liquid. And we still do that today, even with the new grandfathers, when it comes to the moonshine side of things. The bourbon, the corn is ground a little bit harsher, a little bit more, so it's a little bit harder to strain. So you can pull the liquid off and leave what's in the corn, but you're not gonna gain as much. So we run it through the hybrid still, which has a mixture.

Drew Hannush (29:18.467)
Okay. Yeah.

AJ (29:36.594)
mix it in corn and all and keep it from scorching and it works just fine.

Drew Hannush (29:42.042)
Okay. This is one of those things that as I've been bumping through some of this old history I find that there was someone who mentioned in one of the articles I was reaching and this article is from like 1870, 1880, somewhere around then. And they were going, we really kind of miss that scorched flavor we used to get out of our whiskey. They were reminiscing on the pleasure of that's what it...

AJ (30:08.425)
It's gorge.

Drew Hannush (30:09.442)
That's what said old whiskey to us, old fashioned whiskey was it had that fire scorch of the grain. And so it's interesting to see because I would say predominantly everybody's distilling on grain these days, but you have those that are, uh, are going the other route. And it's, it's just one of those things to kind of pay attention to when you're doing these distillery tours and, uh, hearing, you know,

AJ (30:12.172)

Drew Hannush (30:36.758)
all of a sudden on grain kind of has a meaning. And when you think about those old fire stills and how they had to clean those stills out, if they scorched the corn on the bottom of the still, a lot of extra work to do that. And plus that extra little bit of flavor that we might think is, yeah, that we might think is, that we think is annoying, but apparently somebody liked that taste because it brought back memories.

AJ (30:55.446)
did that in the beginning, yeah, with that new still.

AJ (31:04.066)
Well, if you think about it, I mean, you had a fried bologna sandwich. You know, some people like their bologna sandwich fried. They like it burnt, you know, and they like that taste of it. And some people don't like it burnt, you know, they don't want it burned at all. So I'm a burnt bologna guy, you know.

Drew Hannush (31:09.258)
Yes. Yeah.

Drew Hannush (31:13.559)
Yeah, yeah.

Drew Hannush (31:21.75)
Yeah, I like my eggs slightly not burnt, but I mean, I really brown. And I remember the first time I was cooking eggs for someone and they looked and they went, are you going to stop cooking those? I'm like, no, I like them, you know, to, to have a little bit of, they should be brown to me. They shouldn't be a yellow and white. I like, I like the brown for some reason. So yeah.

AJ (31:37.326)
I'm going to go ahead and turn it off.

AJ (31:44.834)
Brown. Yeah. Well, because the hybrid's still the first time, first few times we used it, we scorched some of the corn in the bottom of that. So we had to do some cleaning out, you know, learning how to operate that thing, too much steam on it. So just trial and error.

Drew Hannush (32:01.662)
Your hybrid still is very interesting too in that usually I tend to see the column head on top of the pot and your column head is actually to the side. What was the reasoning behind that?

AJ (32:09.864)

AJ (32:13.772)

AJ (32:17.07)
I liked it that way. Part of it had to do with height in our building, how tall our building was. But I like it that way because it's easier to get to the column and work on it than it is when you have to get over top of your pot still and to get to it. So it is much easier to work on it where it is. And I actually liked the way it operates better. So I did a little research about it whenever I was talking about it and talked to the people that made it quite a bit. And

the things that I wanted to know, they were able to answer. And so that's the reason why we came up with it off to the side. Um, it works great. Yeah. I love the way it works. So, uh, pretty simple. Um, once we got started with it, once we figured it out, you know, it was great. So, yeah.

Drew Hannush (33:04.522)
Yeah, what if you're trying to run it as a pot still? What happens once it gets to the column head or do you bypass the column head?

AJ (33:13.258)
You can bypass it. We have valves at the top. We can bypass the column and go straight as a pot still. You know, and that's sometimes as a stripping run, that's what we'll do where we want to rerun it through the square pot, we'll do it that way. And we've actually done a few runs for other people that we would just did stripping runs. So we bypassed the column and so forth.

Drew Hannush (33:23.607)

Drew Hannush (33:35.53)

So talk about this transition from, because you actually did do some moonshining yourself as I understand, uh, before you got into the, yeah, this is, this is where we get into that, uh, that part where sometimes when I'll talk to people online about it, uh, on the, on the video, uh, they're kind of like, well, yeah, sort of, you know, and they're, they're like, statute of limitations is run out, you're fine now.

AJ (33:46.188)

AJ (34:01.35)
Yeah, yeah, probably has. It's run out by now. But the thing about it is, you know, back playing around with it and all that stuff. I wouldn't sell it or anything like that. And there's a lot of people making moonshine now that if they're not selling, they don't bother them. You know, people are doing it at home, even though it's not still legal. Some states, it's legal by the state, but not still not legal by the federal anywhere. But they don't bother them unless they're out selling it, you know, and that's because they're

Drew Hannush (34:25.768)

AJ (34:30.398)
avoiding the taxes when they sell it like that. You're talking about taxes. Always say that my granddad didn't pay his taxes on it. My dad didn't pay his taxes on it. The federal government figured out how I could pay all that back. So I get to pay enough taxes to take care of all that, I believe. Yeah.

Drew Hannush (34:46.874)

Drew Hannush (34:51.609)
Nice. Yeah. They, they, uh, the, the tax system back in the, uh, 18 seventies was so screwy that, uh, they were paying a little tax for everything. They had to pay tax on the barrel. They had to pay tax on stamps. They had to pay tax on, uh, having, they had to pay for the storekeepers and gauges that were, uh, manning their distilleries. And it, it got to a point.

AJ (35:16.598)
Yep. Or issue my place to live and all that stuff. Yeah.

Drew Hannush (35:20.618)
Yeah, and it basically brought the whole entire industry almost to a halt in 1870 because they were almost basically outlawing the way that people had made whiskey for years and coming up with their own set of rules. So the government sometimes comes in and thinks they know how to tell the distiller what they need to do, but it's not always advantageous.

AJ (35:50.338)
Well, you know, they did pass back a few years ago and lowered the tax on bourbon whiskey from like, what was it, $13 something to $2.70, something like that since. So there was quite a bit of reduction on it that make it a difference. Otherwise, I don't know if the craft distilleries could survive if they kept it that way. I know we would have had a hard time if it stayed that way, just too much of it going out in taxes. When you see shit.

Drew Hannush (36:04.728)

Drew Hannush (36:12.281)

AJ (36:20.01)
There's state tax, federal tax, there's federal tax, you know, there's tax everywhere on us and so forth.

Drew Hannush (36:26.967)

I was reading in the old Crow, uh, somebody was giving a deposition in an old Crow trial in 1907. And it was an old timer. And, um, they asked him a question about, uh, the quality of old Crow. And he said, well, I used to be able to get it really cheap. And they're like, oh, so it wasn't a fine refined whiskey. He said, no, it's when the excise law came along. He said, before that you could get it cheap, but, uh, then all the taxes got thrown on top of it and it got expensive.

And as I was doing my research through old newspapers, you could get it at 15 cents a gallon in 1860 for whiskey. But then it was $2 a gallon by 1865. So that's the difference. It went from 15 cents to $2 in that short of a period of time.

AJ (37:06.775)

AJ (37:18.722)
Sure. Right. Yeah, inflation, right? We're all experiencing inflation now. So yeah.

Drew Hannush (37:23.838)
Yeah, that's mage-

Yeah, they call that a syntax, I think is what that was by a big stretch. So talk about this advance from where you were distilling before to where you're at now. I mean, like I say, when I was there initially, you were actually distilling on your homemade square still.

AJ (37:32.286)

AJ (37:51.342)
Mm-hmm. Yeah, yeah. That's the steel we used for probably the first seven years of our production. So on that, like I say, if you did do any kind of bourbon, you had to strain it out first before you could do it. So it was liquid only steel. But we would run, I mean, we had times like, I hope we're gonna talk about the eclipse soon, but in 2017, we were running that thing around the clock and we were running it, you know.

twice a day and seven days a week to make total eclipse moonshine, which we had trademarked for the eclipse. So we can really put out a lot of product and it just depends on how often you run it. But we usually ran it five days a week. And so we would make probably equivalent of maybe two barrels a week that we could put up of age product and still have some for our clear product that we sold.

So now with the new stills, we're putting up about three barrels a day of product and still able to make all the moonshine that we wanna make as well, which we can make a ton of it with the new still. So it's quite a bit of difference. Today with the Rick Owl's and putting up barrels, I think we put up close to 600 barrels last year. And

Drew Hannush (38:57.443)

Drew Hannush (39:10.327)

AJ (39:19.762)
weren't running full blast.

Drew Hannush (39:21.782)
Yeah. And now you have a bottling line and you even have cows outside your, do those cows get any of your spent mash?

AJ (39:25.33)
Oh yeah.

AJ (39:29.906)
No, the neighbor over here, he's not much into the spent mash, but you go down the road about three and a half miles, there's a big cattle operation. They come and pick it up twice a week from us and we don't have any issues as far as getting rid of the spent grain and his cows love it. You know, he describes it as crack cocaine for the cows, you know, what he says. They love it. So yeah. Yeah.

Drew Hannush (39:51.28)
Yeah. So it's nice to see you all spread out though now with a big bottling line and you, you've got a, I love the name. Is it a hammer mill or is it a roller mill? You got the Sasquatch. Okay. That's not.

AJ (39:57.131)

AJ (40:02.262)
It's a roller mill. We use a roller mill and it's called Sasquatch. Yeah. I love the name of it too. It's, it does its job on grinding that corn. So we did. Yeah. So we did, we did try to, when we put the operation in, make it as simple to run as we possibly could. So basically just two guys can run the mashing and the distilling operation and even fill some barrels, you know.

Drew Hannush (40:10.57)
Yeah, I thought hammer because it's Bigfoot.

AJ (40:31.258)
And then it really only takes one person to run that bottling line for a barrel. If you want to run two or three barrels to it, then we usually have three or four people on it. So it's made a difference in what we bottle and we do some contract distilling for other people now. We also do bottling for other people. We have a couple other smaller distilleries that we furnish product to, besides putting barrels out on the market with Barrel Global. Barrel Global has several barrels of our barrels.

Drew Hannush (40:42.122)

AJ (41:01.546)
And we're doing some contract for them right now. So it's made a change in our operation altogether as far as where we stand. And that was a goal was to quit playing around with it, you know, and become, become something in the, in the distillery business. So growing our name, distribution, you know, uh, got the total eclipse moonshine and verbin this year, uh, for the event coming up in 2024.

Drew Hannush (41:19.736)

AJ (41:29.782)
And then we also have a special bottle of the barrel-aged shine that we put up during the eclipse in 2017. And so that's been aging. It's been in the dark ever since then. And can I show you that bottle?

Drew Hannush (41:47.191)
Yeah, yeah, go ahead.

AJ (41:49.154)
So this is it right here. So this has been aging ever since 2017 and this is a special release that's only available here in the gift shop. So, and that'll be released on the 6th, which is the weekend of the eclipse. So.

Drew Hannush (41:52.578)
Very nice.

Drew Hannush (42:00.91)

Drew Hannush (42:06.242)
So you have a big viewing party out there?

AJ (42:09.982)
We will. It won't be anything like it was in 2017 where we had 6,000 people here the day of the eclipse. You know, we're not on the center line. We're about 99.69% totality. So if you go a little farther north, Paducah, they're 100%. So it makes a difference when you come to wanting people to view to come.

If we were in the 100%, we had a lot of people that wanted to come back from 2017. And they still may come. They still may come here. They'll, I know they'll visit. Um, and then we also, also did these too. Yeah. The total eclipse moonshine and bourbon. So this is a four green bourbon. Great drink. Yep.

Drew Hannush (42:44.49)
Yeah, I got lucky. Um, I was gonna say.

Drew Hannush (42:57.238)
Very nice. We will jump through and do a tasting on those here in just a moment. In terms of your, yeah, I mean, the eclipse is definitely something to see. It is definitely an event, because I'm in South Carolina, and the last one came right over us. So we were right almost in the path as well. And I think even if you're off by a little bit, it's still an amazing event.

AJ (43:03.522)

AJ (43:24.958)
Yeah, oh yeah, it's gonna be yeah. Well for us we've seen a full now We're kind of going to see a partial, you know, uh and a pretty big partial. So um You know, but that eclipse event was I mean it was a once in a lifetime thing for us And with the amount of people we had here, you know, we had 850 campers here You know from tents all the way up to the big Fancy campers We had a music we had a music festival. We started music friday night saturday night

Drew Hannush (43:49.454)

AJ (43:54.29)
Sunday night, then the eclipse was on Monday. We had hot air balloon rides. Saturday night, Sunday night, we had about 12,000 people through the distillery in a week. We had Greyhound buses come in from Indiana. We had five of those come in that had planned for, and we had space for them to park for people to see the eclipse. And that's, I got up, I got up.

Drew Hannush (44:07.246)

AJ (44:23.006)
morning of the eclipse and those buses were here. They had came in during the night. We had people watching the gates and letting people come in all night long. And anyway they came in I think like four o'clock in the morning because they were afraid traffic you know get here. And so soon as it got daylight they let all those people off those buses. I got up at six o'clock to come down here to get ready. There was people everywhere. Where did these people come from? Nobody

Drew Hannush (44:52.367)

AJ (44:52.486)
And then I saw the buses and realized that the buses had gotten there. Uh, but yeah, it was, it was crazy. A lot of people, people from all over the world and it was, uh, there were no issues. It was great. It was really as fascinating to meet all those people and, uh, you know, it's great to sell that much product. You know, that's kind of, I always describe it as the Kickstarter to part of the Kickstarter to Casey Jones Distillery. It jumped us.

Drew Hannush (45:20.194)
Very nice.

AJ (45:21.786)
to another level at the distillery.

Drew Hannush (45:24.986)
That's great. Well, and so now you've trademarked the name Total Eclipse. So this is your brand going forward, it appears.

AJ (45:30.53)

AJ (45:34.798)
Yeah, we actually, yeah, we trademarked it in two years before the eclipse and actually released it in 2015.

Drew Hannush (45:40.098)
Did you, so, so back then, did you know that there was another one coming through at 2024 because it seems that this, this was planned out that you were going to age this moonshine for seven years.

AJ (45:53.77)
Yeah, it was. We did. And we had people that came, signed the barrels while they were here from the eclipse. So a lot of people signed the barrels and so forth. It got pretty crowded. Not everybody got to that was here, but a lot of people did. So yeah, we did. We planned it for that. I wasn't sure if I'd be around by, yeah, that's a pretty, it seemed like a really long time when you're 2017, you're talking about 2024, you know, it seems like a long time, but it.

Drew Hannush (46:08.119)

Drew Hannush (46:13.09)
Ha ha

Drew Hannush (46:20.044)

AJ (46:23.818)
It pays to plan, you know, it really does pay to plan. So that's what we did. We trademarked it and actually people, we hired a company to rebrand us after the eclipse to help get our level, our labels to where they need to be. And our overall look of everything, you know, from merchandise to everything. And they really didn't want to do the total eclipse. They said, Oh, that won't, that's done. That's passed. You know, you won't sell that.

Drew Hannush (46:28.342)

Drew Hannush (46:41.747)

AJ (46:54.038)
That's one of our featured products, you know, and so finally they finally they came along with it and did it and you know we've sold it ever since it's one of our it's our number one selling moonshine So yeah

Drew Hannush (46:56.6)

Drew Hannush (47:07.328)
Well, I have some in my glass and as I was doing a read on the information I was sent, it says this is a relaunch. So what moonshine have you been selling in between? Have you just been doing flavored moonshines in between?

AJ (47:23.902)
We have actually had a total eclipse moonshine different label Ever since the eclipse and in our ever since 2015 We've gone through one two. We're on our third label for total clips This label will stay this label represents 17 and 24 together on it. It shows the big X

Drew Hannush (47:27.619)

Drew Hannush (47:41.203)

AJ (47:49.938)
On the United States where they both crossed at, you know, which is not very far from here. Um, it's, it's a, it's, we do another version. We do a couple other versions. We do a 92 proof, which is what we originally started with. And originally, um, I've heard dad talk about Casey, like, and to have his, his proof down in the 90s. So that's why we come up with the 92 proof. Then we came out with a hundred proof, a hundred percent totality for the hundred proof.

Drew Hannush (48:11.606)

AJ (48:18.466)
Total Eclipse Moonshine, stuck with it. And then we have a steel proof, which is 118 proof that we sell. It's very popular. We sell it in a 1.75 liter jug. Yeah.

Drew Hannush (48:24.692)

Drew Hannush (48:31.374)
Ah, okay. You are going old school with a jug.

AJ (48:35.55)
Yeah, we do it. We also sell what we call KC Select in a 1.75 liter jug too. So half gallon jugs basically. Yeah. We can. We can, but we don't. But we could. We do it. You know, we do a drink called the Moonerita. And we sell a lot of Moonerita kits, which we have a jug that has the measurements.

Drew Hannush (48:42.518)
Oh, very nice. Yeah. Do you do refills? Ha ha ha.

Drew Hannush (48:50.496)

AJ (49:02.826)
and tells people exactly how to make it and they get that jug when they buy a kit. And so like the 1.75 liter jug, you can make four half gallons of Moonerita with it. And so very popular, we sell a ton of it. We go through a lot of Moonerita jugs that we give away with the kit. So yeah.

Drew Hannush (49:24.554)
Yeah. We so often see the Mason jar, but it's like, uh, the jug is, uh, the jug is where it's at. Yeah. That was, so they, they weren't carrying Mason jars around with them back in the old days. They, they had those, uh, cause I mean, bottles were expensive in those, uh, in those early days. So, uh, yeah. Um,

AJ (49:35.602)
Yeah, that's where it was.

AJ (49:45.023)

Yep. I remember dad talking about people would bring their jugs back to get refills to buy, you know, because of that. Yeah.

Drew Hannush (49:54.678)
Yeah. Absolutely. Um, so you do, I mean, you have, uh, one of the most extensive tastings, I think of any distillery that I've been to because they, uh, set me up 10 samples. Uh, and that's not, uh, that's not usual. Sometimes I go into a place and it's, uh, you know, they'll give you four samples with a little drip at the bottom of each glass. And, uh, you're, uh,

AJ (50:00.803)
Hear em.

AJ (50:19.724)

Drew Hannush (50:21.198)
You're given a wide selection. So if you like moonshine or you like a whiskey, you can kind of, kind of have your own choice.

AJ (50:28.638)
Yep. We also like to say we let them taste what the mooner readers taste like to make the kit. And that's the reason why we sell a lot of kits. A lot of kits.

Drew Hannush (50:36.51)
Yeah. So moonshine to me always kind of has a particular nose to it. But yours actually kind of has more of a savory kind of nose to it to me for some reason. It's really interesting because sometimes it can be overly sweet or sometimes you get kind of a burnt, I call it the rum effect where you get kind of a burnt sugar kind of a note in here. But it's hard to put my finger on exactly

AJ (50:59.708)

Drew Hannush (51:06.435)
Where where this nose is at? Well, how do you describe your moonshine?

AJ (51:12.462)
Well, I get, most of the time I get a little bit of an apple with the moonshine. When I smell that's what I get. Um, um, maybe a little bit of the caramel from the cane. Um, but we, we try not to strip too much away from the product when you're distilling. The more you distill it, the more flavors you get rid of. Uh, so we try to keep it safe, but we try to keep.

Drew Hannush (51:16.932)

Drew Hannush (51:26.123)

Drew Hannush (51:38.454)

AJ (51:41.762)
flavor there and you're going to get a I think of quite a bit of corn flavor as well to it. So if you don't like corn, you're not going to like the moonshine. But I don't I've never run across anybody that hadn't liked their moonshine. That don't say it's some of the best they've ever had. So

Drew Hannush (51:48.706)

Hahaha. S-

Drew Hannush (51:56.886)
Yeah, citrus-

Yeah, the citrus, I get a little citrus, I get a little apple on the, and it's probably coming from, uh, power of suggestion as well. But those kind of stand out to me, um, on that. And sometimes the thing I have against moonshine is that sometimes it's a little too yeasty, uh, because it hasn't had that time to sit in a barrel. But I don't necessarily get that out of your, uh, out of your moonshine. It's like, yeah, I mean,

AJ (52:10.26)

AJ (52:27.11)
Awesome. I didn't pay you to say that either, right?

Drew Hannush (52:31.014)
There's an overly doughy-ness, I think, I guess would be a better way to explain it on a lot of moonshines, and I don't tend to get that on this one. Very nice. It says on the side of the bottle distilled in age. Do you throw this in a barrel at all, or is that?

AJ (52:42.27)
Awesome. Yep.

AJ (52:51.574)
The distilled and aged should be on the barrel cut. Moonshine should be distilled from corn and cane.

Drew Hannush (52:59.258)
Okay. Yeah. So.

AJ (53:03.214)
Yeah. Now the, this one, uh, this one is aged that when I was showing you earlier, that's the barrel cut. That's your moonshine, uh, recipe aged in a barrel, new chartled barrel, just like a bourbon. Um, you

Drew Hannush (53:10.734)
that one there.

Drew Hannush (53:22.258)
And it threw me at first because the first things I saw were single barrel and I saw the color and that led me to think that it was bourbon. So when I first started tasting it, you come with all of the things that you think a bourbon is going to have and then you start tasting it and I'm going, this is really very different. It's like I always get vanilla custard on this. It's like that sweetness of the corn.

AJ (53:37.396)

Drew Hannush (53:52.67)
mixing with the barrel is really kind of enhancing kind of that vanilla and buttery custard kind of note in there.

AJ (54:01.326)
Yeah, a lot of times we'll get a lot of caramel notes from it when it's aged like that. There's some barrels that sometimes that we when we do some of these batches of things that I will not throw in a batch because it is so good. It's got to be a single barrel, you know, because it's just it's done its thing right, you know. The barrels brought out some.

Drew Hannush (54:04.769)

Drew Hannush (54:19.81)
Yeah, yeah.

Drew Hannush (54:26.518)
Is this a number four? Is it?

AJ (54:28.938)
Number four, we have done some number two, but mostly number four, number four char. I'm not sure we've opened any of our number two char that we've put up yet. So, yeah, number four.

Drew Hannush (54:33.604)

Drew Hannush (54:39.202)
Did you, did you have any hesitations or worry that, you know, you got seven years and this is going to be sitting in a warehouse, did you find you had to baby these in a particular way to make sure that they didn't over, uh, overcook?

AJ (54:53.97)
No, I know the first couple of years on this product, it was in the distillery here where you were talking about earlier where we used to bottle and used to be barreled. So it didn't get a lot of the different climate change to it. So it didn't age like it would have been if it'd been in a rick house as fast. So I wasn't worried about it. I had tasted other barrels that had been up a pretty good while, but I actually had never tasted this product.

Drew Hannush (55:04.558)

Drew Hannush (55:20.206)

AJ (55:23.586)
until I was on another podcast last week. And they had dumped this bottle, the seven-year stuff, and my grandson had, and Cody, and they had done some video and put it in the bottle and never saved a sample for me because I was out with the flute. And they didn't save me a sample. So I had not tasted that until we got on the podcast. I said, I'll just...

I'm going to save it, you know, and I'll do it with the guys on the podcast and stuff. And it was, it was, it was kind of neat to taste it after all that time. We had never got into that barrel. We'd never touched it. Never tapped into it. We have several like that bit. I knew it would be good. I knew.

Drew Hannush (56:01.294)

Drew Hannush (56:05.962)
Wow. So, yeah. So this was, I mean, that is saying a lot that you had the belief in it enough. Have you aged any moonshines this long before?

AJ (56:21.834)
No, this is the longest, this is the longest we've aged. And, you know, I wished I'd kept some back in the beginning when we first started, but we needed to sell at that time. So we were selling some of this stuff when it wasn't, but a year old, you know, uh, and people were loving it. So, you know, had sell it, had go with it and had to make some money. Yeah.

Drew Hannush (56:31.673)

Drew Hannush (56:39.562)
Yeah, that's yeah, it's really nice on the palette and I, and it makes me think, um, that this should become a thing going on that you should have these. How long till the next eclipse?

AJ (56:50.53)

AJ (56:55.894)
Oh, well, I don't know. I don't think we have one probably in here in our lifetime. There's it happens other places, you know, other countries, but not here. We actually, uh, there was a clips after 2017. I think it was in 19 that we, we had a bunch of clips glasses left over. We actually sent it to that country. Uh, for those people to use, we didn't, we didn't want to keep them till 24.

Drew Hannush (56:57.442)


Drew Hannush (57:23.481)

AJ (57:24.734)
And so we sent them for them to use, which worked out good. Yeah. So anyway.

Drew Hannush (57:30.607)
What was your experience when you first tasted this and you're live and people are looking at you, wondering what your impression is going to be? What stuck out to you?

AJ (57:37.485)

Um, it was, it was, it was great. It was the product tasted really good. Um, um, I actually was surprised a little bit by some of it. Um, uh, I just, it was great. I mean, it was fun doing it on the podcast. You know, it was fun doing it with the guys doing it on it. Um, I sent him a bottle later so they could taste it later. Um, you actually got one. We sent you one ahead of time and you have, have you opened it?

Drew Hannush (57:56.366)

Drew Hannush (58:08.254)
Yeah, I have. I'm sipping it right now. Really nice. Uh, yeah, like I say on the, on the nose, the sweetness is there. It's a lot of what you would expect out of, um, out of the barrel, but, um, there's almost like, I get like a cola note out of it. I'm getting that vanilla custard coming out of it. Um, and then what really threw me was, uh, when I was tasting it, and maybe this is because I thought it was a bourbon when I first started tasting it.

AJ (58:10.03)
Try it.

Are ya?

Drew Hannush (58:37.886)
I always get like a little herbally rye note in it. Um, and it's like, where's that coming from? You know? Yeah. Okay. Yeah, go ahead.

AJ (58:42.775)

Yeah. Look, I'm going to grab my bottle and I'm going to taste with you. All right. Give me just a second.

AJ (59:11.07)
I knew I'd forgot something for this cat if I'd get it.

Drew Hannush (59:15.367)
There you go. Yeah, this is definitely an event because like I say, a seven year old moonshine. I can't think of anybody that's really done that. And.

AJ (59:17.003)

AJ (59:25.087)
So we have a lot of, we have a lot of customers that come just for the barrel cut. They are, they are hooked on the barrel cut. They were bourbon drinkers and now they're hooked on barrel cut. So.

Drew Hannush (59:31.47)

AJ (59:39.734)
Yeah, like you say, you get kind of a little bit of that ride note, especially when, you know, this way.

Drew Hannush (59:48.59)

Drew Hannush (59:51.962)
Just really nice sweetness, vanilla sweetness coming through on this.

Drew Hannush (59:59.103)
Nice easy drinker at that proof.

AJ (01:00:04.648)

Drew Hannush (01:00:05.566)
Yeah, of course you're the man that made it, but yeah.

AJ (01:00:14.634)
I actually get some, like I say, I get the Kerr and one notes to it too. Yeah. So that's coming from.

Drew Hannush (01:00:20.01)
Yeah, yeah. And I think that's part of when I get, when I talk about that custard, I grab at things that just the impression that it gives me. And so many times, times I'll say caramel when it's probably more vanilla, cause that's kind of my weak spot in the, in the difference between the two. But for some reason, this one, the vanilla was like going, Hey,

AJ (01:00:38.103)

Drew Hannush (01:00:48.066)
This is much more in the vanilla for me, but yeah, that caramel's there too. And a little bit of a citrus note too, but it's just a really nice, easy drinker. And what's the proof on this? This is 118? 109, okay, 109. Okay. And then the last one, which I like to say is very balanced whiskey, is this Total Eclipse Kentucky Straight Bourbon. So is this a brand new?

AJ (01:01:02.406)
109, this is 109, yep, 109.

Drew Hannush (01:01:17.698)
version of this whiskey for you.

AJ (01:01:20.522)
Yeah, we've been doing this for over a year now. Um, and it's a four grain actually probably a year and a half. Might be, might be two. Um, but it's a four grain. So, um, it gives it a unique taste and, uh, um, you've got a little bit of wheat and rye in it, um, besides your corn and malt. We have our, our tasting girls, our, our staff that does the tastings for people.

Drew Hannush (01:01:25.731)

Drew Hannush (01:01:31.47)

AJ (01:01:50.338)
They all really like this really well. So they're all really like, you know, uh, an influence on the customers when they, when they taste it. And I've got this bottle of retails, uh, at a, at a lower price. I've got some bottles that retail hire and I said, girls, you're supposed to be pushing the hired stuff, you know, but we like, we like the total Eclipse Mervin, just so, okay, you gotta be honest, you know, you gotta be honest when you're doing it. So yeah.

Drew Hannush (01:02:10.478)
Ha ha

Drew Hannush (01:02:16.07)
Yeah. Well, it helps you know what you need to make more of in the future as well. Speaking of that, where is it available if people are looking for it besides coming to the distillery?

AJ (01:02:22.246)
Oh yeah. Yep, it does.

AJ (01:02:31.038)
Um, it's available here in Kentucky and available online. We, um, we have a couple of distribution centers that can ship just about to any state in the country and they have it at their locations to ship out. Um, we can ship here in Kentucky and then it's available and, uh, some of the surrounding stores, some in Louisville, some in Paducah, you know, the areas where the eclipse are, are kind of hitting at, so, and it's

Drew Hannush (01:02:40.706)

AJ (01:02:59.286)
The bourbon's going out more and more every day. Got an order coming through from a distributor today to go out on the bourbon. So, yep, getting out there and getting them.

Drew Hannush (01:03:06.486)
Okay. There is something, there's a mystery on the end of this whiskey. It's like when it starts out for me, it's like butterscotch, brown sugar, a little bit of char notes in there. And then once you get into it, it's like on the finish, there's a surprise. It turns into a flavor and I cannot figure out what that flavor is that it hits, but it's just like every time I have sipped

AJ (01:03:12.987)
Thanks for watching!

Drew Hannush (01:03:36.822)
Uh, after you sit there for a minute and, um, it's one of those, I guess. It's fun when that happens because it's a flavor I have yet to really discover. So I need to, I need to figure that out. Um, but it's really interesting to. There you go. I have to keep experimenting and keep experimenting until I can nail what that flavor is, but it's just interesting how a whiskey can sit on your palate for a period of moments.

AJ (01:03:51.699)
You can always get another bottle or two.

Drew Hannush (01:04:06.646)
And then all of a sudden just shift flavors. It's like, um, I've had very few whiskeys that have done that for me, but when it happens, it's like a curiosity. What is going on in my mouth that suddenly this whiskey is changing character? Yeah.

AJ (01:04:21.986)
changing. Yeah. Well, you know, I've not really had anybody describe it like that. So, you're the first to have heard of that. But now that you're saying that, I could probably relate to that. So that's one, one flavor is overpowering the other one after a certain amount of time. And, and yeah.

Drew Hannush (01:04:31.394)

Drew Hannush (01:04:40.99)
Yeah. It's like the oils are there and then they either some oils are remaining that are keeping a flavor on your palate while the others are dissipating. I don't know what it is, but it's just kind of like taking a turn all of a sudden in the tasting experience, which is great because that adds a fourth dimension to it. You're used to nosing, palate, finish, and then extra finish on this. So that's a really interesting whiskey.

Well, let's talk about, uh, for people who are wanting to come out that direction, you guys are actually tied in with two other distilleries in the area. There's a lot of people who go, Oh, I want to go to Kentucky and do the, the Kentucky bourbon trail. Uh, West Kentucky can seem like it's a bit distant. Although I say you're probably just as easily reachable from Nashville, uh, as, as Louisville, um, in, in that respect.

AJ (01:05:35.426)

Drew Hannush (01:05:37.698)
But you guys decided to team up with some other distilleries to create an extra special experience. Can you talk a little bit about that?

AJ (01:05:46.57)
Yeah, all three of us, it's us, Envy Rowland and O'Glory Distilling, which is right across the state line. All good friends, we've all worked together on projects in the past. We've worked together a bunch during COVID, making sanitizer and so forth, supporting each other in that project. But we decided, you know, we're on the craft trail. And we do see a lot of craft people come to finish the tour.

But we also decided we're close enough together within 30 minutes of each other that people could do a tour of one day if they wanted to with all three distilleries and wind up with a nice reward at the end of that tour. And not just take it once, but bring family and friends, take it twice, three times once they learned about it and how cool it was. So it's been really, really popular that people do the state line. And we'll have people, like you say, come out of Nashville.

just for the purpose of doing the state line whiskey tour. You know, if you do the Tennessee Trail and the Kraft Urban Trail, it's pretty long. It takes a long time to do all those. You can actually do the state line in a day or a weekend. And we have a lot of people that travel through from other states that we see a lot of Wisconsin traffic, Illinois, Minnesota, Wisconsin. Like I say, we see a lot of those people that come through that.

may do part of the trail on one of the trips, then the next time they do, they'll finish it on the next trip. But we're all straight right off of I-24. So start Tennessee, across the line, there's Envy Rowland, go north a little bit to like the Cades area and get off, here we are. They're the closest to the interstate, they're right on the interstate, we're about 15 minutes off the interstate. So works out well and people love it.

Drew Hannush (01:07:40.918)
Yeah. I say, I say started MB Roland, go to Casey next, and then end up at old girl glory cause old glory now has a restaurant. So, uh, yeah.

AJ (01:07:49.558)
They now have a restaurant. Yeah. Unless it's Friday or Saturday night, we have food trucks and we're open till nine o'clock so they can do it that way too. But yeah, it's great to do the restaurant. Or if you're doing, you start out one in the morning and you go to one for lunch, like go glory and then come on to us. It depends on where, where you live at, how you're going to run that route. Cause we have a lot of people come out in Nashville that want to start here and wind up there cause it's closer. Then we have some that want to wind up here.

Drew Hannush (01:07:56.704)
Yeah, yeah.

Drew Hannush (01:08:16.92)

AJ (01:08:19.814)
and then hit straight back.

Drew Hannush (01:08:20.746)
Yeah. Well, you got the pond out back in the, in the lawn chair. So in the summertime, I'd say it'd be a nice place to finish out, kick up your feet for a little while and have a chat.

AJ (01:08:29.374)
Yeah. Oh yeah, people love to come out and just hang out. And you know, we're pet friendly and we see a lot of people bring their dogs out, walk around the lake and all that stuff. We have some regulars that come all the time for that, just for that purpose. Cause it's a nice place to walk and all that stuff. Stretch your legs and let the animals stretch their legs. And we're pet friendly, kid friendly. We require kids on a leash and fits run free.

Drew Hannush (01:08:44.259)

Drew Hannush (01:08:58.508)
Very nice. Well, before I let you go, I want to, I want to get one more story from the old days in here. Uh, because I heard this while I was on my tour and, uh, and I love this. I love this story. Um, Casey was building his square stills, but there was a point where he actually had the feds.

AJ (01:08:59.927)
That's what I always tell everybody when they ask are you kid friendly, pet friendly? Yeah.

Drew Hannush (01:09:24.183)
uh, bearing down on him, uh, and he found a very unique hiding space. Can you, can you tell that story?

AJ (01:09:29.73)
Oh yeah, yeah. So he's actually repairing the steel for a customer that he had filled it for, had gotten damaged. And he actually went to their site and was repairing it. And he's actually down in it. This was a big steel and he was down inside of it doing repair work. And they were supposed to hand him stuff when he needed it. And that was working okay. And then all of a sudden he's asking for something and nobody's handing him stuff and nobody's answering.

So he sticks his head up out of that still and he sees them running away. And he immediately just ducks back down in that still. And he actually falls up right in the middle of it and hoping that they wouldn't see him. And he knew what was probably gonna happen. He heard them dumping over the mash barrels and busting them up with axes. He knew that's probably what was fixing to happen to this still. But...

He took his chances because if he'd have came out of it, he was going away for a little while. This would have been his third time. He wasn't really making steels then, he was just doing a repair job for a friend. But anyway, it wasn't worth getting caught. He's laying down in there and they start with those actions and they start chopping that steel up. They put holes in the sides of it where it won't hold and all that stuff. He just stays in there and he stays down there for a till.

Drew Hannush (01:10:35.972)

AJ (01:10:57.378)
dark and for a pretty good while before he ever crawls out of it and runs off. But the thing about it was he said was it said to I had a little repair job now I got a big repair job but he didn't get caught so nobody got caught on that one. Yeah, yeah.

Drew Hannush (01:11:12.587)
Nice. Otherwise it'd be a very different story probably in terms of having to go back to prison again. Man. Yeah, it's fun to hear these old stories and in a way you kind of wish that you could have documented all of that stuff for us for the future, but we get little bits of stories from you.

AJ (01:11:19.018)
Oh yeah, yeah.

AJ (01:11:34.606)
Oh yeah. Yeah, I've, you know, I've had, since I've put in the distillery, some of Casey's daughters here, I've had three of them here that come to see how this place was. They'd heard about it and knew I had done it. And they tell me, you know, as a kid, you know, when he was doing this stuff that they got in trouble if they even mentioned what he was doing.

the kid starts talking about, you know, granddad's making a still or dad's making a still, then somebody's going to get in trouble. But there was one of them was telling me about the fact that he, um, he built one in the, uh, in the attic of the house once and had to take off the gable end of the house to get it out, but he built it in the attic. So it would be hidden. So yeah, that was kind of a different work space there. I would imagine.

Drew Hannush (01:12:09.667)

Drew Hannush (01:12:25.972)

Drew Hannush (01:12:33.036)

AJ (01:12:33.27)
trying to do one in the attic. I've been a lot of trips up and down, but you had to be creative. It's just like when they had barrels, then when they tried to age product and stuff, a lot of them buried their barrels in the ground. Of course, it's not gonna get a lot of heat changed to work right, but they did anyway, so yeah. Yeah.

Drew Hannush (01:12:38.452)

Drew Hannush (01:12:46.859)
Mmm. Breathe.

Yeah. It's kind of like rapin and cellophane. They've done those experiments before and said, Oh, doesn't really age quite so, uh, quite the same way that way. Yeah.

AJ (01:13:02.014)
Yeah, prior to our rick houses, you know, we've aged in these containers that we have here. And believe it or not, they age product really well because they get really hot in the summertime and really cold in the wintertime. So there's a lot of heat changing back and forth, you know, times of the year on that product and so forth. So it does a really great job. You have to kind of watch. You'll have a big loss though. They get too hot, you know, too many leaks. So, but yeah. Yeah.

Drew Hannush (01:13:25.966)
Mmm. Yeah. So how do people find out more information about Casey Jones? You on social media and website.

AJ (01:13:37.706)
Yep, we're on social media. We have website, Casey Jones distillery.com, Instagram. You know, we're on a craft bourbon trail. We're on the state line, uh, whiskey tour. Um, we, um, you know, have distribution in Kentucky, uh, Texas, California, uh, Arizona, Atlanta, Tennessee, um, uh, Michigan, uh, Illinois, Wisconsin.

New York, New Jersey, and three provinces in Canada right now. And we just got back from market, world market, and are fixing to be in Germany and some other places. So that's kind of going to be neat. You know, had a little Casey Jones over in Germany. Yeah.

Drew Hannush (01:14:10.702)
Very nice.

Drew Hannush (01:14:21.906)
Very nice, very nice. All right, well, thank you, Casey. I mean, I got Casey on the mind. AJ, I really appreciate you. He's my best friend. Well, there we go, OK. He's my best friend. Yes.

AJ (01:14:30.122)
Yeah, well Casey is my middle name now. I'm Arlon Casey Jones Casey is my middle name So before you go This pack you got that pack

Drew Hannush (01:14:40.366)
I did get that bad. That is great packaging by the way. And I got my, I got my glasses.

AJ (01:14:43.294)
Oh, we're, this is, right, free glasses, pair of free glasses with the bourbon and moonshine. So yeah, those are amazingly selling really fast and so forth. And we actually sent some of these to out in California. They wanted some of the product out there. So they're not even in the path of the eclipse. I don't think so. They'll get it center later. Yeah.

Drew Hannush (01:14:55.342)
Very nice.

Drew Hannush (01:15:01.974)
Oh, very nice. They'll get it sooner or later somewhere along the line. Yeah, exactly. I had to wait a whole lifetime before I saw an eclipse, but I finally got one in 2017.

AJ (01:15:12.27)
Yeah, Drew, I really appreciate you. I really appreciate you taking the time to call in and let's chat, you know. We chatted before, but this was a great conversation. Yeah, enjoyed it.

Drew Hannush (01:15:24.55)
Yeah. Well, thank you. Thank you. It's I want you guys to get recognition because, uh, you know, a lot of, like I say, a lot of people will look at the bourbon trail and they may not think of going out to West Kentucky because it looks like it's a distance away. And it's like, no, look, you can go to all the big distilleries in Kentucky, but you got to go to some of the smaller ones as well and see what they're doing out there. Cause you guys are, uh, where all of this fun innovation comes from. And

doing seven year old moonshines and, uh, and things like that. That's a, it's fantastic. So I'm always rooting for you guys.

AJ (01:16:02.834)
You know who Fred Minick is, right? So Fred got a hold of one of our moonshines, aged moonshines, and he actually said it was one of the best aged moonshines he'd ever tasted. So that was kind of neat too. Yeah, it was very neat. Yeah.

Drew Hannush (01:16:04.824)

Drew Hannush (01:16:16.79)
I, absolutely. I wish I had his palette, but, uh, I will, I will say from my own drinking standpoint, that was very enjoyable. And thank you for the bottle. Cause I will enjoy that one for sure. Yeah. Well, thank you, AJ. I really appreciate it. And, uh, wish you all the best of luck and, uh, enjoy the eclipse.

AJ (01:16:26.09)
Yeah, yeah, yeah. Awesome, good deal.

AJ (01:16:38.774)
Yep, sure will. So, to the eclipse, right? Cheers.

Drew Hannush (01:16:41.998)
To the eclipse, cheers.

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