During Yahoo Y’All week, we’re celebrating the food culture of the American South. Expect profiles of cooks, makers, and bartenders, plus recipes showcasing the classics (and twists on those classics) you love. Today we’re spotlighting an artisan featured in the gorgeous book Southern Makers: Food, Design, Craft, and Other Scenes from the Tactile Life, by photographer and writer Jennifer Causey.
North Carolinian Troy Ball is one of the few women in America to found and operate a distillery (which she does alongside her husband, Charlie). She was inspired by “keeper” moonshine—the small batch of the best stuff that rarely leaves a family’s home—that she once received as a gift. Ball apprenticed with “mountain moonshine makers” and took master distilling classes, perfecting her product along the way.
Here’s a closer look at what makes Ball’s spirits unique, from Causey’s point of view.
Troy Ball creates small-batch, handcrafted spirits that, as she claims and others agree,“any credible moonshiner would drink himself.” The Texas native and mother of three grown boys moved her family to the Blue Ridge Mountains of Asheville in 2004. Her love of moonshine, and the idea to pursue the business, was sparked by a neighbor’s welcome gift: a jar of homemade hooch.
In 2010, Troy and her husband, Charlie, opened Asheville Distilling Company, founded on the so-called “keeper” whiskey (old-time moonshiners are known for keeping their best whiskey for themselves). Troy’s moonshine is made from pure Appalachian spring water, locally grown white corn, and heirloom Crooked Creek Corn, a white corn that is only grown in North Carolina. She gets her supply from the nearby McEntire farm, where it has been cultivated for more than 120 years. In addition to their signature white Platinum Moonshine whiskey, the distillery offers a bourbon barrel–aged Oak Reserve and the newly released Blonde Whiskey, a smooth spirit with no burn or bite.
The distillery’s current home is in a 3,000-square-foot space located in the former Southern Railway Wheelhouse. It houses a custom-made 5,000-liter copper still and state-of-the-art distilling equipment. The building is part of the Highland Brewing Co. and Tasting Room, which hosts live music, food, and tastings. From here, Troy pursues her commitment to distill “kinder spirits, smoother whiskeys” and to distribute this proudly Southern product across the country.
Photos and text excerpted with permission from Southern Makers: Food, Design, Craft, and Other Scenes from the Tactile Life, by Jennifer Causey (Princeton Architectural Press, 2013).
Check out the following to read about other Southern makers:
Meet Two of Nashville’s Indie Brewers
The Southern Company Inspired by a Hard-Living Grandpa
Vivian Howard Tackles the Veggie Burger on ‘A Chef’s Life’