The Secret City Spirits distillery proposed in west Oak Ridge could be the first of its kind in the city, and it could make bourbon and rum, and flavored unaged liquor.
Secret City Spirits would be located at 1990B Oak Ridge Turnpike, next to United Grocery Outlet.
The co-owners are brothers Eric and Nathan Edmonds of Roane County, Tom Price of Knox County, and Michael Schrage of Chattanooga.
The liquor would be aged on the property. The Oak Ridge Board of Zoning Appeals approved a property exception on Tuesday to allow for light manufacturing, aging, and bottling of liquor for eventual distribution at the property.
The owners said they won’t have a storefront for now. Some liquors have to age for two years. But rums can be produced in less time than that and so can flavored unaged liquors.
The owners have a distributor lined up, and they said they will probably sell online through Caskers, a craft liquor website.
They do eventually hope to have a storefront. They already have a still. It can be used to make vodka, rum, brandy, and unaged liquors.
They also have a mash tun, which brings corn up to temperature and brings out the starches. Liquors will be aged in charred white oak barrels.
The short-term production goal is 1,000 gallons per month. They still need a state license and federal permit.
Asked about other similar businesses in the area, they said there is a startup in Knoxville called Knox Whiskey Works.
Owners interviewed Tuesday said they’ve worked their entire careers in Oak Ridge, and they have scientific experience.
“We thought this would be the best place to bring it,” said Nathan Edmonds.
Making liquor is mostly about pressure and temperature, they said. They plan to start small to ensure their quality stays good, and they could increase production by adding stills later.
More information will be added as it becomes available.
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