FAIRPLAIN - A distillery locating in Jackson County is moving forward with construction and could be doing business by the end of the year, the owner said.
The 10,000-square-foot Appalachian Mountain Distillery is under construction at a site in Fairplain near Interstate 77, said owner Dwayne Freeman.
Earlier this year, Freeman tried to get approval to build in the Ravenswood area, but a petition was started locally from people who did not want a distillery in the community, based on religious beliefs as well as the city's own zoning ordinances.
Some of the distillery equipment planned for the Appalachian Mountain Distillery facility being constructed in Fairplain in Jackson County. The company recently received a preliminary loan approval from the West Virginia Economic Development Authority for $81,000 to purchase equipment.
Due to the opposition, Freeman decided to seek another site in Jackson County. He said people around the Fairplain area have been more receptive to the distillery.
"The people I have talked in Fairplain are really excited," Freeman said. "We have gotten a lot of support locally."
The company is planning to produce a legal form of clear corn whiskey moonshine. Plans are in the works to distribute the product from the Jackson County facility to locations all over the state and beyond. There are also plans to set up a retail operation and tours at its site that Freeman hopes will become a tourist attraction with its proximity to the interstate.
Appalachian Mountain Distillery recently received a preliminary loan approval from the West Virginia Economic Development Authority for $81,000 to purchase equipment, said Mark Whitley, Jackson County development director.
Whitley said the company was also applying to the Mid-Ohio Valley Regional Council and a local lender for additional funding.
The company has worked out a long-term lease with the property's owner and developer.
"The facility will represent a capital investment of close to $1 million," Whitley said.
Freeman said it was important for them to remain in Jackson County.
"I like the area and the people here," he said. "This is where I live. I think it is a wonderful place to do business."
Freeman hopes the facility will be done sometime this Fall.
"We hope we will be producing by Christmas if at all possible," he said.
Freeman said they will be working from a family recipe that has been refined over the decades.
"We hope it is something people will like," he said.
He is hoping to be able to employ from five to six people during the first year of operation with more being added if the business is successful. He would like to see around 15 employees within a couple of years.
Freeman is looking to offer flavored Moonshine such as peach, apple pie, strawberry and blackberry among others as well as eventually diversifying its product offerings with wines.
"This is something that I wanted to do, especially with my experience with wine," he said of starting the distillery. "It is my passion."