Reviving an American tradition: a chat with master distiller Chuck Miller
A drink that goes back as far as the founding of America
We had the opportunity to sit down with Chuck Miller, Stillhouse’s 3rd generation master distiller, to explore their corn whiskey. In the process, we discovered the roots of America’s alcohol, the life of Chuck and the drink he’s created.
400 year old tradition
A crash course on the origin of corn whiskey moonshine was given by Chuck. He informed us that the drink goes back as far as the founding of America. Basically, “Moonshine is America’s original drink,” as Chuck coins it. The drink hit it’s peak during prohibition when guys like Chuck’s grandfather made and sold the stuff while hidden in the boonies. After the alcohol ban was lifted, those guys didn’t stop working on their craft.
The master distiller
With training learned from his grandfather, a prohibition era whiskey dealer/distiller, he has a world class education on the subject of moonshine. Chuck maintains his humble roots even with a nationwide launch of his whiskey. He has always distilled as a hobby on his farm in Culpeper, VA, but only until his drink was discovered by chef/restaurateur, Adam Perry Lang, did he start making whiskey full time. About a year ago, he was just another farmer growing crops.
“Moonshine is America’s original drink.- Chuck Miller
Now that he can dedicate his full attention to making whiskey, he wants to take the traditional drink and “bring it back out to the open.” Chuck says “America needs to remember their roots. Where it all came from.”
Stillhouse Distillery at Belmont Farm
Culpeper, VA, where the Stillhouse Distillery can be found, has a rich history as an important position during the Civil War with more troop movement than any other location in the nation. MOONSHINE® is made at the Stillhouse Distillery from corn that Chuck grows. Quality and consistency of the source product is important and he is able to maintain it by growing his own. Stillhouse is far from a corporate mega-distillery. Their workforce has two full-timers and a handful of part-time staff. We’ve already offered to help by running the tractor, cleaning the bathrooms or whatever if we ever get down there.
Chef Adam contributed the knowledge of his trained palette to refine the whiskey to it’s current form by breaking down and emphasizing the positive qualities that are found in whiskey and getting rid of the bad ones. Distilled four times in a prohibition-era copper pot still and charcoal filtered, MOONSHINE® has a taste that Chuck describes as “clean, smooth, and refreshing” he boasts of the versatility of his drink saying that it goes well neat or mixed.
How does Chuck like to drink his corn whiskey? Neat!
Photography provided by Jason Kao