Though a native of Jacksonville, North Carolina, I had the opportunity to live in Kentucky for several years. During that time, I reviewed records of numerous pre-prohibition distilleries. I also visited and toured distilleries as a hobby.
My interest piqued in the industry. Upon returning to my hometown in 1989, I immediately began talking to the appropriate state and federal agencies about licensure. Sidetracked numerous times by personal and financial obstacles, I revisited the projects in 2005. Walton’s Distillery, Inc. was formed and the foundation was laid for eventually opening a craft distillery. Over the following years I worked on recipes and developing a business plan for the company.
The site was located just beyond the bank of Black Creek, on a site where numerous illegal stills had previously operated. Construction of the building began in June, 2013 and as of today is fully operational.
My goal is to merge the techniques utilized by some of the more traditional distilleries I visited in Kentucky, together with the age-old practices of several generations of local artisans, and ramp things up a bit to enable production to manufacture a satisfying spirit and keep shelves stocked. We are a small batch distillery.
Our first product was “E.M. Walton’s Corn WhiskeyTM.” It is named after my great-grandfather. It is made with 100% corn and flash-aged with toasted Appalachian oak chips for at least 2 months to smooth the spirit and impart the caramel color and vanilla tones. Our first pallet was delivered to the Raleigh ABC warehouse in April, 2015.
After my whiskey production was fully underway I was approached by Norwood Rochelle, a cousin of mine, about the prospect of making moonshine. Norwood had made moonshine illegally for approximately 50 years in the woods of Onslow and surrounding counties. He had been affiliated with Percy Flowers and several other prominent moonshiners of the day and was very adept at his craft. In addition, Norwood was a skilled musician, and known across the State as an accomplished bluegrass musician. Cousin Norwood shared his knowledge of making moonshine with us. We crafted a moonshine still out of scrap stainless steel. Norwood constructed a condenser out of sheet copper and our production of moonshine began.
Over the next months Norwood shared his secrets and recipe of making moonshine. We continue to make moonshine in exactly the same manner as he had made it over the past 50 years. Our moonshine is called “Junior Walton’s Authentic Carolina MoonshineTM.” It is named after my grandfather. Norwood’s photograph is on the back label of each bottle of moonshine that we sell.
We have been featured on PBS Charlotte’s NC Weekend, where I tell a bit more about our story. Check it out!
My theme throughout will be family; Walton’s Distillery is family owned and operated. The products will all bear the names of my ancestors as a lasting tribute to them, the hardships they endured, the goals they obtained and the legacies they have left.
Thank you for visiting our website and hopefully enjoying some of our products. If you are in the area please pay our facility a visit. We offer free tours and samplings of our fine products.