Making it Pay in Georgia: In Good Spirits
Written by: Jane Garvey
When, in 2007, four friends—Alton Darby, Kent Cost, Dr. Gil Klemann and Winford Hines—from Americus, began to talk about distilling spirits, they had in mind a homemade vodka for family and friends. Little could they have suspected their casual conversation and initial friends-and-family vodka would have led to founding a distillery. Made in small batches, the handcrafted spirits of Thirteenth Colony take advantage of the distillery’s location atop one of the South’s oldest and deepest aquifers. Thus, the water is of a singular purity, perfect for making fine-quality distilled spirits. Locally grown corn, barley and rye are also used in the process, which is carried out in a custom-designed, 250-gallon still. Albany-based wildlife artist David Lanier’s artwork adorns the packaging.
The first product, launched in 2009, was Plantation Vodka, one of two vodkas produced. Aromatic and supremely silky in texture, it is the vodka of choice for savouring chilled and neat, in the Russian manner, perhaps with caviar, such as Walter’s Caviar from Darien, for a total Georgia products treat. The company’s Southern Vodka is more assertively flavoured, therefore perhaps better suited to mixing with tonic or soda water. Thirteenth Colony describes it as a “contemporary Southern taste,” and certainly Plantation Vodka is a more traditional style by comparison. Thirteenth Colony’s Southern Gin, aromatic with the slightly piney scent of juniper berries, is excellent with tonic water and lime on the rocks. And new out of the shoot is Southern Corn Whiskey, packaged in a short, decanter-style bottle, says Marketing Specialist Lindsey Cotton. Each bottle is hand-labeled, -signed and-numbered. “It’s a limited-release whiskey,” says Cotton, with just 400 cases produced.
Plantation Vodka, Southern Vodka and Southern Gin are distributed through Empire Distributors, which also will distribute the Southern Corn Whiskey. A bourbon now is in the barrel for future release.