Art of the Craft: Old Glory Distilling Co.

Art of the Craft

Going on three years now, Old Glory Distilling Co. is actively growing at a rapid rate of over 100% a year.

Old Glory Distilling Co. Founder Matt Cunningham explains, “Our two primary products are Tennessee whiskey and bourbon but those products take time to age and something that makes us a little bit unique in the craft world is we’re a completely grain to glass distillery and what that means is we make absolutely everything from scratch.”

It’s hard to miss the smell of fermentation in the distillery!

“Today we’re cooking a bourbon mash,” Cunningham explains. “So this morning before you guys got here, we added our corn first, so next we’re gonna add our rye which is sitting here.”

Old Glory Distilling Co. Founder Matt Cunningham points out the day’s mash

That mash will cook for six hours before being transferred to a fermentation tank. From there, Cunningham and his team add malted barley which has enzymes to break the starches down creating distillers beer.

“This is a fully fermented out distillers beer sample. A distillers beer does not look like a beer that you would drink because it’s technically a grain-based alcoholic beverage at this point.”

Distillers beer

That beer contains 8 percent alcohol, and once it gets pumped into a still and distilled, is one step closer to becoming a craft spirit.

“This is something that makes a craft distiller like us pretty unique. These pot stills are very old-school and pretty traditional. None of the major distilleries use them anymore,” Cunningham remarks. “Mostly because they’re pretty inefficient.”

Old Glory Distilling Co’s pot still

That pot is heated by steam and once it hits 180 degrees will start to boil. “Alcohol vapor is gonna rise up that column and go over to a condenser over here and that hot alcohol vapor is gonna hit the cold water in the condenser and condense back down into a liquid,” Cunningham explains. “When it condenses back down into a liquid, it comes into this little glass tube here and we have a hydrometer floating in there to tell us what proof it’s coming off the still.”

“For Tennessee whiskey, it comes off the still at 142 proof,” smiles Cunningham.

Old Glory Distilling Co.’s floating hydrometer

Finally, that distilled spirit gets poured into a charred-oak barrel and aged for years.

If you’d like to see the process for yourself, including the creation of their clear spirits like rum, vodka, moonshine, and gin, the Clarksville native encourages everyone to stop by.

Old Glory Distilling Co. is located just off I-24 in Clarksville

“This is my hometown, love Clarksville more than anything! And I wanted to bring something here when I moved back from college that people in the community would be excited about!”

To see more stops on our Art of the Craft: Tennessee Whiskey Trail, click here.

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